Warner Bros. Pictures via Everett Collection
Since Edgar Wright stepped down as director of the upcoming Ant-Man movie, speculation about who Marvel would pick to replace him has been steadily growing. Currently, the two frontrunners are We’re The Millers director Rawson Thurber and Ruben Fleischer, the latter of whom is best known for his work on Zombieland and Gangster Squad. However, according to The Wrap, Ant-Man isn’t the only blockbuster franchise hoping to convince Fleischer to step behind the camera, as he is reportedly being considered to take the helm of Ghostbusters 3.
Like Ant-Man, Ghostbusters 3 has been in the works for a long time, and has weathered everything from the death of Harold Ramis to the difficulties of finding a replacement for Ivan Reitman to Bill Murray’s refusal to reunite with his former co-stars. Having Fleischer on board would be a major step in the right direction for the project, mostly because it would allow them to actually make that tentative 2015 start date. If the rumors are true, it puts Fleischer in the difficult position of having to decide between two major blockbuster films. To make things a little easier on him, we've broken each film down to see whether the rewards outweigh the risks and whether ants or ghosts are better suited to his sensibilities.
Ant-Man Tentative Start Date: Mid 2014 with July 17, 2015 as the planned release date. That doesn’t give Fleischer a lot of time to prep for the film, or to squeeze in or finish up any other projects beforehand. How Well He Fits the Project: His previous films have shown that he’s talented at handling both comedy and action in a way that would be useful for handling Harold Pym's adventures and super powers. Ant-Man isn't a particularly serious character, and so having someone on board who knows how to inject some humor into the proceedings while still keeping the fight sequences intense and impressive would be a major asset for the film. Creative Control: Marvel has all of their properties under strict control, as everything needs to work well in the overarching Cinematic Universe, both in terms of plot and tone. Though he’ll be able to add his own flare to the character, everything still needs to be approved by Marvel first, which limits just how inventive he’ll be able to get. Pressure From Fans: High. Comic book fans tend to be very particular about the way their favorite characters are adapted, and they won’t hesitate to make their displeasure known if Fleischer messes something up. After all, people are still making fun of Ben Affleck for Daredevil, and Tobey Maguire’s career hasn’t been able to rebound from Spider Man 3. Wright also had a lot of good will amongst that community as well, so they might be a bit more hesitant to accept Fleisher’s version of the film. Risks: Making an Ant-Man film in the first place is something of a risk, considering he’s a lesser known superhero with a weird set of powers, but both fans and critics have come to expect a certain level of quality from marvel’s films, and won’t be willing to cut Fleischer very much slack if the film isn’t good. Plus, Ant-Man is meant to kick off the next round of the Universe and will most likely impact every film that comes out afterwards, including future Avengers projects, and that’s a lot of pressure to put on someone directing their first superhero film. Rewards: Marvel’s films almost always do well, and so even this far in advance, it seems likely that Ant-Man will be at least a modest hit. Fleischer is coming off of two critical and financial flops – 30 Minutes or Less and Gangster Squad – so directing a major, successful blockbuster could go a long way in helping him out of his slump. It also puts him in the running for a lot of other, varied projects, which would help him break away from the comedy-with-a-touch-of-action comfort zone he’s been stuck in. A successful Marvel film would have a major impact on his career, and could even help him establish his name in Hollywood.
Ghostbusters 3 Tentative Start Date: Early 2015, and since The Playlist reports that Fleischer is a new father, the time off could play a significant role in convincing him to take the job. How Well He Fits the Project: Though he’s got plenty of experience with action, Fleischer’s forte is clearly comedy, which makes him a solid fit for Ghostbusters 3. The film needs someone who understands the goofy, irreverent tone of the original, without turning it into a parody of itself, and Zombieland proved that he can do just that. Plus, he’s already got a relationship with Bill Murray, so even if he can’t convince him to step back into the jumpsuit, at least he understands the style of comedy that a Ghostbusters film needs. Creative Control: Though Reitman and Dan Aykroyd will be heavily involved in the film, Fleischer will have a lot more creative freedom with Ghostbusters 3 than he would on a Marvel property. Fleischer would need to come with an inventive way to revisit the characters in order to keep the film from feeling stale, and comedy naturally allows for more creativity than a rigidly structured superhero universe does, so it could truly be Fleischer’s version of a Ghostbusters film. Pressure From Fans: Low. Very few people actually have faith in Ghostbusters 3, and since people are already expecting it to be a trainwreck, Fleischer doesn’t really have any pressure on his shoulders. Whatever he does has got to be better than what people are expecting him to turn out. Risks: There aren’t a ton of risks with this one: Fleischer has already proven that he can handle a supernatural comedy well, and expectations are already pretty low. However, Fleischer really needs a his next film to be a success – either critically or commercially – in order to help him out of the rut he’s currently in, and Ghostbusters 3 has a lot going against it. If the film bombs terribly, it would be very hard for his career to recover. Rewards: Because the risks are lower, so are the rewards. However, if Ghostbusters 3 is a hit, it not only helps Fleischer recover from his recent flops, but it also helps open up opportunities for other big comedy films. He might still have trouble breaking out of his comedy niche, but at least he would be in the running for plenty more major comedy blockbusters.
Just when it looks like things might start to look up for Tyrion, Gregor Clegane crushes someone's skull with his bare hands.
Oberyn Martell is dead, lying on the ground with blood pouring out of his skull and his eyes completely gouged out, leaving Jaime and Ellaria Sand in shock and Tyrion's life hanging in the balance. It's a depressingly fitting ending to a fight in which Oberyn's flipping and twirling seemed to have the leg up on Gregor's brute strength, but just when his victory and Tyrion's justice seemed to be in reach, everything came crashing down in one swift, violent motion. After all, this is Westeros, and power is what guarantees you a victory, no matter how much passion and skill you have on your side.
