No two elements in Hollywood make more sense together than Ridley Scott and epic, sprawling period dramas. After all, who better to direct an action packed, intensely dramatic, incredibly serious film about Moses leading the Jews out of slavery in Egypt than the man who made Gladiator and Black Hawk Down? Unfortunately, that's about the only thing that seems to make any sense about his latest film, Exodus: Gods and Kings, a movie that promises to live up to its poster. The first trailer for the epic sees Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton (who are Welsh and Australian, respectively) face off over the people of Egypt.
At least, that's what we think is going on. To be honest, we were a bit distracted by the sheer insanity of the trailer to really follow along with the plot. No matter how hard we tried to pay attention to the exposition that the dramatic voice-over was revealing or focus on the intensity of the torch-lit glares, there would be something else that drew our attention and made us stop everything we were doing in order to exclaim "Wait, what?!" In a desperate attempt to make sense of everything that's going on in Exodus: Gods and Kings, we've rounded up all of the most surprising, confusing and downright insane moments in the trailer.
0:13 – Christian Bale’s Impeccably Trimmed Facial Hair Was ancient Egypt particularly well known for its barbers? Because the angles on that goatee are distractingly perfect. Surely Moses has more important things to deal with than making sure that is facial hair looks pristine at all times... like, say, freeing the slaves? Bale doesn't even show up to the Oscars this well groomed.
0: 19 – Joel Edgerton’s Painted-On Eyebrows Was the makeup team worried that audiences wouldn’t be able to find Edgerton’s eyes after he shaved his head? Did they really think we needed two clear arrows pointing at them at all times, so that we can better appreciate the intensity of his gaze? Did they confuse old hieroglyphs for an accurate representation of what people’s eyebrows looked like then, and attempt to match his makeup to a cave wall?
0:24 – What Accent Is That Supposed to Be? It’s clearly an attempt at the standard “British gravitas” that is a fundamental requirement of any epic period piece, but then towards the end of the line, it takes a strange detour into what we can only assume is an attempt at Egyptian, but which really sounds more like someone from a vaguely European country speaking with his mouth full.
0:27 – Hang on, Was There an Epic Battle in the Original Story?There was definitely fire, we know that, but as far as we remembered it came from a burning bush. Was there this much swordplay in the Bible? Did Ridley Scott just grow up reading a different version of the story or was this all in there, just buried between the lines? Maybe we’ve all been wrong this whole time…
20th Century Fox Film
0:31 – Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton Are in Two Completely Different Movies Edgerton clearly thinks he’s starring in a shot-for-shot remake of a classic Hollywood epic, complete with period-accurate – well, for the 1950s and ‘60s, at least – makeup and the kind of voice that proclaims, “I am a Serious Actor. Respect Me.” Whereas Bale is clearly playing off-duty Bruce Wayne, who has been hanging out in his desert mansion for a while in order to build up his base tan.
0:41 – Is Someone Casting a Spell on that Baby? Why else would you wave your hands over its head? What did this baby do to warrant a curse like that? It didn’t harm anyone, it’s just a baby. What movie do you think this is, Maleficent? Also, why would you wake up a sleeping baby? It probably just got to sleep and now it’s going to be up all night, which means someone’s going to be exhausted when they show up for battle tomorrow. Nobody wants sleepy soldiers.
1:06 – Wait, Sigourney Weaver Is in This? Wow, they didn’t even try to cast anyone who looks like they could actually be from this region, did they? Also, is she playing someone’s mother? Because Sigourney Weaver is far too young to play either Christian Bale or Joel Edgerton’s mother, and yet here she is, looking authoritative and resplendent, like she’s going to yell at Moses and Ramses to stop fighting and clean up their wing of the palace, without even smudging her perfect eyeliner.
1:14 – Moses’ Casual Reveal of the Plagues About to Terrorize Egypt“Oh, hey Ramses. Don’t freak out or anything, but there’s something really terrifying headed your way, and I’m not gonna stop it or anything, but you’re basically screwed. No worries, though. I’m sure it will all work out fine. Well, it was good talking to you, hope the hail doesn’t knock you out. See you at the family reunion!”
1:22 – Christian Bale’s “Serious Archer” Face If you’re leading an army into battle against their greatest foe, the king who has held them captive for generations, you might want to find a facial expression that’s a bit more intimidating and inspiring than just opening your mouth as wide as you can and refusing to blink. You were Batman. You should have a perfect fighting face ready for any occasion.
1:30 – The Plainest Title Cards of All Time After a minute and a half of sweeping panoramas, epic battle scenes, stunning visual effects and a literal river of blood, the trailer fades out into the titles… which are just thin silver letters on a black background. Did they run out of money for titles thanks to the massive effects budget? If you’re going to wimp out on the titles, at least try and pick an interesting font. It’s advertising 101.
And we didn't even touch on the fact that Aaron Paul is playing Moses' second in command. Exodus: Gods and Kings opens in theaters on December 12.
Getty Images/Laurence Griffiths
If you happened to miss the first half of today’s World Cup semifinal match between Brazil and Germany, you missed out on perhaps the most shocking 45 minutes of television since the season finale of Game of Thrones (not this past one, the good one). In a series of events the escalated far too quickly for Brazil fans’ liking, the German national team scored five goals in rapid succession, which sent spectators around the world rushing to their Twitter feeds in hopes of being the first person they knew to make an Anchorman joke. But just because Brazil is down, it doesn’t mean it's out, and whether they win or lose today – and if they win, it will probably be the most memorable soccer game of all time – they’ve still got plenty to be proud of. So, cheer up, Brazil, you’ve still got plenty! Like...
