Is there a reason all coming of age movies are set during summer? The latest in the genre, Very Good Girls, stars Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen as two young women dealing with the usual teenage roadblocks: out of touch parents, dreamy crushes, creepy Peter Sargaard, and the everpresent issue of heading off to college as virgins. During their last summer together before the rest of their lives, the two make a pact to lose the V-card that's been burning a hole in their pockets, but both girls start making googly eyes at the same guy. Very Good Girls sounds like the inverse of the countless raunchy high school comedies where young men want to lose their virginity before going off to college like their loins are timed explosives. In any case, Very Good Girls looks like a poignant indie drama.
Both Olsen and Fanning come from two very different acting families, and both families have weathered career ups and downs over the years. We've decided to compare the two sets of sisters to see who comes out on top.
YouTube/JoBlo Movie Trailers, Tribeca Film
Members: Elizabeth, Mary Kate, and Ashley
Pros: Full House of course! During the back half of the '80s and even the early '90s, the Olsen twins were America's favorite toddler, and that nation/toddler relationship blossomed until about the time Michelle Tanner started speaking... and then we never ever wanted to see her ever again. You don't got it dude. But those few silent years of Full House were comforting and safe, just like any family sitcom should be.
Elizabeth on the other hand has improbably managed to step out of the shadow of her famous sisters and become a full-fledged actor. Critics sung her praises in films like Martha Marcy May Marlene, and the actress won numerous accolades for her acting ability. She also recently starred opposite a Aaron Taylor-Johnson in mega-blockbuster Godzilla. If that wasn't enough, Olsen is starring in next summer's Avengers: Age of Ultron, which will probably be the biggest movie ever... or at least until Avengers 3.
Cons: Full House giveth and Full House taketh away. We had to endure several years of twin themed nonsense from the elder Olsens, and there were enough TV movies and direct to video shenanigans to take up an entire section of Planet Video back in the day. Soon enough, the world grew tired of the Olsen twins and their songs about pizza, and their mystery solving, and whatever else they used to do. Despite their efforts, they softly faded out of public consciousness and into NYU. As for Elizabeth, there's nothing bad to say about her so far. Sure, she wasn't given much of anything to do in Godzilla, but that's not her fault, Godzilla was too busy crushing everything.
Members: Dakota and Elle
Pros: The Fannings were never a genuine media sensation like the Olsens were. Their stars never shone as bright. But that also means that their careers didn't have a chance to supernova. Both young actresses transitioned from child star to bona fide actor rather painlessly, and have built their careers on a mix of smaller films and bigger blockbusters to keep people from pigeonholing them. The Fanning longevity and the demise of the Olsen twins can likely be contributed to the fact that the Fannings were always actresses first, and cutesy tiny people second, and their roles reflected that. Now, instead of only one member of the Olsen family steadily working in film, the Fannings have two. Case in point: Elle Fanning just appeared in Maleficent opposite Angelina Jolie.
Cons: For a couple of years in the mid 2000s it did feel like Dakota Fanning was the only working child actress, and she came close to feeling overexposed. Luckily Chloe Moretz came just in the nick of time to give us a breather. Other than that, neither actress has been terribly ambitious with her role choices. Neither Fanning has a role as universally praised as Elizabeth Olsen's turn in Martha Marcy May Marlene, but even if they lack a genuine career high point, they make up for it in general consistency. The Fannings never disappeared of the face of the earth like the Olsens did for a few years.
We have to give it to the Fannings. Elizabeth Olsen certainly has more star power than either Fanning right now, but she's only one person. The Olsen twins have mostly left Hollywood behind, and one person does not an acting family make. Conversely, both Elle and Dakota Fanning have put in consistently solid work over the years, and it helps that their fame never rested on a twin gimmick.
YouTube/IGN, MGM/Paramount Pictures
For those looking for another glimpse of The Rock in Brett Ratner's upcoming Hercules, you're in all sorts of luck. There are two different versions of the first full-length trailer for Hercules floating around the Internet today. Both versions feature a burly version of Hercules played by the Dwayne Johnson, with traps bigger than mountains and abs cut like craggy Greek cliffs. But beyond the rock's demi-god physique and similar encounters with ancient beasts and hellish creatures, differences start to emerge between the two. While much of the narrative and action is the same, the tone of the two clips are pretty different, and seeing two versions of the same film has us wondering which one will be more indicative of the final product come July.