The outcome of the trial by combat is tragic for several reasons: in addition to losing one of the season's most entertaining characters and sentencing Tyrion to death, it also means that Oberyn has failed at avenging the death of his sister, the reason he came to King's Landing in the first place. Like Inigo Montoya on steroids, he twirled his spear around his head, taunting the Mountain into admitting his guilt and revealing that Tywin Lannister gave the orders to have Elia killed. His unfailing loyalty to his sister was Oberyn's defining and most interesting characteristic — it made him a wild card in King's Landing — but it was also his undoing. He became so caught up in justice for Elia, in forcing Gregor to confess to what he did and forcing Tywin to own up to her death that he lets his guard down for one terrible second.
Game of Thrones is a show about power and loyalty, and the consequences that come with them. For all that the show preaches the importance of honoring your promises and remaining loyal to the people you have sworn fealty to, it's been just as quick to point out the dangers of blind loyalty and trusting people without question. As the fight goes on and Oberyn's chanting becomes more and more impassioned, it seems as if he will take down the Mountain and Elia will finally be avenged, but it is precisely that all-consuming passion that distracted him long enough to allow Gregor to get back up. To have Oberyn defeated by a character who has no loyalty whatsoever, who is willing to fight for anyone who can pay him is an extra harsh blow, as the series' most devoted character destroyed by brute strength that has been sold to the highest bidder.
As if that weren't enough, the fight also effectively sends Tyrion to the gallows for a murder he didn't commit. A character who has only ever been loyal to himself, Tyrion has now been brought to his knees by putting his faith in other people. First, his love of Shae and attempts to protect her got him a trial by combat in the first place, and then, Oberyn's desire for revenge — the very thing that made him such an appealing champion in the first place, as he both understood Tyrion and wouldn't give up against the Mountain — sentences him to death.
But King's Landing isn't the only place getting a crash course in fidelty. Over in the Vale, Sansa decides to ally herself with Petyr Baelish, testifying on his behalf in front of the council and showcasing everything she's learned she first set off for the Capitol all those years ago. Petyr maintains that Lysa Arryn's death was a suicide, playing up her mental instability and using her erratic behavior to his advantage. However, he still needs Sansa to carry out the plan effectively, and she does exactly what he needs, but in such a way that it will protect her in the long run.
After admitting to the council that she's not Alayne Stone, but Sansa Stark, and thus winning favor from those who were loyal to her father and Winterfell, she peppers her lies with just enough truth so as to make them believable, a strategy that she previously used on Lysa herself. As Sansa's tearful testimony is intercut with shots of Petyr watching his ward put his advice into action, the drastic change that has just taken place is just as obvious her as it is when she swans down the stairs later in the episode. More than anyone else, Sansa's story exemplifies the message of Game of Thrones, and she's learned to play the game as well as people who have spent years manipulating and scheming their way through Westeros. If she needs to protect herself by siding with one of the least trustworthy people in the Seven Kingdoms, she'll do it, and if she needs to cry and manipulate the Small council in order to avoid the possibility of being in a dangerous situation, she'll do that too.
Meanwhile, Reek continues to prove his unfailing loyalty to Ramsay Snow, who has officially been recognized as a member of the Bolton family, and can rule the North under his father's name. His return to Moat Cailin pits him between his family and House Greyjoy, to whom he was previously faithful, and his new master. It's a difficult moment for Reek, who must pretend to be Theon but not let any of his old self creep back in, and his new identity is spotted almost immediately by his old soldiers. Alfie Allen is one of the show's unsung heroes, and his performance here is fantastic, with his confidence instantly dissolving, and the steady Theon Greyjoy gives way to shivering, snivelling Reek. And while it works out for him this time, thanks to a well-timed axe to the head, the constant push and pull between Theon and Reek seems poised to give way sometime soon, and we can't imagine it will work out well for him.
Over in Mereen, Daenerys and Ser Barristan discover that Jorah has not always been the loyal companion that he is, as a royal pardon arrives, signed by Robert Baratheon in exchange for Jorah's services. It doesn't matter to Dany how many times Jorah has protected her or the fact that he stopped spying after the crown sent assassins to kill her. He sold her secrets, and revealed that she was carrying Khal Drogo's child, and that is an offense that is unforgivable to her. The show's been holding onto his past treachery for some time now, waiting for the precise moment to let the other shoe drop, and it comes just after Jorah begins to suspect that Darrio might be replacing him in Dany's affections. If he thought he would be able to win her back before, that hope is gone now, and he rides off into the sunset alone, putting another character with shifting loyalties into play.
"The Mountain and the Viper" also manages to insert a few smaller moments about devotion and its consequences, with Sam's desire to protect Gilly coming back to bit him after the Night's Watch learns about the Wildling Raid on Mole's Town, and Sandor Clegane declaring Arya to be his "travelling companion" rather than his captive. Of course, that moment of friendship is punctuated by the news of Lysa's death, and Arya sums up all of the insanity, death and sadism of Westeros with peals of hysterical laughter.
Like every big episode this season, "The Mountain and the Viper" spends much of the episode catching us up on several different storylines before shifting all of its attention to one big moment. In this case, it works, as the Vale and King's Landing deservedly get the bulk of screentime, and the smaller changes and betrayals of the episode culminate in the big fight. Since next week's episode seems to be focusing primarily on the Wildlings' raid on the Wall, the episode leaves things in an interesting position, with the writers rushing forward some plots, leaving them with no more material from the books to draw on, and drawing out several others in order to build suspense. It's a risky choice, as it makes things a little more complicated for the writers next season, but we'll have to wait another two weeks to see if it's one that pays off.