You still have more World Cup titles than any other nation.
You're still the biggest country in South America.
You still have an entire population of people that look like Giselle Bundchen.
You still have Pele's glory days.
You still have Christ the Redeemer, the biggest art deco statue in the world. Oh wait...
Hey, Carnival is only seven months away...
You still have that weird version of volleyball where you can only use your feet. That's almost soccer, right?
You still have City of God, the only movie in the world that everyone thinks is good.
You still produce more Victoria's Secret models than any other country.
You still have the knowledge that most other countries look like idiots when dancing the samba.
You still have the comfort of knowing that the Red Wedding was still a more gruesome massacre than what you just went through.
And hey, there'll probably be at least two more Rio movies! That's worth something, right?
Movie posters are a tricky medium. They need to sum up the premise of a film, showcase the stars, and still be flashy and intriguing enough to attract random moviegoers’ attention, while still being simple enough to look good on the wall of a college dorm room. Sometimes, designers fight back against that expectation, and come up with a more creative solution. Unfortunately in the case of Exodus: Gods and Kings, the creative solution wasn't a good one. Instead of previewing the no doubt epic struggle for power between Moses (played here by Christian Bale, because why not) and King Rhamses (played here by Joel Edgerton, with the eyebrows of a 1950s screen villain) as Moses attempts to free the Jews from slavery in Egypt, the poster instead gives us a disgruntled looking Bruce Wayne and a vaguely familiar guy who just smelt something terrible standing in front of a fake pyramid in a world where the only visible colors are gold and shadow. There’s got to be some explanation for this, some logical reason why people actually signed off on this poster, right? Here are our theories:
20th Century Fox
The designer in charge of the poster was still a little worn down from the epic Fourth of July party they went to, and when they realized that the final poster was due on their boss’s desk bright and early yesterday morning, they pulled the first still they could find off of a Christian Bale fansite, played around with the coloring, and came up with a spiel about the colors “connecting them, but highlighting their differences” in order to cover it up.
The designer’s going through a “gold” period right now, and that bleeds into everything they’re working on. It’s art; you couldn’t possibly understand.
The intern in charge of touching up the colors just figured out how to work the contrast controls and got a little over-excited. It’s their first week, cut them some slack, okay?
Someone was standing in Christian Bale’s light again, but rather than drawing attention to it on set, everyone decided it was better to fix the colors afterwards, but it was worse than they first anticipated, and after spending weeks on the tiniest tweaks, they gave up and made the whole thing black and white (and gold).
In an attempt to market the film toward a younger audience, the head of the studio commanded the designer to oversaturate and over shadow and selectively color the poster so it looks like it “could be from that Twistagram thing. You know the photo site? I forget the name, but my daughter’s always using it on her phone.” The good news is that it looks amazing under the Valencia filter.
The designer colored the poster on Instagram on his way into the office.
The head of the studio can only see shades of gold and black, and he just really wanted to be able to see what the movie was promoting. He’s a big Christian Bale fan.
The art department at 20th Century Fox started hiring people off of Tumblr and DeviantArt to work on movie posters.
Everyone’s Internet connections are playing tricks on them, and it just looks like the contrast is out of control. When pressed for a comment, someone at the studio was quoted as saying “These are not the droids you’re looking for.”
Joel Edgerton and Christian Bale lost World Cup bets to some of the crew members, and found out that they’d have to pay an absurd amount of money at the exact moment that the camera went off for the poster shoot. But to be fair, how were they supposed to know that Spain was going to have such a terrible year?
Christian Bale saw the first pictures from Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice while shooting, and this was the only picture they could get of him before he stormed off set.
Joel Edgerton has a long-standing blood feud with someone in the promotions department at 20th Century Fox, so they purposely picked an outtake from the photo-shoot and overemphasized the eyebrows to make him look bad on an international movie poster.
Neither one of the stars was available to take promo pictures and they didn’t have any usable stills, so they photo shopped Christian Bale’s head onto a random extras body and found an actor in the 1963 Cleopatra that vaguely looked like Joel Edgerton, slapped him in there and de-saturated the colors in the hopes that nobody would notice.
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Whether you loved the way it neatly wrapped things up or hated the cheesy fairy tale ending it gave the series, the epilogue to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has been, for the most part, the only real glimpse that fans got at the lives of Harry, Ron, and Hermione after their time at Hogwarts concluded. Though many have been able to get their fix of the Wizarding World through the snippets that J.K. Rowling has posted on Pottermore, she's been silent on the fate of the Golden Trio and the rest of Dumbledore's Army... until Tuesday morning, that is. In honor of the Quidditch World Cup — which conveniently coincides with the muggle world's World Cup — the author has released a series of short stories and mock articles about the game, its history, and now its famous spectators.
But while the always reliable Rita Skeeter has filled us in on what Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny have been up to in the years since school (working as an Auror, helping George run Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, working up the ranks in the Ministry, and becoming a Quidditch reporter, respectively), there are still so many more characters whose fates were not addressed. In fact, Rita's article brings up more questions than answers, since everything it reveals leaves us wanting to know more about the Wizarding World. On the off chance that Rowling is looking for inspiration for another Pottermore update, we'd recommend she start by tackling some of these burning questions:
Where’s Draco Malfoy? We don’t expect Draco to be hanging out with Dumbledore’s Army any more now than he did when they were all at Hogwarts, but does Rowling really expect us to believe that he would pass up any opportunity to swan around a VIP area and brag about his success, real or exaggerated? Surely, if everyone were gathering at the World Cup, he would be there, flanked by Crabbe and Goyle and ready to start a fight, just as he always was. Draco Malfoy never shies away from a potential spotlight.
