Jordan Smith
  • Review: 'How to Train Your Dragon 2' Is the Best Animated Film of the Year, with One Fatal Flaw
    By: Jordan Smith Jun 12, 2014
    20th Century Fox Film via Everett Collection For a long time, it was understood that Pixar was supper and DreamWorks was dessert. Pixar was the filling meal: animation that required serious digestion, with its meaty emotional beats and deep characters giving their work a texture that other animated films didn't have. It wasn't all eye-popping visuals and pop culture references thrown at the screen, but stories crafted with care. DreamWorks, on the other hand, was the after dinner treat: sweet, fun, but nothing to really chew on. But with How to Train your Dragon, things changed for the company. After all the Shreks, Madagascars, and other films, suddenly DreamWorks was finally serving up lobster. And boy was it good. The first Dragon was a revelation for the studio. The flying sequences made a serious case for that pesky 3D surcharge, but at the film’s beating heart was the tender relationship between a boy and his dragon, so resonant and fully realized. And now we have the sequel, living up to its predecessor almost entirely. For most of its running time, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a delicacy. It's just the final bites that aren't so smooth. It's been five long years since we last saw the cliffs of Berk, and things have changed for the better. humans and dragons are living in blissful cohabitation. Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is 20 years old, sporting some young adult scruff of the chin. His father Stoic (Gerald Butler) is grooming his heir as a successor to the throne, but Hiccup would rather pass his time in the clouds with Toothless, discovering parts of his world that were inaccessible before humans partnered up with dragons. His travels brush him up against Drago Bloodsport (with a name like that, he may be the bad guy) played by Djimon Hounsou (okay, definitely the bad guy), a man who wishes to build a dragon army... not to mention a mysterious dragon rider whose identity has been spoiled by the film's trailers but won't be here. 20th Century Fox Film via Everett Collection Berk and the surrounding domains of its pseudo-Nordic fantasy land are once again richly realized and provide a beautiful backdrop for the flying scenes, which are even more kinetic and grand than the original. The bond between Hiccup and Toothless is felt every second the duo zips through the air, giving the film's action scenes an extra oomph of feeling. Hiccup’s budding relationship with this his father, who struggles to understand his son's dalliances in the sky, gives the film an emotional pulp that hasn't been seen in any animated effort this year. It's almost perfect, but the film just doesn’t earn that gold star in the end. So much of the power threaded through the film is cut short by its conclusion, proving that there's still blockbuster DNA wiggling around inside its cells: Hiccup’s personal story gets lost in the mix as the film is relegated to an explosive and cliche final act with more dragons than heart. It almost feels like the film is straining to be something better and more nuanced, but can't fight its own animated genetics. Nature wins over nurture.    It's a pity, but a small one. Despite its disappointing finale, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is so charming it's ultimately irresistible. The core relationships brim with poignancy, and it's a swashbuckling adventure through and through. It doesn't quite stick the landing, but the flight getting there is just so damned pretty.  4/5  Follow @Hollywood_com Follow @CurrentlyJordan
  • Review: '22 Jump Street' Is More of the Same, for Better and Worse
    By: Jordan Smith Jun 11, 2014
    Sony Pictures via Everett Collection I find it difficult to remember a time that I was as gobsmacked by a comedy as I was by 21 Jump Street. It represented all of the things no one wanted in a film: a reboot of an '80s television show, another buddy cop send-up, and Channing Tatum doing comedy. So what a surprise it was when the film turned out to be such a pleasant surprise — a big studio comedy so blissfully self-aware and meta, but also downright funny. It took all the worries I had about reboots, television adaptations, and Tatums, and confronted them with such an subversive kick in the pants, becoming the standout comedy of 2012. A surprising marvel risen out of such bottom barrel expectations. But now the follow-up, 22 Jump Street, has a whole new set of worries to address, and the film wastes no time in bringing that same self-deprecating hilarity to the subject of sequels. And it suceeds… for the most part. In its own existential way, 22 Jump Street is really a sequel about sequels. It unhooks all the underpinnings of second films and mocks the big studio cynicism that floats over any big-budget follow-up to a successful property, reconfiguring the notion into a farcical blend of self-mockery. As Nick Offerman's police chief character lays out in thick slabs of meta exposition, the Jump Street reboot was a surprise success, so the department now has double the budget for the follow-up program that sees Detectives Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Tatum) infiltrating a college campus to “do the same thing” they did before... except it probably won’t be as successful and people won’t like it as much. Get it? How can you not? That thread of meta humor is woven through the entire film, and 22 Jump Street doesn't feel as much as a follow-up to the first Jump Street film but a full-on parody of it. And while calling something a parody of itself is usually a pejorative remark, here it's the clear intention. The film is several grades sillier than its predecessor, and is nothing short of a live-action cartoon. Really, it's just as effervescent and spastic as writer/directors Chris Lord and Phil Miller's last feature, The Lego Movie. 