In the meantime, though, we'll have to settle for the knowledge that even people in Westeros can quote The Princess Bride. Hopefully Hodor gets to do his Andre the Giant impression sometime soon.
Episode Grade: B,or Two Cousin Orsons Crushing Beetles in the Garden
Walt Disney Co. via Everett Collection
Captain Hook might be funnier and Cruella De Vil might be better dressed, but no Disney villain is more terrifyingly iconic than Maleficent. Since she stormed into a party she wasn’t invited to in a wave of green fire, she’s been the inspiration for television shows, cosmetic lines and of course, countless children’s nightmares. Now, like the evil diva she is, Maleficent is finally getting a feature film of her own, starring the equally stunning and powerful Angelina Jolie. The film, which is currently in theaters, will look back at the origins and inner life of the mistress of evil and make her the hero of her own story.
And while we’re excited to learn more about what turned Maleficent from a normal, happy fairy into one of the scariest cartoon characters of all time, we’re much more interested in her as a villain than as a heroine. In the process of adding some backstory to the character, Disney took away several of the key characteristics that made Maleficent so amazing and intimidating, and frankly, the dark side just seems to suit her better. Don't believe us? Let's take a look at old-school Maleficent:
She’s Unapologetic Because Maleficent is a Disney film, it needs a happy ending, and so Maleficent learns to love Aurora and believe, once again, in the idea of goodness. That’s all dandy, but the original Maleficent never would have apologized for or given up her evil deeds. Instead of letting things go, she decided to stand up for herself and wouldn’t compromise on her beliefs, and that’s just as valuable a life lesson as forgiveness, and it makes for a much less cheesy ending.
She’s Confident Like all coming of age stories, Maleficent follows the main character as she grows into her abilities and learns to have faith in herself, and while it might make for an interesting story, it’s not nearly as entertaining as the original Maleficent, who enters full of confidence and power. By the time we meet her, she’s already realized her potential, and she’ll take every opportunity she gets to remind the people around her just how awesome she is. We should all be as proud of ourselves as Maleficent is.
She’s an Advocate of Good Manners Look, nobody wants the evil witch who lives in the creepy tower bringing down the festivities at their daughter’s christening, but if you’re going to invite the whole kingdom, it’s only polite to send an invitation her way as a courtesy. If you ask us, that’s a much more important lesson for children to learn than the “be careful who you trust” or “don’t betray your friends in order to become king" that Maleficent preaches.
Her Outfits Are Fabulous Sure, fairies and princesses get pretty ball gowns, but Maleficent has a crown made of horns that’s taller and more intimidating than any tiara. That alone would make the dark side worth it, but she’s also got a dramatic cape, designed for quick getaways and punctuating her threats with style and panache. Besides, a cape is perfect for all occasions: casual get-togethers, formal events, murder, putting curses on people, flying away into the night. Ball gowns don’t have that kind of versatility.
She Can Transform Into a Dragon By far the coolest aspect of Maleficent’s character in Sleeping Beauty is her ability to turn into a dragon at will. Unfortunately, that awesome trait doesn’t belong to her in Maleficent, as instead of becoming a dragon and fighting Prince Phillip, she transforms her faithful crow/man pal instead and sends him off to do her bidding. It’s great to get your own movie, but is it really worth giving up your ability to become a dragon?
When it comes to bizarre and unpredictable career choices, nobody has the market cornered quite like Nicolas Cage. But his latest project might just be his weirdest yet - and yes, we're including combustible ghost-skeletons, father-daughter vigilante duos and angry drivers on that list. In the upcoming Left Behind, Cage plays Rayford Steele, a pilot who must find answers after half of the passengers on his plane disappear in the Rapture. The film, which also stars One Tree Hill's Chad Michael Murray and American Idol's Jordin Sparks, is based on a series of popular Christian apocalypse novels, which were previously made into a direct-to-DVD movie starring Kirk Cameron.
It makes perfect sense that the producers of Left Behind would want Cage to star in their film - partly because it will attract a wider audience, but mostly because he stares down the apocalypse on a regular basis - but that's about the only thing that makes sense in the first trailer for the film. We've rounded up all of the weirdest, most baffling moments in the trailer in order to attempt to make sense of not only Left Behind, but also the mysterious mind of Cage himself. Until those secrets are revealed, we can only assume that production met his requirements of serving hot lunch daily.
Someone Let Nicolas Cage Fly a Plane (0:06) Would you be willing to put your life and vacation plans in his hands? We didn't think so.
A Large Sign Instructs Viewers to 'Pray' (0:13) Because making through this movie in one piece will only be possible through an act of God.
The Plane Is Tossed Around in a Storm (0:32) Surely the storm would realize who's piloting that plane and change course before Cage unleashes his fury upon it. If anyone could figure out how to physically beat back lightning, it's the guy who made Season of the Witch.
Chad Michael Murray Is Filming the Empty Seats (0:36) Yes, we're curious as to why those people suddenly vanished, but we're more confused as to why he thinks he'll be able to find answers more effectively than a man who once stole the Declaration of Independence.
Nicolas Cage's Face Doesn't Move... (0:38)Yet he still manages to convey confusion, distress and authority in that oddly blank stare.
Samuel Goldwyn Films
Someone's Screaming About God, and It's Not Nicolas Cage (0:46) Sorry, pretty blonde girl, but Nicolas Cage is the only person who can scream to the heavens and actually receive a reply. He's the only person God truly fears.