Did Lee Jordan Ever Make It as a Quidditch Announcer? Perhaps the greatest sports announcers – real or fictional – of all time, Lee Jordan had a gift for adding color and sass to even the most boring of calls, and even if Professor McGonagall didn’t appreciate his admittedly biased reporting, readers certainly did. It’s hard to imagine a career that suits the Weasley twins’ former partner-in-crime better.
How Does Rita Have Trouble Telling the Weasley Boys Apart? They might all have red hair, freckles and hand-me-down clothes, but all of the Weasley boys are distinct entities, and if she’s already got Ron and Bill down, it shouldn’t be too difficult for her to figure out the other three. Here’s a cheat sheet: if he looks self-important, slightly nerdy, and wears glasses, it’s Percy; if he’s ruggedly handsome and desert-worn, it’s Charlie, and if he has one ear, is constantly joking around and seems like there should be another one of him standing right there, it’s George.
Has Luna Mellowed Out Since School? Rita seems intrigued by Luna’s World Cup outfit, but we’re a little disappointed by it. What happened to the elaborate roaring lion’s head she broke out for a Gryffindor vs. Slytherin match in the sixth book? Where are her radish earrings or her Spectrespecs or her colorful shoes? This is the tamest Luna costume we’ve seen, and it makes us a bit worried that she’s lost some of her unique, spacey edge.
What Did Hannah Abbott Do Before She Married Neville? The epilogue revealed a bit about what the other potential Boy Who Lived has been up to since school has ended, but we know next to nothing about the new Mrs. Longbottom. What were her school years like? What did she get her OWLs in? How did she and Neville meet and fall in love? How long have they been married? What did she do for work before deciding to become a Healer and move to Hogwarts with Neville? Forget the Marauders; we want to hear a lot more about Neville and Hannah.
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Where’s Angelina Johnson? There’s no way that the former Gryffindor Captain would let her husband George Weasley attend the Quidditch World Cup without her. After all, this is the one person who was as obsessed with the sport as Oliver Wood, who captained the team with a drive and determination that would have made even her predecessor request a day off. The only possibly explanation, therefore, is that she’s a Chaser on the English National Team and was getting ready for the match at the time Rita observed her friends.
Is Hagrid Still Working at Hogwarts? That mention of Neville and Hannah hoping to move to the school’s grounds reminded us of the only non-dormitory living quarters we’ve seen: Hagrid’s hut. So, naturally, we’re curious as to what the Wizarding World’s foremost foster parent to dangerous animals is up to now. Is he still working as the Keeper of the Keys and Grounds? Did he and Madame Maxime ever manage to work things out? Did he ever get his pet dragon? For the sake of everyone else on the Hogwarts grounds, we’re hoping the answer to that last one is still “no.”
Is Professor McGonagall Still Headmaster? She was, after all, the natural successor to Dumbledore. And more importantly, is she still the toughest, kindest, smartest, most sensible and admirable woman in the Wizarding World? Actually, we can just answer that one ourselves. She definitely is.
Who’s the Current Minister of Magic? We know that the Department of Magical Transportation falls under Percy’s jurisdiction, and that Hermione is, as expected, quickly working her way up the ranks at the Ministry, and is currently the Deputy Head of Magical Law Enforcement. But what we don’t know is who Hermione would potentially be outsing as Minister of Magic, should she ascend to the position. Last we heard, it was Kingsley Shacklebolt, but knowing the Wizarding World as well as we do, it’s entirely possible that power has changed hands since then.
Who Is Still Hiring Rita Skeeter as a Writer? Was the Daily Prophet so desperate for subscriptions that they kept her on? Or does the Wizarding World have its own version of TMZ, where Rita can write and publish all of the gossip her QuickQuotesQuill can possibly come up with? Is there a publication out there that could keep up with the sheer number of slander lawsuits she’s probably had filed against her?
Charlie Weasley Is Basically the Wizarding World’s Equivalent of George Clooney, Right? Handsome bachelor, more focused on his glamorous job than his love life, unlikely to settle down any time soon, but making people swoon everywhere he goes? All Charlie needs is a villa in Italy, and they’d be the exact same person.
20th Century Fox Film via Everett Collection
There are many actors who routinely give wonderful, memorable performances, but there's only one who manages to do it even when his face doesn't appear onscreen. That man is Andy Serkis, Hollywood's foremost motion capture actor, the rare talent that can bring just as much life to a Tolkien creature or a hyper-intelligent ape as he can another human being. Since the first installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy hit theaters in 2001, Serkis has been the movie industry's go-to guy for animating everything from monkeys to sailors to Gollums, and his consistently excellent performances each time kicked off a campaign to have motion capture work recognized by the Academy Awards. With Serkis set to return to the big screen (in simian form) as Caesar in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes on Friday, we've decided to take a look at some of the actor's most memorably mo-cap characters in order to determine which one comes out on top in the great battle for supremacy.