This first version of the trailer takes itself rather seriously. Here, a grieving Hercules seeks justice after the gods murder his family. This trailer is a tale of vengeance, and Hercules is given a darker agency. The music that swells beneath the action is ominous; even a mournful version of a Queens of the Stone Age song finds its way all the way back to Ancient Greece. Hercules' struggle has extra gravity, but there's a certain disconnect between the trailer's tone and the visuals. Slo-mo boar killing and a hero with a lion for a hat probably shouldn't be taken so seriously, and a good joke or two would make everything feel more balanced here.
Here, the second version of the trailer seems a lot more fun. This take doesn't feature Hercules' family being murdered, and all mentions of vengeance and justice are left at the wayside. What's left is a Hercules film that feels more bracing, perhaps even swashbuckling. We are also more thoroughly introduced to the supporting players, most notably, Ian McShane, a soothsayer who has foreseen his death, and embraces his coming demise with open arms, and much to Hercules' annoyance, embracing death means willfully standing in the path of flaming spears. This version seems a lot more self-aware at how ridiculous the story really is, and is willing to crack jokes at itself and the source material. The other trailer feels like it's missing the camp that this version is serving up. We're hoping the full-length film veers closer to the tone of this second trailer.
Which version of Hercules would you rather see?
Walt Disney Co. via Everett Collection
With piercing cheek bones, alabaster skin, and a thirst for vengeance, Angelina Jolie's revisionist fairy tale, Maleficent won the weekend box office with an assertive $70 Million, defying most expectations, and is well on the road to becoming one of the actress' most successful films to date. The film has given the actress the biggest opening of her career, which is actually a bit odd. Despite her nuclear star power, the actress' box office totals read a bit softer than expected. Besides her work in the Kung Fu Panda films, the actress' biggest live-action film, Mr. and Ms. Smith, didn't even scrape $200 million domestically, and things drop off significantly from there. Fame and box-office dividends don't always correlate positively, and many actor's most successful films aren't what you'd expect. Here's a list of actors and actresses with surprising highest grossing movies.
GALLERY: Actors With Surprising Top Grossing films
Columbia Pictures/Columbia Pictures/Warner Bros. Pictures via Everett Collection
With a rapidly approaching June 17, 2015 premiere date still in sight, the folks at Marvel are currently headhunting a new director for their upcoming Ant-Man film. After Edgar Wright suddenly left the project earlier last week, citing creative differences, the studio has been left scrambling for a helmer that fits cleanly into Wright's irreverent shoes. Since it's likely that Wright and partner Joe Cornish's script will still be used on the film - albeit with whatever changes pushed Wright away from the project - Marvel would need a director that could deliver a comedic version of the Ant-Man character. The studio is now considering directors Rawson Marshall Thurber, Adam McKay, and Ruben Fleischer to shoot the project. We've combed through each director's filmography to determine which potential filmmaker has the goods to direct the Ant-Man film.
RAWSON MARSHALL THURBER
Films: Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, We're The MillersPros: We're The Millers is a competent comedy that has a decent number of laughs, and Dodgeball has developed its own cult following over the years. Thurber's work has a mass appeal, which is necessary for a summer blockbuster like Ant-Man.Cons: Thurber's previous efforts have not proven that the director has a good handle on action scenes, which would be a huge aspect in any superhero movie. Ant-Man especially would require some interesting staging and set pieces to highlight the character's peculiar power set.Final Verdict: Thurber's brand of comedy is broad and likeable enough, but he doesn't have the same quirks that would have elevated a Wright-directed version of Ant-Man above the usual fare. We also have no idea if the director can do action, so Marvel should probably look for a director with a more developed genre film resume.
Films: Anchorman, The Other Guys, Talladega NightsPros: Films like Anchorman and Talladega Nights have become instantly quotable classics, and the director's heavily improvisational style might loosen up a super-hero genre that sometimes feels too stiff and formulaic for its own good.Cons: Since much of Wright's material for the film is in the final script, McKay's looser, more improvised directing style might conflict with Wright's writing, which is often very controlled and deliberate with the way jokes are set up and delivered. Also, like Thurber, Mckay lacks experience directing action scenes.Final Verdict: McKay seems particularly ill-suited to direct Ant-Man. Wright and McKay are on complete opposite ends of the comedy spectrum, and McKay's loose style of comedy doesn't really fit well within Marvel and Disney's tightly managed modus operandai.
Films: Zombieland, 30 Minutes or Less, Gangster SquadPros: Finally, a director that knows his way around an action scene. Zombieland is a great blend of action and comedy, and relies on some fun visual directing tricks that wouldn't feel out of place in say, Shaun of the Dead.Cons: While Zombieland was an assured debut, the director has found himself in a deep slump as of late. Both 30 Minutes or Less and Gangster Squad were lackluster efforts, and we wouldn't want to see Ant-Man to end up the same way.Final Verdict: Zombieland is just so good that despite his recent missteps, we have faith that Fleischer can deliver a great Ant-Man film.
While most directors prefer to keep the plot details of their summer blockbusters under lock and key, Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow has been surprisingly frank and forthcoming about his upcoming installment in the Jurassic Park franchise. After JoBlo caught wind of plot details surrounding the film, which had been up until now, cloaked in secrecy, Trevorrow decided to buck the usual trend of denying rumors and confirmed much of the leaked information in an interview with Slashfilm. In the interview, Trevorrow dished about many of the leaked plot details of the film, clarifying and correcting some of the more worrisome rumors, and expressing his desire to really surprise audiences with the film: "Last week was discouraging for everyone on our crew — not because we want to hide things from the fans, but because we’re working so hard to create something full of surprises." So how do we feel about the final announcements? We've broken down and assessed all the confirmed information from the interview.
CHRIS PRATT: DINOSAUR SCIENTIST
After launching into space in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy, Chris Pratt will spend Summer 2015 in Jurassic World as a scientist studying the behavior of raptors, but Trevorrow urges that these raptors won't be doing tricks. “He’s just trying to figure out the limits of the relationship between these highly intelligent creatures and human beings.” Pratt is quickly becoming quite the diverse performer, and he has the right amount of goofball charm to work as an over-eager researcher — the kind that had dinosaur posters splattered all over his childhood bedroom. We're on board with this one.
Rating: Four shirtless Jeff Goldblums
THE PARK IS BASICALLY SEAWORLD WITH DINOSAURS
If your first you don't succeed (and your dinosaurs eat a whole bunch of people), try, try again. Jurassic World will feature a fully-realized and functional theme park on Isla Nublar with all the creature comforts: luxury resorts, restaurants, raptors, a golf course, night life, more raptors, basically everything John Hammond ever wanted for his original park. And like every SeaWorld vacation, eventually things go south. Damn humanity and our hubris! The idea of yet another iteration of Jurassic Park collapsing into chaos does seem a little trite, there are some fun twists here to shake up the formula.
Rating: Three stubby T-Rex arms
...AND, LIKE SEAWORLD, PEOPLE ARE OVER IT
The kids in Jurassic World just aren't impressed by the towering prehistoric creatures, already way spoiled by a steady diet of SFX dinosaurs over the years. So what's the only way to impress their young, CGI-addled brains? well, bigger dinosaurs of course. This could definitely be a fun bit of meta commentary for a franchise that first delighted fans with pre-historic action, but lost steam once it started valuing spectacle over character. Definitely great news.
Rating: Five "clever girrrl"s
BIGGER, BADDER DINOS, BUT NO MUTANT FREAKS
The original rumors reported that the new film will include a new genetically modified dinosaur spliced with DNA from other animals, like snakes and cuttlefish. It turns out that the rumor was only partly true. Trevorrow says that in order to shake things up and jog some interest back into disinterested park patrons, the geneticists at Jurassic World get a corporate mandate to create a bigger, louder, and more ferocious dinosaur. While this dinosaur will likely dwarf the creatures of old, the director doesn't want you to think of them as "mutant freaks." Trevorrow assures us, "It doesn’t have a snake’s head or octopus tentacles. It’s a dinosaur, created in the same way the others were, but now the genetics have gone to the next level. For me, it’s a natural evolution of the technology introduced in the first film." Despite Trevorrow's assurances, a genetically modified dinosaur does sound like the film is drifting away from the spirit that made the original film great. We'll have to wait and see about this one.