Nicolas Cage's Face Still Isn't Moving (0:52) We can only assume that he's making so many films at the same time that he's started sending wax figures of himself to set in order to fill in for him on reaction shots and close-ups. Luckily, he chose an appropriately menacing one for this film.
Nicolas Cage Whispers About Important Life Philosophies (0:53 - 0:56) Does his advice make any sense? Not really. Should we all take his words to heart anyway, and change the way we choose to live our lives? Definitely.
Someone's Running From an Explosion, and It's Not Nicolas Cage (0:58)If a bomb goes off, but he's is otherwise occupied (in this case, crying into a cell phone he shouldn't be using on a plane), does it really explode?
This Movie Is Being Released in Theaters (1:00) We'd blame all the people who went to see God's Not Dead and Heaven Is For Real, but if those movies weren't a success, we'd all be robbed of the experience of watching Nicolas Cage face off against God in an action movie. It is truly a showdown for the ages.
Left Behind opens in theaters on October 3.
Issues about the blurry line between love and friendship aren’t the only important questions that the trailer for the "friend zone" rom-com What If brings to the forefront. More relevant than the question of whether or not you should tell your friend that you love them, more vital than who decided to have Daniel Radcliffe and Adam Driver stand next to each other, and more intriguing than the origin of everyone’s weird names is the question: Could Daniel Radcliffe be the rom com leading man we’ve been waiting for all along?
Let’s look at the evidence:
He’s Charming Charisma is a vital part of the rom-com hero formula – after all, he’s not just winning over his leading lady, but the entire audience as well. It’s a good thing, then, that Radcliffe has charm in spades, no doubt thanks to spending his formative years in the public eye. Whether he’s rambling a mile a minute about cricket or giving his fantasy football team a terribly funny name (Barkevious Mingo’s Mum) or campaigning for him and Dane DeHaan to win an award for Best Kiss, it’s hard not to fall under Radcliffe’s spell.
He’s Awkward Every leading man needs some kind of flaw to humanize them and makes them more approachable, and if the success of Jude Law and Hugh Grant’s movies prove anything, it’s that nobody does the “bumbling charmer” better than an Englishman. Radcliffe’s natural manic energy is the perfect basis for plenty of uncomfortable misunderstandings, physical comedy (like, say, someone getting knocked out of a window) and long-winded, heartfelt apologies that make everyone in the theater swoon.
He Seems Like a Regular Guy Though the most common rom-com hero has a strong jawline and a six pack, the most enduring ones seem like real people. Think Seth Rogen in Knocked Up or Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate or the most iconic of all, Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally. Despite being famous since he was a little kid, Radcliffe has that same Everyman appeal that makes those other guys so charming: good-looking but not intimidatingly so, confident but not cocky, intelligent but not insufferable. In short, Radcliffe seems like a guy you could actually be friends with, and that makes him more appealing.
He’s a Good Dancer Even if your rom-com doesn’t feature a scene where the hero sweeps his lady off her feet by being surprisingly light on his feet, it’s a necessary part of the whole “dream guy” package that Hollywood has been selling for years. And after starring in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Radcliffe’s got all the moves he needs to be the guy of your dreams, even if you can hear him counting out the steps under his breath.
He’s Comfortable With Goofy Sidekicks Just as the rom-com heroine has a sassy, less inhibited best friend (almost always played by Judy Greer), the hero has a sidekick of his own. As Harry Potter, Radcliffe spent 10 years with a best friend by his side at all times, which means he has plenty of experience talking about his relationship over a few beers or a game of cricket. Based on the trailer, it seems that Radcliffe’s put that to good use, and his chemistry with Driver gives the trailer some much needed goofiness. That height difference alone...
He’s Harry Potter It doesn’t matter whether you actually preferred Ron or Draco or even Cedric Diggory, every girl wants to date the Boy Who Lived. Well, every girl except Cho Chang, but to be fair, there were other factors at play there.
NBC Universal Media
After years of campaigning, tweeting, and generally taking over the Internet with their rally cries, Community fans might finally be getting that highly-anticipated, long-prophesied sixth season. According to Deadline, Hulu has begun talks with Sony, who produces the cult hit, about acquiring more original episodes of the show after it was canceled by NBC earlier this month. The talks are still in their very early stages, and a deal is nowhere close to guaranteed, but that hasn't prevented Community fans from whipping themselves into a frenzy over the possibility. Creator Dan Harmon has also promised to return if the show does, stating, “I’m not going to be the guy that re-cancels cancelled Community.”
The dedication of Community's fans has helped keep the show on the air for most of its run, so it's no surprise that they're determined to spend one more year at Greendale, no matter where the show moves. But while there are still plenty of reasons to give the show another shot, and lots of questions left to wrap up — Will Jeff end up with Britta or Annie? Are Rachel and Abed still together? Did Troy and Levar Burton manage to escape from those pirates? — resurrecting Community might not be for the best in the long run. Perhaps it's finally time for fans and characters alike to graduate and move forward with their lives.
The fifth season had a lot of obstacles to overcome, from the firing, departure and re-hiring of Harmon to several key cast members leaving to finding a way to keep the premise intact after the characters graduated at the end of Season 4. Both the fans and writers viewed it as a re-building season, designed to get Community back to feeling like its old self again. And while there were many aspects of that reset that were successful, the show never quite managed to flow the way it used to, and there were plenty of problems that seemed to suggest that it might be time for Community to begin wrapping up its stories.