22 Jump Street isn't just on the nose, it is the nose. And if that sort of humor rankles you, there won't be much for you to enjoy in 22 Jump Street. But for those of us with a high tolerance for the ridiculous — for instance, an early suspect in the drug case literally has a tattoo of a red herring — then there's a lot to like in this sequel. Sony Pictures via Everett Collection There’s a lovely lack of logic coursing through the film, and its frequently and riotously funny. Tatum is transitioning into quite the physical comedian, and Hill’s vulnerable Schmidt adds some nice emotional beats to a film that's wildly unconcerned with anything approaching reality. Ice Cube’s Capt. Dickson also gets way more to do this time around, giving the film some of its biggest laughs. The whole thing is infused with such unbridled creative energy, thanks to Lord and Miller, but the film also gets lost in its own narrative aspirations. So many of the narrative beats are the same as those in 21, but inverted and packaged with a supplementary wink and nod at this mimicry. Oddly, the film feels simultaneously ambitious and rote all at the same time. Here’s a film trying its best to subvert the notion of sequels, but falls right into the trap it spends so much time lampooning. Much of the time watching the film is spent waiting for the other boot to drop, but it never really does. The set-up and the punchline of the film’s central gag is the same: we did it same thing again. Isn’t that funny? Well, yeah, sure, but only partially, because we already saw it last time.    It's hard to criticize 22 Jump Street for not quite reaching its narrative ambitions when it's so often side-splitingly funny despite them. Yeah, its meta humor doesn't work 100 percent of the time, but when it does, it's hilarious. The sequel is so remarkably odd and interesting with its approach to crafting a follow-up that we're excited to see what comes next from the series. I hear there's a Laotian mega-church being built right across the way at 23 Jump Street. 3.5/5 Follow @Hollywood_com Follow @CurrentlyJordan
  • Does 'Star Wars: Episode VII' Really Need a 'Luke Skywalker' Character?
    By: Jordan Smith Jun 10, 2014
    20th Century Fox Film via Everett Collection/WENN The main question that we imagine is swirling through the heads of J.J. Abrams and the other folks in charge of Star Wars: Episode VII is just how closely their new film should hew to the original Star Wars trilogy. The prequels, for all their good intentions, felt nothing like the Star Wars of old and suffered for it, so how should Episode VII  continue the franchise? A new rumor adds even more wrinkles to the issue facing Abrams and Co.: according to Latino Review, John Boyega's character in Star Wars: Episode VII won't be a Jedi or a Padwan, but "has echos of Luke's arc in A New Hope."   It makes sense that the filmmakers are trying to find parallels between the first trilogy and the new one. Star Wars has such a dense history, not only in its own universe, but in our universe as well. Nearly everyone living and breathing has some relationship with the property, so adding new canon must be done delicately. Part of the reason the prequels have become so reviled by most Star Wars fans is because George Lucas had forgotten what made the first trilogy so appealing in the first place, but the original films shouldn’t be held as gospel. Some of the things that worked in 1977 might not fly in this strange new world of 2015 - in particular, a character like Luke might not work in the present times.  All the way back in 1977, Star Wars wasn’t the cultural monolith it is now. As hard as it may be to believe, there was a time where a galaxy far, far away was completely new territory for fans. In that first movie, the character of Luke was our eyes and ears into Lucas’ strange new world, and as the young man traveled far away from the sand-strewn stretches of his home planet to different, eye-popping corners of the galaxy, the viewer was on that same adventure of discovery. We were being guided, hand in hand, through the rules of Star Wars, with Luke serving as our companion and guide, always within earshot of some handy exposition when things got confusing. Since Luke was just a vessel for the audience, he didn’t need to be an incredibly deep character, just one to bring us from point A to point B, from Tatooine to Yavin. But now, in 2015, we don't need a wide-eyed, slack jawed outsider to soak up information for the audience anymore.  