Caesar Films: Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Species: Chimpanzee Trademarks: Being an incredibly intelligent ape Special Skills: High intelligence, the ability to speak, the wisdom and power to rule over a colony of apes, proficiency in horse-riding and shooting Allies: James Franco and Frieda Pinto in Rise of the Planet of the Apes; Jason Clarke and Keri Russell in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Enemies: Draco Malfoy and Commissioner GordonGreatest Dream: A world where apes and humans can live in peace, minus cagesSecret Weapon: He’s a hyper-intelligent ape that can speak to people; he doesn’t need a secret weaponSignature Move: A barrage of fists to the head
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Captain Haddock Film: The Adventures of Tintin Species: Human Trademarks: Beard, pipe, captain’s hat, permanently grumpy expression Special Skills: A talent for holding his liquor, a colorful vocabulary, a gift for sarcasm and wisecracks, the ability to tune out chaos and revel in blissful ignorance, unfailing loyalty Allies: Tintin and Snowy Enemies: Ivan Ivanovitch Sakharine Greatest Dream: To regain command of his ship, but more immediately, some more rum Secret Weapon: He’s at his best when he’s drunk, which is the polar opposite of every other person everSignature Move: He’s more of a trash-talker than a proper fighter
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King Kong Film: Kingof course Species: Gorilla Trademarks: He’s a 25-foot-tall gorilla. That’s pretty unique. Special Skills: incredible strength, a sense of self-preservation, the ability to make audiences sympathize and even shed a tear over a monstrous simian Allies: Ann Darrow, with whom he falls in love, and Lumpy the Cook, who tells the crew to leave King Kong alone (or else)Enemies: Carl Denham, fighter planes Greatest Dream: To live happily in his jungle with Ann Secret Weapon: The willingness to sacrifice himself for the people he loves and an incredible resistance to tranquilizers (seriously, it took them forever to knock him out) Signature Move: A giant, sweeping side-swipe and roar combination
Warner Bros. Pictures via Everett Collection
Gollum Films: The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogiesSpecies: Technically, he was once a Hobbit, but now he’s mostly a species unto himselfTrademarks: Hunched, bony body, six teeth, a lack of hair, that weird snarling noise he always makes Special Skills: Riddle solving, hunting and fishing, deboning fish, finding ways to amuse himself after spending centuries in the same cave Allies: Whichever part of himself he’s currently talking to Enemies: Anyone who wants the precious... and whichever part of himself he’s currently talking to Greatest Dream: To once again possess the precious so that they may live together in his cave until the end of their days Secret Weapon: He’ll lure you in by appearing nice, and then turn out to be straight up terrifying; also, he’s so mentally unstable and unpredictable, only half of him knows what he’s going to do at any given momentSignature Move: Gollum’s totally a biter
So Who Wins? Captain Haddock is generally too drunk to get involved in a fight, so he’s out, as is King Kong, unless his life or Ann’s life is being threatened. That leaves Caesar and Gollum left to fight it out. While Caesar is smarter and more likely to have both a carefully, thought-out strategy and an army on call, Gollum is just insane and unpredictable enough to take Caesar out. We’re going to have to go with the creature formerly known as Smeagol on this one.
There’s nothing that the media loves more than a good villain, and unfortunately for Ben Affleck, it seems like it might finally be his turn as the “most hated man in America.” Or, at least, his character in David Fincher’s adaptation of Gone Girl is. The latest trailer for the film highlights the criminal investigation and the media frenzy that Nick Dunne is in the middle of after his wife Amy disappears on their anniversary, and the evidence against him seems to be mounting higher and higher, all of which seems to suggest only one possible solution to Amy’s disappearance: Nick murdered his wife.
Based on the evidence that the trailer reveals – the voice-over of Amy’s diaries repeating her fears about what Nick is capable of, both the media and her parents turning against him, the doubts cast on how genuine he’s being to the people assisting in the search, the cops’ pointed questions – it seems pretty cut and dry that we’re supposed to think that Nick is guilty. But Gone Girl is not a cut and dry story, and the success of the book relies heavily on a twist that is revealed about halfway through. The trailer doesn’t give any of that away, of course, but unlike its source material, it does have an impact on the way we see the events of the film, even before we go into it. The trailer wants us to think that Nick Dunne is guilty, and so even if you find that a little too obvious to believe, it’s still going to be in the back of your mind when you watch them film. If you buy that he’s guilty, you’re going to be looking for things to back you up, and ignore any evidence that raises any suspicion to the contrary. If you believe that there’s more to this story than meets the eye, you’re going to spend the whole time looking for loopholes and clues that point elsewhere.
20th Century Fox Film
Unlike with the book, there’s no way to go into Gone Girl impartially, which could affect the impact that the plot’s major twist has on the audience. Moviegoers who are too suspicious may spot it coming, and those who have already made up their minds as to whether or not Nick is guilty could be disappointed or frustrated to find out the truth. Both of these reactions could lessen the impact of the twist or take the audience out of the world of the film, which means that the film might not be as successful on a storytelling level as the novel was.
Releasing a trailer that attempts to convince the audience to see things a certain way before the film arrives in theaters is a risky move. It practically spells out how audiences should feel about the events they're about to see unfold, and unless there's a good reason to do so (like the twist at the center of Gone Girl) it could sway moviegoers too much, which impacts their enjoyment of the film. If they know how they're supposed to react to things before they're allowed to, it could keep them from forming their own opinion about the characters and story they're watching. Hopefully, the trailer for Gone Girl isn't so persuasive that it doesn't allow audiences room to change their perspectives as more and more gets revealed about all of the characters. After all, if you've already made up your mind about what's going to unfold, what's the point in watching it do so?
Gone Girl arrives in theaters, along with all of its secrets and answers, on October 3.
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Maybe it’s the massive box office success of Transformers: Age of Extinction, but it seems like when studios look at Mark Wahlberg now, all they see is money. Universal even has a specific amount in mind: six million dollars. According to The Tracking Board, the studio is looking at Wahlberg to front a reboot of the 1970s television show The Six Million Dollar Man. Different versions of the project have been in the works for years now, with everyone from Jim Carrey and Todd Phillips to Leonardo DiCaprio and Bryan Singer attached at some point. However, now that Peter Berg is now on board to produce and possibly direct the film, it seems as if Universal is finally coming close to building their perfect reboot.
Though Wahlberg has starred in numerous summer blockbusters and action films, he’s yet to front a franchise of his own (coming in at the fourth installment of Transformers doesn't really count), and The Six Million Dollar Man would be the perfect vehicle for him. Despite being a reboot of a well-known property, it’s unlike most of the other franchises currently in theaters, which allows him to stand out from all of the other robot-punching and punching robot films in theaters. Thus far, Wahlberg has had a rather diverse career, moving easily between big-budget action films, smaller indies and serious Oscar contenders, so if he were going to attach himself to multiple films at once, he’d probably want something different than what he’s already done and what everyone else is currently doing.
Wahlberg’s most recent collaboration with Berg, Lone Survivor, offered him a similar chance to blend action and spectacle with a more serious, dramatic story, which bodes well for the potential of The Six Million Dollar Man. Granted, Berg’s record with blockbusters is somewhat spotty – in addition to the excellent Lone Survior, he’s also made the disastrous Battleship – but since his best projects tend to be the ones with significant weight to them, having an actor like Wahlberg, who has made his mark on both drama and action films on board should help point things in a more positive direction.
But Wahlberg isn’t just a great choice for Austin because of his ability to handle the heavier moments; he’s also carved out a niche in Hollywood as the tough guy next door, a normal, hardworking fella who just so happens to be able to beat people up. Before he was rebuilt into a bionic hero, Austin was a regular joe, a pilot and military man who just happened to have superhuman abilities. Wahlberg’s persona makes him an ideal fit for the role, especially since the character stays relatively down-to-earth even after he becomes a hero. And since his performance in Transformers has proven that he's able to give even the flattest roles some of his trademark charm, he should have no problem making Austin a likable, entertaining hero in addition to an admirable one.
Of course, all of this is dependent on Wahlberg being able to find time in his busy schedule in order to sign on to The Six Million Dollar Man in the first place. He's already got six films lined up for release in the next two years, including Ted 2 and The Gambler, and with Transformers dominating the box office, he's likely fielding offers for all kinds of franchises right now. Still, The Six Million Dollar Man does seem poised to offer him a bit more than the other blockbusters, reboots and robot movies set to take over theaters, and it seems like Wahlberg might be exactly what this particular franchise needs to get off the ground.
Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection
Summer blockbuster season is officially upon us, and you can't have a summer blockbuster without a proper action hero. After all, someone needs to stare into the distance with grim determination, crack jokes in the middle of a tense fight, run in slow motion away from an explosion, and make audiences everywhere swoon over the silhouette of their perfect profile in the sunset. 2014 has its own crop of actors competing for our affections and wallets, all of them hoping to be the next big movie star. But which one is truly the most heroic? Who stands triumphant over his fallen comrades as the best action hero of the year?
The Ones We've Seen:
Mark Wahlberg, Transformers: Age of Extinction Who He’s Playing: Cade Yaeger, a struggling inventor who stumbles across and injure Optimus Prime and restores him to health. Strengths: No matter what he’s in, Wahlberg gives off an intimidating vibe – he seems like the kind of guy who would punch a giant robot in the face without thinking twice about it – but he’s also able to give whichever tough guy he’s playing this time some charm. Wahlberg isn’t afraid of anything, especially not the rules of logic that state a born and bred Texan shouldn’t speak like he grew up in Boston. Weaknesses: It’s a Transformers film, so ultimately, character is less important than robots punching each other. Wahlberg doesn’t get a lot to work with here, but he doesn’t seem to put in enough work to make Cade anything other than a generic tough guy. He could be giving this same performance in basically any action movie.
Tom Cruise, Edge of Tomorrow Who He’s Playing: Major William Cage, a solider in the United Defense Forces who goes back in time to one day in particular every time he dies. Strengths: Everyone knows that Cruise can perform impressive stunts or drive alien spaceships with ease, but Edge of Tomorrow brought back a side of the actor that we haven’t seen in a while, something that was dearly missed in many of his recent blockbusters. We are, of course, talking about his ability to play a complete jackass better than almost anyone in Hollywood. As Cage, Cruise was sarcastic, rude, obnoxious and more charming than he’s been in years, and it felt like a proper return to his former action hero glory. Weaknesses: Once he stops being so obnoxious, we like him less, and the movie suffers for it. Plus, all of the charm in the world isn’t able to distract us from how awkward Cruise looks in the battle skeleton, which seems uncomfortable and unwieldy.
James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, X-Men: Days of Future Past Who They’re Playing: Professor X and Magneto, of course. Strengths: One of the things that make the X-Men movies so great is the chemistry between Professor X and Magneto, and McAvoy and Fassbender have it in spades. Every time these two are onscreen together it’s exciting, which makes them one of the best action hero teams around. They also bring a sense of gravitas and depth to their characters, rather than just letting the stunts and effects carry the film, which makes their characters and relationship even more compelling, and the X-Men films as a whole more enjoyable. McAvoy’s drunk, depressed Charles is a tour de force performance that you’re unlikely to see in most summer blockbusters. Weaknesses: As interesting as they are together, their performances can easily get lost in the complicated plot and cast of thousands. Sure, McAvoy and Fassbender are brilliant together, but when you left the theater, the only person you were still talking about was Quicksilver.
Chris Evans, Captain America: The Winter Soldier Who He’s Playing: Captain America, duh. Strengths: A lot of the time, people seem to think that Cap is a dull, by-the-book, overly-serious character who’s focused on nothing but rules and easily confused by technology. But Evans gives him dimension, charm and the kind of biting wit that is normally associated with Tony Stark. He easily carries the film with his performance, which is by turns sympathetic, intense, and incredibly hilarious, and he managed to make the most impressive, complicated stunts look simple and graceful. Plus, he has the best profile of anyone on this list, and everyone knows an action hero is nothing without a strong jawline. Weaknesses: As charismatic as Evans is, Cap often gets overlooked in favor of the more dramatic or hilarious characters, like the Winter Soldier or Falcon, since they’re a bit flashier.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Godzilla Who He’s Playing: Ford Brody, a US soldier specializing in EODs. Strengths: Like Wahlberg, Taylor-Johnson looks like an action hero. He’s got the steely gaze, the clenched jaw and the trademark action hero biceps, all of which help him come across as a tough, capable soldier. He’s best in the quieter moments when Ford is reuniting with his family or connecting with his father or comforting a lost child on the train, which gives him a bit more depth and charm than the average hero. Weaknesses: Unfortunately, that’s the only thing that Ford Brody has going for him. He’s rather generic, staring out at monsters with a blank face and getting little to do other than running from disaster to disaster. If only Godzilla had realized that Ken Watanabe was the real protagonist of the film; maybe then Ford wouldn’t seem so bland.
The Ones We Haven’t:
Chris Pratt, Guardians of the Galaxy Who He’s Playing: Peter Quill a.k.a. Star Lord, a pilot and thief who teams up with a band of misfits in order to protect the galaxy. Strengths: As anyone who has ever seen a single episode of Parks and Recreation can attest, Pratt basically radiates charm. He’s funny, he’s warm, he’s likable and if the trailer is any indication, he can kick some serious butt as well. A goofy action comedy is the perfect vehicle for Pratt, and the combination of his comedic chops and his natural gift with stunts (he does every single one of Andy Dwyer’s pratfalls himself) should be enough to turn him into a proper movie star. Weaknesses: Pratt might be just a touch too goofy to be taken seriously as an action hero. Sure, he’s tall and buff, but he seems more likely to hug your than punch you, which might make it difficult for audiences to see him as a tough, intimidating superhero.
Andy Serkis, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Who He’s Playing: Caesar, the Simian ruler of the new nation of Apes that has taken over the planet. Strengths: We might have to wait until July 11 to see Serkis in action, but we did manage to get a good impression of the character in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Serkis is wonderful at communicating Caesar’s thoughts and ideas even without words, which gives him the advantage of not having to deal with the typical cheesy action movie dialogue, and his performance is intense and intimidating. Weaknesses: It might be a challenge for universal audiences to connect with an ape the same way that they would a human, but Serkis proved in Rise that he can instill Caesar with plenty of empathy. Now able to speak, we imagine he'll top even himself.
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Hercules Who He’s Playing: Hercules. Who else would The Rock play? Strengths: Despite his intimidating size, Johnson is an incredibly goofy, charismatic guy, and he’s generally very good a bringing that to the characters he plays. An ideal Hercules would blend the action and heroics with enough charm to make us care about him and root for him, and if there’s one thing that Johnson is good at, it’s winning over an audience. Weaknesses: Hercules has to follow the dismal Legend of Hercules and Pompeii, so Johnson is under a lot of pressure to create a charming, likable, interesting character in order to avoid being lumped in with the rest of them. That’s a big challenge for his first proper action hero role, and the trailer seems to give off a dismal, serious vibe, so he’ll have a lot working against him.
Scarlett Johansson, Lucy Who She’s Playing: Lucy, a woman with the ability to access and control her brain’s full potential, which gives her the ability to control the world around her. Strengths: With experience as both a leading lady and a superhero, Johansson should have no trouble blending both to create an exciting, original character. As Lucy, she gives off a strong, independent vibe that’s at once intimidating and compelling. And we already know that Johansson’s able to inject a healthy dose of charm into whoever she’s playing, so it seems like Lucy might just beat the boys at their own game. Weaknesses: She’s got a complex, convoluted plot to contend with, which means she’ll need to spend a lot of time rattling off exposition. That takes away from the time the audience spends getting to know the character, and if Johansson doesn’t make it interesting enough, it could keep them from connecting with Lucy.
Alan Ritchson, Noel Fisher, Jeremy Howard, and Pete Plozek, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Who They’re Playing: Ritchson is Raphael, Fisher is Michelangelo, Howard is Donatello and Plozek will be playing Leonardo, although his voice will be dubbed over by Johnny Knoxville. Strengths: They’re all practically unknown, which means that audiences don’t quite know what to expect from them – a fact which the Turtles themselves would no doubt use to their advantage. The most recognizable of the bunch is Fisher, whose role as Mickey Milkovich on Shameless has proven that he’s a talented actor who brings a lot of depth and layers to his characters. He turned one of the show’s bullies into one of its heroes, which bodes well for his ability to connect with an audience. Weaknesses: The Turtles themselves are CGI, and since the trailer promises weird, slightly freaky-looking creatures, it’s going to be a challenge for them to give a compelling performance through all of the effects. Since they themselves will be unrecognizable, it’s going to be harder for them to win over the audience and get them to root for these characters.
20th Century Fox Film via Everett Collection
In the wake of The Fault in Our Stars' ride to the top of the box office on a wave of tears, there's been a great deal of debate about YA novels and their film adaptations. While the genre has many defenders, both young and old, some critics believe that anyone out of their teen years should abandon YA novels in favor of more mature, intellectually stimulating, and therefore more rewarding books. Still, as anyone who went to see the hit tearjerker can attest, moviegoers of all ages turned out for The Fault in Our Stars, since everyone, no matter how young or how old, loves a good cry. Just like everyone who enjoys a fun, exciting action movie went to see the first two installments of The Hunger Games, which broke box office records. And both adults and children filled out theaters to watch Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort fight a corrupt government in Divergent.
The films seems to be enjoyed by a wide, varied audience, so why should the books that they're based on be restricted to only middle schoolers? They're just as dark, just as complex, and just as entertaining, if not more so, than their big screen counterparts. Yes, these books and films are being targeted at a younger audience, but that doesn't mean that you have to be a certain age to find meaning and depth in these stories. Luckily, the trend of YA franchise adaptations doesn't appear to be slowing down any time soon, with four major blockbusters due out before the rest of the year. That's not to mention the countless novels that have either been optioned by studios or are currently in the middle of casting and filming. All of these stories have plenty to keep an all-ages audience entertained, so we broke down the biggest YA releases of the year in order to make a case for why you should take a chance on them, both at the box office and at the book store.
The Fault in Our Stars What It’s About: When cancer-stricken Hazel Grace Lancaster is forced by her mother to attend a support group for other survivors, she meets the charming Augustus Waters, and after bodning over their favorite book and their illness, the two embark on a slightly twisted teenage love story. Who’s In It: Shailene Woodley as Hazel, Ansel Elgort as Gus, Nat Wolff as Isaac, Laura Dern as Hazel’s mom and Willam Dafoe as Peter Van Houten. Why It’s Worth Reading (at Any Age): Though sometimes the pretension of the main characters can rub people the wrong way, it’s a genuinely touching love story that feels realistic, rather than simply being a series of rom com clichés. Hazel and Gus’ relationship really is all about the small moments, and they’ll win you over and warm your heart… before they shatter it into a million pieces. Our Thoughts on the Film: Since The Fault in Our Stars did so well at the box office, we’re hoping it can help usher in a new generation of realistic, down-to-earth teen movies. Don’t get us wrong, we love a good fantasy adventure or dystopian future as much as the next person, but normal teenagers, without powers and without an oppressive government to overthrow can be just as moving and compelling.
The Giver Opens: August 15 What It’s About: Jonas lives in a futuristic utopian society that makes everyone equal through “Sameness,” which also eradicates emotions and color from their lives. However, when he starts his job as the Receiver of Memories, he gets a glimpse at the way the world used to be – messy, emotional, colorful, tragic and hopeful – and starts to question the world that he has always called home. Unfortunately, questioning is the one thing the government doesn’t want people to do. Who’s In It: Brenton Thwaites as Jonas, Jeff Bridges as The Giver, Meryl Streep as Chief Elder, and Taylor Swift as Rosemary. Why It’s Worth Reading (at Any Age): It encourages people to question their surroundings, to search for more, to not be content with accepting the status quo just because that’s the way things are, which is an important message not just for children, but for adults as well. The Giver also argues that even though life can be difficult and heartbreaking, we wouldn’t truly be living without experiencing those things. Plus, the ending still gets people of all ages riled up more than a decade later, which means it must be worth checking out. Our Hopes/Worries for the Movie: We’re pretty wary about this one, from what we’ve seen in the trailers. It looks like they’ve finally caught onto the fact that the lack of color is important to fans, but we’re still worried that the film has had some unnecessary action added to it in order to make it fit in better with the current slew of dystopian teen movies. Still, it has Streep and Bridges in the cast, so it’s got be good, right?
If I Stay Opens: August 22 What It’s About: After a car accident puts her in a coma, Mia has an out-of-body experience where she can hear and see everything that’s going on around her. After learning about the death of her family, she must decide whether to go with them, or stay in a world full of tragedy. Who’s In It: Chloe Grace Moretz as Mia and Jamie Blackley as Adam. Why It’s Worth Reading (at Any Age): Everyone loves a good, cathartic cry, and this is just the book to cause one. But it’s also a story about the choices we make and how they affect our lives, as well as one about persevering through heartache and loss. Our Hopes/Fears for the Movie: The trailer seems to focus more on Mia’s romance with Adam than on her love for music and her relationship with the family, both of which are just as crucial to the story. While their relationship is a major part of what makes If I Stay so great, we don’t want it to dwarf all of the other great aspects of Mia’s story.
20th Century Fox Film
The Maze Runner Opens: September 19What It’s About: Thomas wakes up in a place called The Glade with no memory of anything other than his name. As he tries to recall his past life, he learns about the society of boys that has been established there, and about the Maze that might be their only hope of escape. Nobody has ever survived a night in the Maze, but Thomas thinks that nighttime might be their only opportunity out, as more and more kids start dying. And then, one day, a girl arrives at The Glade, claiming to know Thomas… Who’s In It: Dylan O’Brien as Thomas, Kaya Scodelario as Theresa, Will Poulter as Gally and Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Newt. Why It’s Worth Reading (At Any Age): If you’re looking for a fun, exciting adventure with a slowly unravelling mystery at its center, The Maze Runner is the book for you. It’s a quick read, but an enjoyable one, and all of the characters at The Glade are funny, frustrating and compelling. Our Hopes/Fears For the Movie: The film will succeed or fail on its version of the Maze and the Grievers that inhabit it, as both are such a key part of the story. They’ll need to be genuinely terrifying in order for the story to have any weight, but the Grievers are a tricky creature to adapt. However, we’re looking forward to a different take on the dystopian genre, and The Maze Runner should make for a fun fall popcorn movie.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 Opens: November 21 What It’s About: After defeating the Quarter Quell, Katniss Everdeen becomes the eluctant face of the revolution to overthrow the Capitol and free the citizens of Panem. Who’s In It: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Donald Sutherland and Julianne Moore. Why It’s Worth Reading (at Any Age): Though it’s the least popular installment in the Hunger Games trilogy, it still has everything you loved from the first books: action, excitmement, high emotional stakes, a strong heroine, and compelling, flawed characters. Our Hopes/Fears for the Film: Mostly, we’re just concerned with how and where the film will be split in two, as choosing that point of separation is always difficult. We’re also hoping that a third (and fourth) record-breaking opening will finally convince studios to make more female-fronted action films. Clearly, there’s an audience for them.
Insurgent Opens: March 20, 2015 What It’s About: Tris and Four must continue to fight against a powerful alliance that will tear the city apart, and could lead most of the population to their deaths. Who’s In It: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ansel Elgort, Kate Winslet, and Octavia Spencer. Why It’s Worth Reading (at Any Age): Because you read or watched the first installment in the Divergent series and you’re dying to know what happens next. Our Hopes/ Fears for the Film: Look, Hollywood, it’s a second successful female-led blockbuster franchise. Is that enough to help change your mind?
Summer at the movie theater generally means one thing: big-budget popcorn films packed with explosions, robots, superheroes, aliens, or a combination of all four. But even though we're currently in the middle of blockbuster season, that doesn't mean that action movies or outrageous comedies are your only option for summer entertainment. This also happens to be the best season for indie movies, and low-key, high-brow alternatives to the obnoxious, annoying and/or unintelligent blockbusters are flooding into theaters everywhere. So, when you're tired of being dragged along to yet another movie where superheroes punch each other or people (unrealistically) run away from explosions in slow motion, or you're forced to endure another onslaught of unfunny, overly-crude humor, why not take spend the afternoon with one of these indies (opening on or around the same dates) instead?
Instead of Tammy, Try Life Itself (Opens July 4) Melissa McCarthy makes her screenwriting debut in Tammy, a film about a woman searching for a new lease on life on a road trip with her alcoholic, diabetic, inappropriate grandmother, Pearl (Susan Sarandon). But if you’re looking for a quieter – if no less cinematic – celebration of life, try Life Itself, the documentary about the life and career of the legendary film critic Roger Ebert. It’s an uplifting, fascinating look at a man who made film criticism accessible to the public and became the definitive voice of entertainment and cinema, even when he could no longer speak. Although it probably won’t have as many pratfalls as Tammy is likely to have…
Instead of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Try Boyhood (Opens July 11) In many ways, Caesar, the simian overlord from Planet of the Apes and Mason, the titular boy at the heart of Boyhood, are on a similar journey. Both are discovering their full potential, both are dealing with a growing sense of responsibility and pressure from the people around them and both are experiencing the joys and pains of growing up. It just so happens that Caesar’s growing pains have to do with the new monkey-led nation he’s establishing and Mason’s are the result of the ups and downs of the normal teenager experience.
Instead of Sex Tape, Try Mood Indigo (Opens July 18) At the box office, summer love is generally interpreted as a raunchy comedy, and this year’s offering is Sex Tape. However, there is a sweeter, more romantic alternative hitting theaters the same day: Mood Indigo. Directed by Michel Gondry, it’s a surreal love story about two newlyweds (Audrey Tatou and Romain Duris), whose relationship is tested when it’s discovered that a flower is growing in her lungs. A little offbeat, very dreamy, and wonderfully heartwarming, it’s a sweet summer treat. Plus, it has just enough special effects to satisfy any lingering desire for big-budget spectacle.
Instead of Lucy, Try Happy Christmas (Opens July 25) Summer movie season isn’t known for having a notable amount of female-fronted films, but 2014 has several lined up. The big-budget option is Lucy, which stars Scarlett Johansson as the only person in the world who is able to unlock and control the full potential of her brain’s capacity, but if you’re not in the mood for shooting, explosions and special effects, you can instead check out Happy Christmas, which opens the same day. Anna Kendrick stars as an irresponsible young woman who moves in with her brother (Joe Swanberg), his wife (Melanie Lynskey) and their infant son without any warning, and her slow, rocky journey towards adulthood.
Instead of Guardians of the Galaxy, Try The Trip to Italy (Opens August 15) Equal parts comedy and action, Guardians of the Galaxy is about a band of misfits who come together to save the universe. The Trip to Italy has a bit less action and a lot more impressions, but it too centers on a pair of misfits (Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon), who are on mission to travel around Italy, review restaurants and annoy the crap out of each other. Watching these two trade jokes and attempt to one-up each other is quite possibly the most pleasant way to spend a summer afternoon.
Instead of Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Try Love Is Strange (Opens August 22) Six years after the first Sin City hit theaters comes A Dame to Kill For, which sees Josh Brolin’s Dwight hunted down by the woman he loves (Eva Green), and brings back several of Frank Miller’s classic characters – well, the ones that weren’t brutally killed anyway. But if you’re in the mood for a more low-key love story, try Love Is Strange, a film about a middle-aged gay couple forced to live with friends after one of them loses his job at a Catholic school. Part love story, part family dramedy, part fish-out-of-water tale, it’s a funny, original take on the marriage plot, anchored by excellent performances from John Lithgow and Alfred Molina.
Instead of The Expendables 3, Try The Congress (Opens August 29) If you’re a fan of actors in a career renaissance and action films, but you’re looking for something a bit more inventive than Stallone and Co. blowing things up, The Congress might be the film for you. The sci-fi film centers on a fictionalized, down-on-her-luck version of Robin Wright agrees to allow a studio to digitize her likeness for a future Hollywood. However, the studio will have complete control over her image for the rest of time, and Wright has no say in what or who they turn her into. Just as exciting, but much more stimulating and creative, The Congress is a perfect alternative to your standard action fare.