The departure of Donald Glover and Chevy Chase has had a major impact on the study group's dynamic, as well as on the show as a whole. Without Pierce to be the unpredictable, over-the-top antagonist, the show had to invent more and more ridiculous ways to pit the characters against each other and the people around them to generate conflict. Without Troy, there was nobody left to balance Abed, and the frequency and absurdity of the jokes in every episode rapidly declined. While the addition of John Oliver's Professor Duncan and Jonathan Banks' Professor Hickey went a long way towards filling the holes left by their absences, both actors have starring roles on high-profile shows that will no doubt conflict with their ability to appear on Community next season, and their loss will only make the dramatic shift in dynamic and tone more obvious and more difficult to overcome.
Pierce and Troy's absence wasn't the only major problem the fifth season had. Many of the plots seemed to be repeating themselves — Greendale's in danger, it's saved by the study group, it's in danger again; Chang is evil, now he's reformed, no wait, now he's evil again; Jeff likes Britta, then he likes Annie, then he likes a random guest star, now he's back to Annie, now he's going to stay single — and the gimmicks that were once creative and interesting now seemed uninspired. Community mostly seemed to be spinning its wheels in its fifth season, and the writers seemed hesitant to commit to taking the plots in different, unexpected directions the way they used to. Even Harmon's return wasn't enough to get Community back to its old self. Though his work on the fifth season managed to right a lot of the wrongs of the season four "gas leak," it still didn't feel like the show had regained whatever spark it has lost over time. If anything, the latest season of Community seemed to suggest that the show has finally run out of steam.
Every show eventually hits a point when it becomes time to wrap things up, and it's impossible to sustain the concept or storylines or the writers just run out of new, wacky situations for the characters to wind up in. Community is a more high-concept, inventive show than most other sitcoms, and eventually, that began to weigh things down. There's a chance that a sixth season could give Community the kick it needs to wake up, but it seems more likely that it will just make the show's fatigue more obvious. The last two seasons have struggled to recapture the show's essence and what made it so special, but if Harmon couldn't bring it back, a sixth season probably won't manage the trick either. Is it really worth getting a sixth season of Community if it's no longer truly Community?
Over the course of the show's run, we've watched our favorite characters grow, change and mature. They've had epic paintball battles, survived campus-wide apocalypses, and supported Cougar Town through a cancelation scare, move to mid-season and the transition to a new network. But the end goal has always been graduation, accomplishing their goals and moving on to the real world. Eventually things have to come to an end, and maybe it's time for Community to do just that. Five seasons is an impressive run, especially for a show as weird and self-referential as this one. So maybe instead of hitting an arbitrary goal that we've assigned an incredible amount of importance to we should celebrate the time we spent with the study group, and move on along with them.
Whether Hulu decides to pick up the show or not, at least Community got the run that The Cape never did. If that's not justice, we don't know what is.
20th Century Fox Film via Everett Collection
With X-Men: Days of Future Past currently at the top of the box office and DC steadily teasing more and more about their upcoming superhero showdown, Marvel decided to keep itself in the news by throwing a new name into the ring: Charlie Cox. The Boardwalk Empire star is set to play Matt Murdock, a.k.a. Daredevil in the upcoming Netflix miniseries. Daredevil is the first of four heroes who will be receiving the small-screen treatment, with Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Iron Fist set to follow. Fans of the character have high expectations for the series, as the last time the Scarlet Swashbuckler appeared on-screen, he was played by Ben Affleck in the disastrous 2003 movie.
No matter what Cox does with the character, he will inevitably be compared to Affleck, whose performance has become something of a punchline amongst comic book fans. While there are a lot of things wrong with the Daredevil movie — terrible lighting, awkward editing, a script full of plot holes, a soundtrack full of Evanescence — nothing seems to inspire the kind of ire that Affleck's take on Matt Murdock has. A decade later, both Affleck and the film have their defenders, but whether you believe that Daredevil is an underrated classic or best forgotten completely, Cox has some big shows to fill, and a lot of wrongs to make right. Wrongs like:
Playing a Blind Character AppropriatelyMatt Murdock's blindness is an integral part of the character, and while the Daredevil movie did give it the import that it deserves, all of the torment, pain and difficulty that Matt dealt with as part of his life-changing injury were forgotten the second that Affleck took off his glasses, thanks to Affleck's blank, cross-eyed stare. Maybe it was the contacts, maybe it was the way he awkwardly held eye contact with whomever he was sharing the scene with, but either way, it was simultaneously hilarious and uncomfortable. We've got to believe Cox will do a better job, if only because it's impossible to do worse than Affleck.
Being Too Brooding Like most superheroes, Daredevil has a lot to be upset about: he was blinded as a child, his father was murdered, his girlfriend might be trying to kill him, and there's some weird Catholic guilt stuff he's dealing with. But unlike Batman, Daredevil is able to see the brighter side of things, and balances out his brooding side with some wise-cracks and charm. Affleck played up the dark, serious moments to the detriment of his charisma, resulting in a boring, overly-somber superhero. Cox, however, knows how to play up the charm, winning over both Claire Danes and Robert De Niro in Stardust — and that takes a lot of personality.
Not Brooding Enough Yes, you read that correctly. Affleck's turn as Daredevil somehow managed to be too cocky and too serious in equal measure, instead of finding the right balance of the two. When he wasn't skulking about sadly, Affleck was swanning about with an obnoxious smirk on his face, trading terribly-written quips with the supporting cast. Cox's biggest challenge will be finding a way to get across the character's joking nature as well as giving the right amount of gravitas to his angstier moments, or he, like Affleck, will somehow manage to upset both sides of the fandom.