We've  already experienced over 40 years of Star Wars. It's hard coded into our zeitgiest, and everyone living knows how that  world operates. We don’t need a character like Luke giving us a fresh-faced view of the Star Wars  universe; we’ve already lived there for 40 years. But there are other reasons a character like Luke wouldn’t work today beyond just standing in for the audience. Honestly, Luke was always a little too bratty and earnest. He constantly complained about how his dreams were being squandered living on Tatooine, and found just the right time to yell at his aunt and uncle before they were obliterated by the empire. Luke is the kind of character that doesn't really work in the modern age. Today is not an age of wide-eyed earnestness and idealism, but one filled with snarky comebacks and jaded leads. When Leia quips about Luke being too short to be a Storm Trooper, a Luke Skywalker from the Internet age would have quipped right back, not buried that insult with heroic posturing. We just don’t go for those sort of heroes in fiction anymore. Luke is very much a product of his time, and if Star Wars was made today, Han Solo would be the main character. Frankly, Han has always been the more interesting of the two anyway. With all that said, Boyega’s character following a similar character arc to Luke’s isn’t the worst thing in the world. Luke's path from dreamer to Jedi follows the hero’s journey to a T, and it's still a useful device in fiction. What the character needs, above all else, is to be different. This new Abrams-directed trilogy should use the old characters and canon as a launching pad to explore vistas the Star Wars universe has never seen, so let's be careful with comparing these new characters to Luke Skywalker. Follow @Hollywood_com // Follow @CurrentlyJordan //
  • Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill on the Bizarre Comedy in '22 Jump Street'
    By: Jordan Smith Jun 10, 2014
    Sony Pictures via Everett Collection What does it take to be funny? After delivering some hilarious drug-busting hi-jinks in the delightfully subversive 21 Jump Street, officers Jenko and Schmidt have graduated high school and are making the big move to college in the sequel. But is the joke still funny in 22 Jump Street? We sat down with Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill to talk about making room for improvisation in the finely tuned world of Chris Miller and Phil Lord, the development of some of the film's most memorable jokes, and Tatum's uncertainty in transforming from a pretty slab of beef to a genuinely gifted comedic actor. Warning: This interview mentions specific jokes contained in the film.  There might not be as much off the cuff material in the film as you'd think: Channing Tatum: "[Lord, Miller, and Hill] are great writers, so it’s not like we just walk in and start improving. There’s really, really, really witty and great writing. It’s not just jokes, there’s actually some really good character and relationship stuff between Jonah and I and some of the other characters. They write and then we do what’s on the page, and we do that a bunch of times until we feel that we’ve got it. And then it’s like, teacher blows the whistle and it’s recess time on set." And it was tough for Tatum to adapt to the comedy game: Tatum: "I was like, 'Man, I don’t know if I can do this comedy stuff.' The way you do it is different than other movies, sometimes. You’ll just take a run at a line and do it a bunch of different ways. Sometimes you’ll just take a minute and be like, 'All right, let’s see if we can make sure we have this line.' That’s not generally what you do in drama. That was weird and you don’t have this overwhelming feeling that it’s working, ever. I think people are laughing at times, but I’m not sure it’s going to all come together and just because it was a form that I didn’t understand all that well." "I had to learn how to let go on the first one, and just leave it up to the gods, or Chris and Phil. I had no ego going into it, and generally don’t on any movie, really, because the best idea in the room wins. You just gotta step up to the plate and swing as hard as you can and try to keep growing and try to keep on taking parts that challenge you in movies that aren’t some derivative version of another movie that you’ve done ... You do want to push yourself, and if you keep doing that, you will keep getting better and you will keep doing better work. When I asked [Hill], I was like, 'Look, man, I just don’t know how to be funny. I just don’t know how to do that. I don’t see myself as that.' and he’s just like, 'Look, I just want you to be a good actor, and come in and don’t try to be funny. Let me worry about knowing what’s going to be funny in the scene.' And I really did. I left it up to him. Chris and Phil were great. And we just started trudging down the field and tried to make a good movie." Tatum and Hill discuss some of their favorite gags from the film, including the made up land of "Puerto Mexico"... Jonah Hill: "Puerto Mexico [is] a perfect example of a Phil Lord and Chris Miller Joke. Where you just read that and are like “I have no idea what that means, but you guys, I totally trust you guys."Tatum: "It’s truly funny to them. They think it’s the funniest thing in the world and I can see someone else making that joke and it not working out in the movie somehow, and for some reason, they just make it work." ...and mixing up carte blanche with Cate Blanchett... Tatum: "I think that was [Jonah's] joke."Hill: "No, that might have been Rodney Rothman. He’s a great writer and a friend of ours. He’s one of the writers on the film. He’s been a friend of mine for years and years, and he’s been a friend of Phil and Chris’ for years and years. So when we were writing this one, we were like, let’s have Rodney write with us so we can soak up his genius. That joke is funny. I think that’s my favorite joke in the movie."Tatum: "We tried to actually get her, I think ... She was busy."Hill: "Yeah, for some reason, [laughs] she didn’t want to be in the movie ... Turns out we didn’t have carte blanche."     22 Jump Street hits theaters on Friday, June 13. Follow @Hollywood_com Follow @CurrentlyJordan