Rating: Two doorknob-turning raptors
NO FRIENDLY DINOSAURS
An earlier rumor suggested that there would be a ton of dinosaur vs. dinosaur action, and that some of the dinosaurs would be fighting to protect humans thanks to some training via Pratt's character. However (and thankfully), Trevorrow amends that rumor. "There’s no such thing as good or bad dinosaurs. There are predators and prey. The T-Rex in Jurassic Park took human lives, and saved them. No one interpreted her as good or bad. This film is about our relationship with animals, how we react to the threat they pose to our dominance on earth as a species." We definitely think creating "hero" and "villain" dinosaurs would have been a terrible move. Cheers to morally ambiguous lizards.
Rating: Five stolen dino embryos
Focus Features via Everett Collection
Notoriously creepy Ukrainian film "journalist" Vitalii Sediuk took a swing at Brad Pitt the red carpet premiere of Maleficent last night. If that name sounds familiar, it should: Sediuk has been playing a unsettling game of one-upsmanship with himself over the years, creating increasingly odd and unnerving run-ins with celebrities. Two years ago, the man attempted to kiss Will Smith at the Russian premiere of Men in Black 3, to which Smith reacted with a slap. Then, this month, Sediuk thought it was a good idea to actually crawl inside America Ferrera's dress at the Cannes Film Festival like he was subletting the place. Now this guy, who mysteriously evaded criminal charges after outright sexual assault, straight up punches none other than Brad Pitt in the face. Luckily, Pitt knows how to take a hit. From trading jabs with Edward Norton in Fight Club, to getting slogged by John Malkovich in Burn After Reading, there's a rich history of Brad Pitt getting clobbered on film. Here's a collection of Brad Pitt getting punched in the face... but these are movies, so it's okay:
Really, Norton? Who hits someone in the ear?
I guess everyone got tired of trying to figure out what the hell he was saying.
Mr. & Mrs. Smith
Just another date night in the Brangelina household.
Burn After Reading
Truth be told, Pitt's foul-mouthed character is so stupid in this movie, the whole audience was ready to punch him.
Pitt's character should have been punched a second time for thinking "El Trucko" was the correct translation for truck.
Pitt takes a break from galavanting with Robert Redford for some torture via fist.
Finally, Pitt gets "punched" by a spear in Troy. That definitely counts, right?
Warner Bros. Pictures via Everett Collection/Entertainment One via Everett Collection
Things are probably going to get a tad confusing on the set of Idol's Eye. Robert De Niro has joined the cast of Olivier Assayas' new film, starring opposite his fellow Robert, Twilight's own Robert Pattinson, via The Playlist. While much is still unknown about Assayas' follow-up to Clouds of Sils Maria, the film has been described as a sophisticated action-thriller.
The two Roberts make a curious pair of leads for a film, and while they share a first name, they couldn't be further apart on the Hollywood spectrum. One is an industry veteran that many would argue is the greatest living actor today, and the other made two Meet the Parents sequels. It's definitely an interesting match up.
Because arbitrarily comparing two things is the life blood of the Internet, there's only one thing left to do: it's time for a face-off. After all, there can only be one Robert. (Think about it. Do you know two Roberts? No, of course not!) We've decided to match up these two acting heavyweights in several categories from best reviewed film to best shirtless scene in a movie, in order to see which actor reigns supreme. The gauntlet has been thrown. Who is the best Robert in Hollywood?
HIGHEST GROSSING FILM
De NiroMeet the Fockers: $279,261,160
PattinsonHarry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: $896,911,078
WinnerPattinson. The numbers don't lie.
De NiroEvery second of Little Fockers
PattinsonSalvador Dali's mustache in Little Ashes
WinnerPattonson, whose career low is slightly less low. RPatz made a mockery of Dali in Little Ashes, but at least hardly anyone even remembers that one. A ton of people paid actual money to see Little Fockers. They were all very disappointed.
BEST REVIEWED FILM
De Niro The Godfather, Part II
PattinsonHarry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
WinnerDe Niro. The Godfather, Part II has an impeccable 99 percent on the Tomatometer while Robert Pattinson's best reviewed film, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, only manages an 88 percent.
WORST REVIEWED FILM
WinnerPattinson. While Pattinson's Little Ashes sits at 24 percent on the Tomatometer, De Niro's horror-thriller Godsend has a dismal 4 percent of fresh reviews.
De NiroThe Creature from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
PattinsonEdward Cullen from Twilight
WinnerPattinson. Neither role would be considered a classic by any stretch, but Edward the sparkly vampire is definitely the more memorable of the two... for better or worse.
De NiroMax Caddy's grizzled, tatted up torso in Cape Fear
PattinsonEdward's shimmery vampire abs in Twilight
WinnterDe Niro. A shirtless Max Caddy manages to be way scarier than a bedazzled vampire, so this points go to Bobby D.
De NiroRaging Bull
WinnerDe Niro. Pattinson is surprisingly good in Cosmopolis, but Raging Bull is nothing short of an acting tour de force for De Niro.
But alas, Pattinson takes inherets the Robertian throne from the great Bobby D. But don't let that settle it for you; sound off with your thoughts below! Here's hoping Idol's Eye shows us something majestic from both of its stars.
With his latest, This Is Where I Leave You, director Shawn Levy has sure assembled a doozy of a cast. Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Jason Bateman, Corey Stoll, Rose Byrne, Adam Driver, Ben Schwartz, and Kathryn Hahn are present among this comedy powerhouse ensemble. Just hearing those names in conjunction should make most woozy with anticipation, but why does watching the trailer feel like such a cruel bait and switch? Where's that blissful dysfunctional family comedy that we had fabricated in our heads? There are so many questions rattling in our minds after watching the trailer: Why does this two minute preview feel like such a slog? How did they make Tina Fey seem so boring? Why does it feel like I'm watching a trailer for the third retelling of Death at a Funeral? Weren't two Death at a Funerals enough?
Apparently, they were not. This meeting of comedy giants should have been cosmic, the beginnings of a new comedy classic, but this first trailer for This Is Where I Leave You looks like a completely bloodless and generic week of family bonding that we've all sat through before. Big personalities like Fey and Driver seem stuck in the same generic sibling archetypes that have been rehashed in every family dramedy since the fall of Rome.
YouTube/Warner Bros. Pictures
The story follows the predictably fierce matriarch of the Altman family, who calls her children home after the death of their father, and after an predictably awkward reunion, predictably forces her adult children to hang about the old family home and predictably learn about life/love/themselves/each other/their parents/their town/whatever else, and confront their demons while having heartfelt confessionals under classroom fire sprinklers. Uggh. We bet at least one person comes out before the third act rolls around.
Now, it's pure lunacy to judge an entire film based off of one two-minute trailer, but just from this preview, the film might not be the comedy revelation we were all hoping for, and it doesn't help that Levy doesn't have the best directoral track record. It's just a shame to see such a great ensemble potentially go to waste, and it's especially a shame that most of the jokes in the trailer boil down to "Uh oh, Mom's being wildly inappropriate with her new boobs." Levy may have crafted a better movie than the trailer lets on, but things aren't looking so great from this short preview.
After Ryan Murphy's The Normal Heart gobsmacked critics and audiences alike with its unflinching look at the affect of AIDS on the gay community, HBO has picked up yet another period piece detailing the struggles of gays in New York.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, HBO has picked up the script for Open City, a period piece that profiles New York in the late 60's. The drama, from writer David Kajganich and director Adam Shankman, will reportedly follow a diverse set of characters from all corners of Manhattan, as they navigate a city going through a cultural metamorphosis. The project will also examine the gay community's unlikely partnership with New York's mafia with the opening of a West Village night club.
Ever since the critical success of AMC's Mad Men, the television landscape has been littered with period dramas claiming to "explore" a place and time in the past, but all those imitators stumbled when they found that they had nothing of substance to really say about their given era. While Mad Men was having a deep discussion about the cultural mores of the sixties, all of those other pretenders (The Playboy Club, Magic City, Pan AM... the list goes on) were just playing dress up. Open City, on the other hand, looks to have some very important things to say about the time period and the city it depicts, and this project may fill a very big hole once Mad Men wraps up its seventh season.
With the success of projects like Looking and The Normal Heart, HBO is quietly becoming the destination for gay-themed television. There was a time where TV would sideline gay characters, only featuring them as broad stereotypes, but HBO has begun crafting interesting, and unpatronizing glimpses at the characters and stories that have been sorely missing from our television sets.
Rogue Pictures via Everett Collection
While most of America spent Memorial Day weekend embracing the coming summer, Marvel had a falling out with one of its directors, and sending what was once their most promising project into creative jeopardy. On Friday, Edgar Wright stepped down as director of Marvel's Ant-Man, citing creative differences with Marvel on his vision for the project. Suddenly, the Ant-Man project looks a lot less interesting.
Our excitement about the upcoming Ant-Man film wasn't so much focused on the hero finally making the leap to the big screen, but for the creative force bringing him there. Wright is a genre film wonder who has spent his career crafting excellent spoofs on everything from horror to cop movies to alien invasions. It was exciting to think what the writer/director could have done with the superhero film. Edgar Wright seemed ordained to direct Ant-Man. It was the perfect meeting of concept and creator. Who else could handle a character as outwardly ridiculous as Ant-Man: a scientist who fights crime by shrinking to the size of a pea or growing to the size of a skyscraper? Ant-Man had been a labor of love for Wright, whose connection to the superhero film had been going on eight years. This clearly wasn't a simple direct-for-pay gig for Wright. It was something that would likely retain the same careful attention to detail and heart that flowed through every one of his previous works. In tribute to a director that has given us so many great moments over the years, we've rounded up the moments that exemplify Edgar Wright's talents for different aspects of filmmaking.
Each film in Wright's Cornetto trilogy is a love letter to a different subset of genre filmmaking. The zombie flick, the buddy cop movie, and the alien invasion film all get the piss taken out of them through subsequent films. Wright had a special way of handling genre spoofs, not only unraveling the conventions and cliches of a given genre, but also embracing them too. In this scene from Hot Fuzz, Wright takes the foot chase, a standard cop film trope, and turns it into comedic gold. It takes all of the cliches of the ubiquitous foot chase (sudden obstacles, every police officer's sudden and expert knowledge of parkour) and turns them all on their heads. It's like he's saying, "Hey, action movies are really stupid, but they're also a ton of fun."
Shaun of the Dead, the first taste of Wright's Cornetto trilogy, is perhaps his funniest film to date. Wright's deft handling of comedy is most perfectly illustrated in the "Don't Stop Me Now" scene towards the end of the film. The sequence is a hilarious frenzy of zombie action. Lines like "Kill the Queen" and the music synching to the beating of pool cues against zombie flesh are absurdly funny.
With Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Wright took Brian Lee O'Malley's series of graphic novels, work drawn and written deeply in the language of manga and video games, and transposed it into the world of film. It's an adaptation that shouldn't have worked, but does so beautifully. The hyper-stylized version of Canada feels coherent, despite all the madness, and the action scenes are fast, fluid, and nicely choreographed, with pixelated point counters blazing the screen and enemy foes collapsing into loose change after being vanquished. Just like that, a comic that should have been un-filmable is brought to life like it was drafted for the big screen in the first place.
One of the reasons that Edgar Wright's films are so enjoyable is because the worlds he creates often barely conform to any rules, often bending reality to suit a gag. Absurdity is a well-used device in Wright's toolbox, and his willingness to let things get weird has given us so many terrific scenes like this one from his television show Spaced. Here, a back-alley confrontation inexplicably turns into a bloody finger-gun shootout with enough pretend viscera to rival Saving Private Ryan's D-Day scene.
SPOILER WARNING: The following clip gives away the ending of The World's End.
Perhaps his most mature film to date, dealing with themes like depression, PTSD, addiction, and the terrifying thought of growing older, The World's End exemplifies better than any of Wright's other films just how in touch with his characters' emotionalities he really is. With the fertile grounds of superhero allegories in his hands, Wright might well have worked cathartic wonder.