Lacking Inner TurmoilOne of the biggest things that Matt struggles with is the idea of doing the right thing. He's an earnest, well-meaning guy, who only took up his vigilante hobbies in order to ensure that good people got the justice they deserve. While the script for Daredevil referenced that inner struggle, it was never really evident in Affleck's performance that it was something the character was really wrestling with. Cox has played his fair share of complicated characters, so he should be better equipped to hint at some of the conflicted feelings that Matt has about what he's doing. Or, you know, any feelings at all.
That Awkward Murdering-People Thing Like Superman before him, Daredevil has issues with brutally killing people just because they're bad guys. It has to do with all that Catholic guilt we mentioned earlier. However, in the first few minutes of the film, Affleck's throwing people in the path of a moving train, while Daredevil believes that violence is a last resort. While Cox has proven himself to be menacing and murderous, he's going to need to tone that down a bit in order to really bring Matt Murdock to life. Less strangling, more courtroom jargon.
Pulling Off Ridiculous Costumes With the exception of George Clooney's Batman, no hero has a more universally reviled costume than Affleck's Daredevil. Both too baggy and too tight and made of obnoxiously shiny read leather, it truly is the kind of costume only a blind person would design, and Affleck never looked comfortable in it. If you're forced to wear a ridiculous costume, you might as well commit to it, like Cox did with all of the ruffs and feathered hair he had to sport in Stardust. Embrace the absurdity, and it will embrace you right back.
And if all else fails, both Cox and Daredevil fans can take comfort in the fact that the fight scenes will be better choreographed than this:
Buena Vista Pictures via Everett Collection
Now that he's played gangsters, pirates and mad hatters, Johnny Depp is set to make some real magic. The Oscar-nominated actor is reportedly in talks to play Harry Houdini in a biopic about the legendary magician, according to Variety. Based on the book The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero, the film will chronicle Houdini's life and career, from his poor childhood, his international fame and the time he spent working as a spy, culminating in his mysterious death on Halloween, 1926. Dean Parisot, who has previously directed Galaxy Quest and Red 2 is on board to direct, which bodes well for the film's intense stunt sequences, and will feature a script from The Maze Runner's Noah Oppenheim.
Depp has long been Hollywood's go-to actor whenever a film requires someone to play an oddball that still appeals to a mainstream audience, so it's not particularly surprising that he's being considered for the role. As an escape artist, illusionist, actor and aviator, Houdini cultivated a reputation for mystery and confusion over the course of his career, and even his death was shrouded in suspicion. Since the height of his fame in the early 20th century, his name has become synonymous with everything weird, perplexing and difficult to explain. Therefore, a fitting biopic would need to incorporate that reputation with the right amount of campiness to properly evoke the vaudeville spirit of his magic shows, and there are few actors in Hollywood who better exemplify campy darkness than Depp.
All of his most famous characters feature the kind of strange, off quality that is necessary to play Houdini, and both his on and off-screen personas lend themselves to portraying someone who is famous for the mystery that surrounds them. And despite being taller than the famously-short Houdini was, Depp looks the part, sharing the same sharp cheekbones, bright blue eyes and charming smile that Houdini was described as having. Depp often uses his charm and wit to make kooky characters seem friendly and entertaining, and Houdini often used his charisma in a similar way, drawing in massive audiences to witness his death-defying stunts. Plus, if there's anyone in Hollywood who looks like an off-duty illusionist, it's the guy who played Edward Scissorhands.
Though Depp's campiness and oddball nature is a major strength of his, many of his recent films have abandoned any kind of subtlety in favor of fully embracing all of the weirdness and absurdity they could possibly pack into one film. While that approach may work for something like Alice in Wonderland, which is set in a fantasy world, it doesn't necessarily bode well for a biopic that is grounded in reality. Houdini was a weird character, but his story is still rooted in the very real dangers that his profession and hobbies provided. A little bit of camp would serve the story well, but too much will overwhelm it and reduce it to simply a vehicle for another wacky performance of Depp's.
Biopics aren't Depp's forte as an actor, as it's often difficult to find real-life person whose story requires the kind of kookiness that Depp naturally exudes. His most recent, Public Enemies, was too serious to allow Depp to properly throw himself into the role, resulting in a performance that felt stilted and wooden. Watching the film, it was difficult to separate Depp from the character of John Dillinger, which makes it difficult for audiences to really connect with the story. While Depp should have better luck losing himself in a character like Houdini, it's still going to be a challenge for him to let go of his off-screen persona and allow moviegoers to experience Houdini, rather than Depp-as-Houdini.
If the script for the film veers too serious, it runs the risk of confining Depp, resulting in an awkward, wooden performance. However, if it edges too far into the absurd, the character or Houdini will probably be overshadowed by all of the funny tics and strange character choices that Depp will make. His recent films aren't known for their moderation, so it would require a strong directorial vision to keep Depp from chewing the scenery to the detriment of the story as a whole. The box office returns of his recent films seem to suggest that fans are looking for something different from Depp, as both the over-the-top weirdness of Lone Ranger and his straight-computer turn in Transcendence failed to win them over. Houdini could be the median he needs to impress moviegoers again, but if the film leans too far into the surreal or the straightforward, Depp will just be doing the same old thing.
Hopefully Depp and the team behind the Houdini biopic will be able to find the right balance between insanity and history in order to make a film that's both critically and financially successful. After all, it's difficult to find a guy who can pull off the suit-and-shackles look quite like Depp can.
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Pixar
The next Pixar movie might not be released in theaters for another year, but it sounds like it's going to be a good one. The studio released the plot summary for its upcoming feature, Inside Out, which will journey into their most dangerous location yet: the human mind.