  • Proof That Peyton Reed Will Be Good for 'Ant-Man'
    By: Jordan Smith Jun 09, 2014
    Warner Bros. Pictures via Everett Collection It's hard not to feel worried for Marvel's Ant-Man, a project that was put in serious creative jeopardy when director Edgar Wright suddenly left the film to which he had been attached since 2006. In the fallout, Marvel was left with a gaping hole in the center of one of it’s most interesting projects, but after a couple weeks of scrambling, the studio has assembled a new creative team for the project. Director Peyton Reed has been chosen to helm Ant-Man in the wake of Wright with Adam McKay, who was formally in the pool of directors being considered by Marvel, helping to rewrite the script. While Reed's filmography isn't as impressive as Wright's at first glance, there is some hidden potential buried in the director's short body of work: his underappreciated comedies Yes Man and Bring It On, to be specific. Jim Carrey, physical comedian extraordinaire, is second only to Charlie Chaplin in his ability to contort and tax his body for amusement, and Reed get's the most out of the actor's mostly rubber body in 2008's Yes Man. While the film mostly feels like a retread of Carrey's earlier modern fairy tale Liar Liar, there are some engaging moments, including this scene where Carrey careens down the streets of Los Angeles on a Ducati while just barely clad in a billowy hospital gown. The scene offers some impressive stunt work as Carrey zips through traffic, but it's the little things that really pop and make the scene noteworthy. The awkward flailing of limbs as Carrey's character just barely holds onto the beast of the machine displays Reed's ability to meld action and comedy. Seeing as how a great chase sequence has become a requisite part of any Marvel film (think back to Nick Fury's fantastic car chase at the start of Captain America: The Winter Soldier), having a director that can infuse comedy into adrenaline pumping action is a huge asset. You may have missed it, but buried about a minute into the credits of Yes Man was a mid-credit scene featuring Jim Carrey and Zooey Deschanel strapping on suits made out of roller blades and careening down a twisty mountain road. Again, Reed shows his knack for blending action and comedy, something that an Ant-Man script written by Adam Mckay and possibly still possessing some of Edgar Wright's comedic DNA would benefit from. Finally, we recall the cult hit Bring It On. Everybody remembers the sass and spirit fingers, but Reed's seminal cheerleading comedy also has some really dizzying cheerleader choreography, especially during the film's climax where the two rival high schools do battle with increasingly complicated cheer routines. With a film like Ant-Man, whose action scenes will likely hinge on complex and unique choreography, a director with knowledge of how to construct an involved and dense setpiece with multiple performers is a must, and Peyton has that experience with Bring It On. Follow @Hollywood_com // Follow @CurrentlyJordan
  • The Best Parts of the 'Orange Is the New Black' Season 2 Premiere
    By: Jordan Smith Jun 06, 2014
    Netflix/JoJo Whilden Ready, set, binge! The second season of Orange Is the New Black is now offically available for streaming on Netflix, which likely means a few of us are going to recede into our couches for the next several days. The more overeager of us are already plowing there way through the episodes as we speak... and who can blame us? OITNB is perfectly bingeable, and Netflix's best original program (but don't tell any rabid House of Cards fans that). The premiere episode of the second season is a great re-introduction to the world of Piper Chapman, and offers some satisfying answers to last season's burning questions. "Where are we going?"After leaving audiences dangling with a particularly perilous cliff-hanger, the show zooms a month into the future where a frightened Piper is wisked away from Litchfield in the dead of night with no knowledge of where she's going and why. Of course, her brain runs in circles, trying to find a reason for her sudden relocation, and the road to her eventual destination is full of hazards and roadblocks. The paranoia is palpable. It's a great way to open the season, leaving the audience just as confused as she is. Piper's "Dark Place"Taylor Schilling delves deep into Chapman, who has spent months in SHU wondering if she's a killer and in the fear and confusion of her sudden departure, lets it all go next to strangers in the middle of a flight heading who knows where.  Little PiperNo show in the post-Lost era has used the flashback device as well as Orange Is the New Black. Here, we get a snapshot of a nebbish, little rule following Piper bumping up against one of life's first hard lessons. Is telling the truth ever a bad thing? Past and Present Piper struggle to answer that question, and unfortunately, things don't work out well in either scenario. Yoda the Jedi MasterCarrier cockroaches!? OITNB frequently has us pondering whether some of its more ridiculous moments are actually real, and this is certainly one of them. Do prisoners really trade goods and services through the use of cockroaches? It sounds too out there to be true, but we'd like to believe that there's a whole delivery system based on insects thanks to genuine human ingenuity. Pennsatucky's fateWe now know that Pennsatucky is alive and well, and while that might be good for Piper's soul, it's bad for everyone else. It may sound cruel, but our darker sides were kind of hoping the little meth runt finally found her way to the laundrymat in the sky. Alex's BetrayalThe premiere episode end with a gut punch. After Piper learns that herself and Alex were brought to the Chicago facility to testify against Alex's former drug Kingpin Kubra Ballick, Alex convinces Piper to lie on the stand, fearing retalliaton from her former boss. After the hearing, Piper learns that Alex actually did testify against Kubra and is set free because of it. Burned by the Vause once again. Follow @Hollywood_com // Follow @CurrentlyJordan //
  • Jenny Slate's Weird Web Series 'Catherine' Is Worth a Watch
    By: Jordan Smith Jun 06, 2014
    YouTube/buh A word of warning: Jenny Slate is about to blow up in a big way. The young comedian has been cultivating her career right in the periphery of mainstream attention, but that all might change with her star-making role in the Sundance gem Obvious Child, a dark indie comedy that blindsided festival goers and might give Slate her ticket to becoming a more recognizable figure in Hollywood. Really, you should hitch your ride to her wagon now, so that when everyone's fawning over comedy's biggest it-girl in a few years,  you'll be way ahead of the curve. Slate has been appearing in movies on television for a while now; she had a micro stint on SNL where she's most well-remembered for dropping the F-bomb on national television. But besides giving the FCC another headache, the comedian has appeared in recurring roles on Parks and Recreation, Bob's Burgers, Hello Ladies, and House of Lies. She was also the creative force and voice behind the viral-hit, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On. But one of her lesser known gems: the web series "Catherine." Written by Slate and collaborator and husband Dean Fleischer-Camp, the series stars Slate as the titular Catherine, and it's a tough one to describe... perhaps frightfully mundane. There's no other way to aptly describe the kooky web-series besides smashing two opposing adjectives together and hoping it all makes sense. The story, told in 12 parts, follows Catherine as she goes to work, talks to co-workers, orders bread and butter sandwiches, and... that's pretty much it. But it's oddly fascinating. It's an odd experiment in comedy and tone. The actors read their lines in a flat, peculiar monotone, but paired with subtle musical cues, everything begins to feel really creepy, like something is seriously wrong with these people. In an interview with Splitsider, Slate described the creation of the series: "I was super stoned at my house, and Dean [Fleischer-Camp] and I were talking about the idea of 'what is normal and what is neutral.' Not trying to be being boring and not trying to not be funny, but what is exactly straight down the middle? What is it when you're not trying to do anything? You're not trying to be boring; you're not necessarily trying to be funny. You're just existing somewhere in the middle. I started to act out this scene that you see in episode one of 'Catherine.' It made us laugh really hard, so we started to write down more." It's not for everyone... it might not really be for anyone. But check it out and see if it clicks with your sense of humor. Check out the first episode here, and find the rest of the series on YouTube. Follow @Hollywood_com // Follow @CurrentlyJordan //
  • Your 'Orange is the New Black' Crash Course and More Highlights
    By: Jordan Smith Jun 04, 2014
    Netflix Here are this week's highlights from VH1, Celebuzz, Flavorwire, and Get ready for your next Netflix bingeSeason 2 of Orange Is the New Black hits Netflix this Friday, and Flavorwire has you covered with the ultimate Season 1 refresher course. "A Lannister always combs his mullet"Who knew Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage rocked such a sick mullet back in the day? Celebuzz shows off the star's  high school yearbook photo and his deep senior quote. Suns out... chest hair out?A number of male celebs need a style intervention, and VH1 shares a list of famous men who have an unhealthy obsession with plunging V-necks. All right, all right, enough already!From Jonah Hill to Pharrell, dishes on why celebrities need to stop apologizing for everything. Follow @Hollywood_com // Follow @CurrentlyJordan //
  • The Fannings vs. The Olsens: Which Are the Better Sisters?
    By: Jordan Smith Jun 03, 2014
      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 THE OLSENS 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. THE FANNINGS 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.  WINNER 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.  Follow @Hollywood_com Follow @CurrentlyJordan
  • We Got 2 New 'Hercules' Trailers Today, But They're Wildly Different
    By: Jordan Smith Jun 03, 2014
    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? Follow @Hollywood_com Follow @CurrentlyJordan