According to Pixar's website, Inside Out centers on 11-year-old Riley, who "is uprooted from her Midwest life when her father starts a new job in San Francisco. Like all of us, Riley is guided by her emotions — Joy (Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith). The emotions live in Headquarters, the control center inside Riley’s mind, where they help advise her through everyday life. As Riley and her emotions struggle to adjust to a new life in San Francisco, turmoil ensues in Headquarters. Although Joy, Riley’s main and most important emotion, tries to keep things positive, the emotions conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house and school.”
From the looks of it, Pixar has managed to perfectly match each emotion to an actor who truly exemplifies it. There's nobody in showbusiness angrier than Black, nobody more up-beat and bubbly than Poehler, and definitely nobody better at turning disgust into hilarity than Kaling. But they're not the only celebrities who are the human embodiment of a particular emotion; Hollywood is full of them. We've rounded up a bunch of our favorites, in case Pixar is looking to expand the cast for the inevitable sequel.
Aziz Ansari – ExcitementTry and think of a time that Aziz Ansari wasn't completely enthused about something. You can't, can you?
Michael Cera – AnxietyPart of the reason why Michael Cera is so good at playing awkward, nervous characters is that he's never once seemed relaxed in any situation he's ever been in.
Aubrey Plaza – BoredomWhether she's playing April Ludgate or just being herself, one thing's always certain: Aubrey Plaza could not be less interested in anything going on around her.
Kanye West – ConfidenceNobody in the world loves Kanye West more than Kanye himself. We should all aspire to believe in ourselves that much.
Charlie Day – ManiaNeed someone to shriek about spaceships or eat some cat food? Charlie Day's your guy, from his mile-a-minute speech patterns to the wild look in his eyes to his inherent unpredictability.
Morgan Freeman – CalmSpa days, crashing waves, smooth jazz... all of these things are somehow less serene than Morgan Freeman. He's a human lullaby.
Larry David – ExasperationIf anyone can find a reason to be annoyed in any given situation, it's Larry David. He's made a living educating audiences unto many grievances that would never have otherwise occured to us.
Jimmy Fallon – PassionSome people give 100 percent to their projects. Jimmy Fallon gives 100 percent to other people's projects, and still has enough enthusiasm left over to do his own show.
Taylor Swift – LoveYou might think you've been in love, but Taylor Swift has four albums worth of songs that would beg to differ. She's turned puppy love into an art form.
Ken Watanabe – AweAnyone can stand by and watch Godzilla trample a city, but it takes true talent to steal the film out from under him with a single, wide-eyed look. Ken Watanabe has that kind of talent.
The films have all premiered, the awards have been handed out, and the yachts are headed back home: the Cannes Film Festival has officially come to an end, which means even those of us lucky enough to spend two weeks on the French Riviera must now head for less-idyllic shores. But just because the festival has wrapped up, that doesn't mean there aren't a few films left to catch up on, and so we've rounded up the last of Cannes' biggest and buzziest films, including the winner of the Palme d'Or, a gang movie told entirely in Ukranian sign language and Kristen Stewart's best-reviewed film role yet.
Winter Sleep This year's Palme d'Or winner was also the longest film in competition, with a runtime of just over three hours. However, its epic length didn't deter judges from heaping praise on the film, which follows retired actor and hotel owner Mr. Aydin (Haluk Biginer) as he deals with the dissolution of his marriage to Nihal (Melisa Sozen). As the slow winter season arrives, the relationship between Aydin and Nihal becomes more and more fractured as she attempts to get him to face up to the issues that have made so many people turn against him. Winter Sleep is director Nuri Bilge Ceylan's fourth win at Cannes — he has won the second place award twice, in 2002 and 2011, and took home a directing award in 2008.
"Given that the title virtually encourages viewers to nap during the proceedings, Winter Sleep is no chore to sit through. Most of its characters are complex and compelling, and the actors’ faces, craggy or lustrous, reward fascinated study. The movie indulges one frustrating narrative trope in too many Cannes contenders: the unexplained disappearance of a major figure more than halfway through the story [...]. But as austere soap opera or probing character study, Winter Sleep validates the viewer’s attention, if not its nearly 200-min. running time — make that ambling time." - Richard Corliss, TIME
"That said, the performances are strong (bar a scene between Aydin and Nihal in which Bilginer suddenly plays Aydin as so one-note patronizing and condescending toward his young wife that we just wanted to punch him) and Ceylan’s and DP Gokhan Tiryaki's way with composition and cinematography is in evidence even in the interior scenes (which are most of them), lighting faces warmly and designing shots richly, which needs to happen when almost everything takes place in shot-reverse-shot, he-says-then-she-says format. But the unpleasantness of being constantly trapped in the middle of conversations of increasing resentment and bitterness starts to take its toll less than halfway through this marathon-length film as we start to realize that just as the characters all seem defined by the overweening desire to have the last word in every discussion [...], it’s a foible of Ceylan’s too." - Jessica Kiang, The Playlist
Mommy Helmed by 25-year-old Xavier Dolan, Mommy is set in the distant future, where parents are forced to either care for their unstable children or send them to detention centers. Diane (Anne Dorval), is a single mother who is struggling to raise her violent son, Steve (Antoine Olivier Pilon) on her own. Diane eventually begins to receive help from their mysterious new neighbor, Kyla (Suzanne Clement), and together, the three of them form their own dysfunctional family. Dolan was awarded the jury prize at the festival, an award that he (the youngest director in competition) shared with Jean-Luc Godard (the oldest), for his film Goodbye to Language 3D.
"Dorval gives a force-of-nature performance as Diane “Die” Despres, a glamorously trashy middle-aged widow whose teenage son Steve suffers from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, bouncing off the walls as he struggles to contain his explosively violent temper. Pilon is great casting for Steve, charismatic and manipulative, volatile but vulnerable. [...] Diane and Steve are both flawed characters, neither victims nor villains. Their conversations are combative and prickly, full of salty slang and occasional physical contact, with teasing hints of incestuous intimacy that the script never fully explores. Unlike Dolan's typical protagonists, these are not bourgeois bohemian hipsters but damaged blue-collar outsiders, struggling yet ever hopeful, bursting with a vitality and vulgarity that give the film its raw humor." - Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter
"It's a needlessly complicated introduction that makes the film to come sound somewhat like science fiction; Die and Steve's household, however, is believably exceptional enough to render the mitigating circumstances unnecessary. Their sparring is engrossingly abrasive, but the film risks wearing itself (not to mention its audience) out within a mere quarter-hour. Dorval and Pilon, both remarkable, are cranked up to 11 from the get-go, while Dolan's chosen aspect ratio forces cinematographer Andre Turpin into a claustrophobically repetitive routine of alternating, invasive close-ups. It's bravura filmmaking, all right, but the center cannot hold." - Guy Lodge, HitFix
The Clouds of Sils MariaOliver Assayas' bilingual Hollywood drama stars Juliette Binoche as Maria Enders, an actress entering the twilight of her career, who has signed on to star in a revival of the play that made her famous about an ambitious young girl who drives an older woman to suicide. As she spends more and more time with the Hollywood starlet (Chloe Grace Moretz) taking over her old role, Maria's life begins to crumble, and she comes to rely on her loyal assistant and only friend Valentine (Kristen Stewart). The role forces Maria to confront the person she is and used to be and reconcile with her past and the impending pressures of time.
"Maria and Val love each other and live together, but their friendship has never been on an equal footing. Passing a cigarette back and forth, they proceed to rehearse the old play to the point where it highlights and defines the running tensions between them. Val, we come to realise, is the real Sigrid in this movie. Assayas is a supple, playful and confident director whose eclectic body of work has embraced mercurial satire (Irma Vep), period drama (Sentimental Destinies) and terrorist thrills (Carlos). [...] It's a study of the artistic elite from a fully paid-up member, a story that proves a little too tolerant of the preening peacocks at the summit and too glibly dismissive of the bottom-feeders (hacks, paps and internet trolls) down below." - Xan Brooks, The Guardian
"Assayas’ screenplay deftly celebrates the act of creation and neatly demonstrates that works of art, like people, can be viewed from different angles, their true meaning unknowable. The French filmmaker also neatly dovetails the relationship of Sigrid and Helena with that of Maria and Valentine: the pair are close, at times bordering on getting too close, and their power dynamic squirms and coils as the film develops - a Maloja Snake of its own." - Matt Risley, Total Film
Leviathan A modern re-telling of the Book of Job, Leviathan tackles the corruption of Vladimir Putin's government, and deals with "some of the most important social issues of contemporary Russia." The film centers on a family who is currently locked in a bitter dispute with its corrupt mayor over the waterfront property on which its house is built. But when the patriarch of the family calls in an old friend — who is now a big-shot lawyer — to help him, he may end up making things even more difficult for himself. Written and directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev, Leviathan received rave reviews and took home the festival's prize for Best Screenplay.
"In “Leviathan,” which director Andrey Zvyagintsev has described as a loose retelling of the Book of Job, an ordinary man must wrestle with his faith not in God but in the Russian state — an epic struggle against a monster with many faces possessed of the capacity to bend the law to suit its own appetites. Resistance is futile, as they say, and yet this stunning satire’s embattled patriarch valiantly perseveres for the sake of his family, even as it crumbles around him. Debuting in competition at Cannes, this engrossing, arthouse-bound opus spans a meaty 142 minutes and unfolds with the heft of a 1,000-page novel." - Peter Debruge, Variety
"The film is really about contemporary Russia, the corruption of the current regime, exemplified by Vadim, who has a portrait of Putin on his wall [...] and of the increasingly insidious influence of the Russian Orthodox Church on the nation's leaders. Given Putin's feelings on dissent, and the partial-funding of the movie by a state body, it's a brave move, and an incredibly vital one, giving the movie a savage, fiery quality to it that continues to sear long after it's finished. And yet, it's not just political point-scoring either. There's a rich lyricism and poetry to the picture that promises more and more to unpack with every viewing." - Oliver Lyttelton, IndieWire
The Tribe Featuring a cast of deaf-mute actors, The Tribe is a teen-gang film told entirely in Ukranian sign language. The film doesn't feature any subtitles or translations, relying entirely on sign language and imagery in order to tell the story of a group of teenagers at a boarding school for the deaf who are average students by day and gangsters and prostitutes by night. Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy's ambitious project took home the top Critic's Prize awarded at the festival, as well as the France 4 Visionary Award.
"There have been countless films over the years about teenage gangs, their rites, rituals and violent codes of ethics, but Ukrainian-made and set The Tribe must surely be the first one featuring a cast entirely composed of deaf sign-language users. [...] However, the use of sign language, deafness and silence itself adds several heady new ingredients to the base material, alchemically creating something rich, strange and very original. Add in Valentyn Vasyanovych's silky smooth steadicam cinematography, sexually explicit imagery, strong critical support, and winning the top prize and two more besides in Cannes' Critics' Week sidebar (including one to assist distribution in France), and you've got a reasonably exportable item for the specialist market that doesn't even need subtitles." - Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter