Author

Julia Emmanuele
  • The Worst Pop Culture Moments in 2014 (So Far)
    By: Julia Emmanuele Jul 02, 2014
    FOX As the summer reaches its peak and the Fourth of July swiftly approaches, it's time to look back on the six months of 2014 that have passed in order to evaluate where we stand in terms of pop culture. But while most lists and articles choose to only focus on the best, most exciting, and most memorable moments that have occured in television and movies so far this year, we feel this retrospective wouldn't be complete without a look back on all of the worst that Hollywood has offered us in 2014. From unfunny, offensive premieres to movies that are held together by crude jokes and slow-motion sword fights to the once great shows that have seen a dramatic decline in quality, there's plenty to repress about the year in entertainment. Allow us to refresh your memory...  Dads Nobody had high expectations for Dads. It was a live-action Seth MacFarlane comedy about two immature best friends whose fathers move back in with them. It was probably never going to be a great sitcom. And yet, nobody expected just how terrible Dads actually turned out to be, an unfunny combinations of racism, misogyny and the way it turned two great character actors (Martin Mull and Peter Reigert) into walking fart jokes. Thankfully, Fox decided to put everyone out of their misery by cancelling the show in May, even though everyone blocked it from their minds well before that.  The Other Woman The Other Woman had everything it needed to be a success: two talented, likeable comedias in Leslie Mann and Cameron Diaz, a well-worn dramatic trope at the center of its plot, an attractive leading men, Nicki Minaj, and an early summer release date that ensured it wasn’t competing with any major blockbusters. Unfortunately, it also had a terrible, unfunny, insultingly stupid script that managed to somehow tell a story about women who bond over their cheating significant other in the most misogynistic fashion imaginable. Truly, The Other Woman did the impossible. Sherlock, Season 3 For a while, it seemed as if the BBC’s modern adaptation of the classic Sherlock Holmes stories could do no wrong. They were smart, well-written, well-acted, and well-directed; more like mini-movies than a television series. But then the third season premiered, and instead of the sharply crafted mystery we had come to expect, we got a pandering, oddly-paced, awkwardly-written show that shunted the cases to the side in favor of plotholes and fangirl fodder. The fact that we had to wait three years for Sherlock to make such a disappointing return only compounded all of our issues into a giant letdown of a season. Super Fun Night After her breakout roles in Pitch Perfect and Bridesmaids, America wanted nothing more than to spend more time with Rebel Wilson. Unfortunately, they changed their minds once her TV show, Super Fun Night, premiered. Everything that they loved about Wilson – the accent, the confidence, the charm, the wit, the jokes, the sweetness – was gone, and in its place was an painfully awkward, unfunny show with a painfully awkward, unlikable protagonist with an American accent. Luckily, Pitch Perfect 2 is set to hit theaters soon, at which point everyone will forget that Super Fun Night ever happened, and our perfect image of Wilson as the ideal best friend will be restored. That Awkward Moment Like The Other Woman, That Awkward Moment is a marvel. It’s a film that takes another familiar premise (in this case, friends making a pact to stay out of relationships, only to fall in love) and three of the most charming, talented and good looking young actors in Hollywood (Zac Efron, Miles Teller, and Michael B. Jordan) and squanders its potential on bad voice overs and boner jokes. Also, Efron’s character might have been a sociopath. Regardless, That Awkward Moment felt like less of a disappointment than an insult to intelligent audiences everywhere. Netflix House of Cards, Season 2 If we were to ask you what the worst thing about the first season of House of Cards was, chances are you’d say the convoluted policy talk, Francis petty feuds, or or the unrealistic way he managed to get away with everything. Unfortunately, showrunner Beau Willimon disagreed with the rest of us, and made those three elements the focus of the entire second season. He must have assumed that we’d be too distracted by Kevin Spacey chewing the scenery to mind the boring, long-winded and convoluted discussions of foreign policy, the comic idiocy of President Walker, the far-fetched plots designed to conveniently dispose of characters who asked questions, and the fact that Francis had turned from a manipulative power player into a full-blown cartoon villain. We wouldn’t be surprised if next season, he wore a top hat and a monocle and twirled his mustache during his asides to the camera. The Legend of Hercules If you were in the Twilight films and your name isn’t Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, or Anna Kendrick, your biggest career challenge is overcoming the stigma of being a supporting player in the most devisive movie series of all time. So we don’t blame Kellan Lutz for branching out into leading man territory with The Legend of Hercules. How was he to know that the film would be stupid, nonsensical and only tangentially related to its source material? Or that it would be a cheap-looking, boring, plodding mess that lacked any sense of fun? Really, he was just trying to be something other than Emmett Cullen for a change. A Million Ways to Die in the West Seth MacFarlane has not had a great year so far. First, critics reacted to Dads as if someone had dumped a pile of hot garbage on their freshly mowed lawn, and then he made A Million Ways to Die in the West, a comedy that basically shot Blazing Saddles in the face. Terribly unfunny, over-reliant on references and repeated jokes and a waste of a stellar cast, the worst thing about the film was the fact that it completely lacked MacFarlane’s voice, which, while not for everyone, at least has a distinctive comedic perspective. At least there’s always Ted 2, right? I Wanna Marry Harry Sometimes, a network isn’t just content to put crap on television to fill airtime during the summer. Sometimes, they want to provoke a reaction – any reaction – and so they come up with a show that crushes your soul, and destroys any lingering hope you might have had in not only the future of television, but also society as a whole. In 2014, that show was I Wanna Marry Harry, a festering sore disguised as a reality TV competition in which girls are tricked into competing for the affections of a potato with legs. And that’s the nicest way I could possibly describe that show. The Cancelation of Enlisted What hurts the most about losing Enlisted, Fox’s funny, original and criminally underrated show isn’t the fact that the network made it impossible for the show to gain a following and then used its lack of ratings as an excuse for cancelation. It’s not that we lost a wonderful, well-written show that could be both hysterically funny and incredibly moving. It wasn’t even that the world never got a chance to appreciate the talents of the wonderful ensemble, all of whom created hilarious, realistic, delightful characters. No, what hurts the most about the decision to cancel Enlisted is that it was announced in the same week that I Wanna Marry Harry  premiered. Never has a metaphorical slap in the face felt so painful. Follow @hollywood_com // Follow @julesemm //
  • This Summer's Indie Films for the Blockbuster Lover
    By: Julia Emmanuele Jul 02, 2014
    Weinstein Company 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 alternatives to your favorite summer blockbusters are flooding into theaters everywhere. So, when you get tired of watching people run from explosions in slow motion and you can no longer tell one superhero from the next, why not take a break from the multiplex and give one of these indies a try instead.  If You Liked Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Try Snowpiercer (Opens June 27) The sequel to 2011’s Captain America saw Chris Evans lead a band of rebels who took down an oppressive regime that infiltrated a major government agency in order to save the world and protect American citizens. Snowpiercer sees Chris Evans lead a band of rebels as they attempt to take out and oppressive bureaucrat in order to establish better living conditions for the people living aboard the train. One of them has Tilda Swinton and one has Anthony Mackie, but both are worth watching. If You Liked The Fault In Our Stars, Try What if (Opens August 1) Now that you’ve recovered from watching two people fall tragically in love, why not follow it up with a funnier take on romance? Starring Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan, What if tackles the immortal question of whether or not people can be just friends if they have romantic feelings for one another. It’s a smart, creative take on the traditional rom com, and it won’t leave you a shell of your former self at the end. If You Like Tammy, Try They Came Together (Opens June 27) Comic powerhouses Melissa McCarthy and Amy Poehler both happen to be starring in major movies this summer. Co-written by and starring McCarthy, Tammy is a road trip movie that follows the titular character’s misadventures with her alcoholic, diabetic grandmother, Pearl (Susan Sarandon). Poehler’s role as Molly in David Wain’s rom com parody is a bit more low-key, but promises to be just as funny and irreverent.  A24 If You Liked 22 Jump Street, Try Life After Beth (Opens August 15)   At its heart, 22 Jump Street is a film about a couple attempting to hold their relationship together despite their different personalities and the obstacles that arise because of them. It just so happens that Life After Beth tells a similar story, except instead of being undercover cops whose partnership is tested by college, the big hurdle that Beth and Zach need to overcome is the fact that Beth is, well… a zombie. If You Like Get On Up, Try Frank (Opens August 15) Chadwick Boseman stars as the hardest working man in show business in Get On Up, which charts the life and career of James Brown, culminating in his comeback in the 1990s. But if you’re looking for a slightly more unconventional take on the music “biopic,” we recommend Frank, which stars Michael Fassbender as an eccentric, brilliant musician who wears a giant fake head at all times and Domhnall Gleeson as the newest recruit to Frank’s band. Although something tells us their music won’t be as easy to dance to… If You Like Sex Tape, Try Two Night Stand (Opens August 22) Summer isn’t just filled with alien-fighting robots and superheroes protecting the galaxy; it’s also the time of year when the world celebrates the raunchy sex comedy. First up is Sex Tape, which follows a couple who film themselves in the act in an attempt to spice up their marriage, only to accidentally send it to all of their friends. Two Night Stand also centers on a regrettable decision – sleeping with a drunk stranger you met at a bar – that spirals out of control due to unforeseen circumstances. In this case, it’s a blizzard that traps the unhappy couple in an apartment together. If You Liked X-Men: Days of Future Past, Try I Origins (Opens July 18) If you prefer the X-Men to all of the other superheroes on the block, you’re likely someone who appreciates a slightly complicated storyline, discussions of science and genetics and misfits coming together to form a family – which means that I Origins, a sci-fi romance about a molecular biologist who studies the human eye and his journey for truth and his lost love. Follow @hollywood_com // Follow @julesemm //
  • I Can't Write About 'Community' Anymore
    By: Julia Emmanuele Jul 01, 2014
    NBC Pop pop! Six seasons and a movie, that long-awaited goal that has grown from a funny quip to a full-blown rallying cry for Community fans, are finally within our reach. The cult comedy has been resurrected for a 13-episode sixth season by Yahoo Screen, with most of the cast and creator Dan Harmon back on board for the new installments (via NYTimes). Though NBC’s cancelation took fans by surprise when it was announced in May, the Greendale Human Beings' fervor for the show inspired the site to take a chance on a weird, well-loved sitcom. The news has made us all happier than that time Abed – actually, you know what? I can’t do this anymore. I just can’t write about Community anymore. Over the past three years, we have been inundated with news about the show, from its permanent home on the cancelation bubble to the abrupt departure of its creator and show runner to the abrupt rehiring of its creator and show runner to the loss of two key cast members to its eventual cancelation and now, finally, its renewal. And that doesn’t even take into consideration all of the rearranged premiere dates, arguments over when – if ever – the show started to go downhill, and the meta implications of everything Abed says. Community’s run on television has been a tumultuous one, and it’s required thousands of words to cover and keep up to date with and dissect everything new that is announced about the show. Frankly, I just don’t know what is left to say at this point.   It’s not that I’m not excited about getting to spend another semester at Greendale. I am. Sure, I’m somewhat apprehensive as to what form the revived Community will take now that it’s being made for a brand new format and a significant chunk of the cast has gone. But more than anything, I’m just relieved, because Yahoo’s decision to renew Community has provided some kind of stability on the roller coaster ride that has been its tenure on NBC. That stability is a good thing, not just for the fans who were terrified to face a future without the Greendale Seven, but also for the writers who cover the show. We no longer have to provide up-to-the-minute updates about the show’s likelihood for renewal, we no longer have to be on constant alert in cast Harmon actually does make a Community movie in his basement, and I get a few months off before I’m forced to come up with an appropriate quote or reference to end a post with. The darkest timeline has truly come to an end. Okay, I guess I had one more left in me. Follow @hollywood_com // Follow @julesemm //
  • 'The Skeleton Twins' Reminds Us Of the Best of Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader
    By: Julia Emmanuele Jun 30, 2014
    Friends who star on Saturday Night Live together go on to star in almost every movie they make together. At least, that appears to be Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader's philosophy, and the two are carrying on the tradition with their latest film The Skeleton Twins. The first trailer for the Sundance darling showcases a slightly different side of the pair, however, as they play twins who reconnect after they coincidentally each cheat death on the exact same day. Their second chance at life inspires both of them to re-evaluate their lives and mend their relationships with one another. Between the eight years they spent together on SNL, the 10 movies they've both starred in, and the countess talk show and award show appearances they've made together, Wiig and Hader have created many wonderful, weird, and goofy characters. In celebration of their chemistry, here's a look back at all of the hilarious pairings that Wiig and Hader have entertained us with over the years...  Roadside Attractions Devin and Karina, The Californians Despite being one of SNL's most divisive recurring sketches, The Californians was a cast favorite, which explains why it was performed so many times. Still, the pointless soap opera about rich people giving directions would be nothing without Hader's Devin, whose close relationship with Wiig's Karina caused a great deal of tension with her husband, Stuart (Fred Armisen).   Brady Trunk and Anastasia Hicks, Hollywood Dish As the world's worst entertainment news hosts, Wiig and Hader had the perfect opportunity to showcase both their most obnoxious, arrogant voices and their silliest faces during some extremely uncomfortable interviews with various celebrities that culminated in a series of dramatic spit takes.   Lyle Round and Mindy Elise Grayson, Secret Word Nine times out of ten, if SNL was doing a game show sketch, Hader played the host. Still, his most famous host was Lyle Round, an obnoxious, sleazy '50s television personality who always laughed at his own jokes and alternated between flirting with and yelling at Wiig's Mindy Elise Grayson, who has never been able to understand the one rule of the show. It's Wiig and Hader at their most over-enunciated, which is generally when they're at their finest.    Bobby and Paulette, Adventureland As the permanently exasperated couple that runs the titular theme park, Hader and Wiig got the chance to introduce audiences to their relaxed, hilarious chemistry and the oddball characters that we'd come to love them for, along with the real reason why nobody ever wins a giant panda while playing arcade games. They just don't have that many left.  Phone Sex Callers, Her In perhaps their strangest co-starring role (and considering the kind of weirdos these two normally play, that's saying something), Hader and Wiig each provided voices for people in a chat room that Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) enters at the beginning of the film to connect with another person. Though Hader plays a man pretending to be a woman, his cameo is brief (and if you didn't know to listen for him, it would probably pass you by completely). Wiig's performance as SexyKitten, on the other hand, is much more memorable, primarily because she asked Theodore to... well, "choke [her] with the dead cat" in the throes of passion. You'll never be able to watch Bridesmaids the same way again.    Follow @hollywood_com // Follow @julesemm //
  • A Complete Ranking of Shia LaBeouf's Most Bizarre Antics
    By: Julia Emmanuele Jun 27, 2014
    Getty Images At the beginning of the year, it seemed like you couldn't go a single day without hearing about whichever insane thing Shia LaBeouf had gotten up to in the name of "art." After coming under fire for plagiarizing his short film, the former Even Stevens star embarked on a whirlwind press tour of oddity, until both LaBeouf and the general public grew tired of his antics, so he took a break from being outrageous for a living and we all stopped paying attention to him... until Thursday night, when he was escorted out of a performance of Cabaret in handcuffs at intermission. According to BroadwayWorld, LaBeouf was disruptive and distracting during the entire first act of the Broadway show, which frustrated both the cast and the audience. He was also rumored to have been smoking inside the theater, which is designed to look like run down nightclub in Germany. When security asked him to leave at intermission, LaBeouf refused, and the police were called to escort him out of Studio 54 in handcuffs. The news confirmed by cast member Danny Burstein, who posted about the incident on his Facebook page, and composer Benj Pasek, who tweeted about it. And because one bizarre altercation wasn't enough for LaBeouf, footage surfaced early Friday morning of the actor chasing a man through Times Square, hours before the show began. Guess now we know why he was in such a terrible mood at the theater. Since this is truly just the latest in a long line of weird, dumb, completely crazy and attention-getting stunt that LaBeouf has pulled over the course of his career, we decided to see where it would fall in the great tableau of his insanity.  23. Feb 2008: Given a ticket for unlawful smoking in Burbank; issued an arrest warrant for not showing up in court a month later, but the warrant was rescinded when his lawyer showed up a day later. 22. December 2013: Revealed to have plagiarized two of his comic books. 21. August 2011: Brags in Details magazine about hooking up with Isabel Lucas and Megan Fox while they were both in relationships 2o. Jan 2014: Skywrites #stopcreating after he feels attacked by Daniel Clowes and the media for plagiarizing 19. Jan 2014: Hit with a cease-and-desist letter from Daniel Clowes and his lawyers after tweeting about his “new project” and copying the description of one of Clowes’ novels word for word. 18. Nov 2012: Starts a bar fight in London after someone steals his hat. 17. Feb 2013: Drops out of the Broadway production of Orphans, citing “creative differences” with Alec Baldwin; Baldwin maintains he was fired due to difficult behavior. 16. June 2012: Appears nude in music video for Sigur Ros’ "Fjögur Píanó."  15. Nov 2007: Arrested for misdemeanor trespassing after refusing to leave a Walgreens when a security guard asked him to. 14. Feb 2013: Publishes an apology email he wrote Alec Baldwin on Twitter which he plagiarized from a 2009 Esquire essay. 13. Dec 2013: Revealed to have plagiarized significant parts of his short film, HowardContour.com from the graphic novelist Daniel Clowes; tweets an apology that itself was plagiarized. 12. Dec 2013: Begins overtly plagiarizing all of his tweets from other celebrities. 11.  Jan 2013: Takes acid in preparation for his role in Charlie Countryman, films his trip and sends the video to co-star Evan Rachel Wood for critique. 10. Jan 2014: Skywrites an apology to Daniel Clowes… nowhere near where the novelist would be able to see it. 9. Jan 2014: Retires from all public life on Twitter; continues to tweet. 8. Feb 2014: Arrives at Berlin Film Festival press conference in ratty, dirty street clothes, recites Eric Cantona’s infamous “seagulls” speech, then abruptly leaves. 7. Feb 2014: Attends the Nymphomaniac premiere with a paper bag over his head that reads “I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE.” 6. June 2014: Is escorted out of a Broadway performance of Cabaret in handcuffs after “acting disorderly, yelling and being loud” during the first act and reportedly smoking in the theater. 5. June 2014: Caught on video chasing a man through Times Square. Some onlookers claimed he wanted the man’s McDonald’s French fries, while TMZ claims that the man was actually holding a tan cap, rather than a fast food bag. 4. Feb 2005: Arrested and charged with assault after threatening his neighbor by driving into his car; allegedly showed up on neighbor’s doorstep later that night brandishing a kitchen knife. 3. Oct 2013: Attempts to film two girls vomiting on a sidewalk in London, gets punched in the face and kicked in the junk. 2. Jan 2013: Dropped acid on the set of Charlie Countryman in front of the cast and crew to get into character, despite the fact that the character actually takes ecstasy. Gets naked, runs around, hallucinates an owl and traumatizes Rupert Grint. 1. Feb 2014: Holds an art exhibition – titled #IAMSORRY – in which people select a random object and sit in a room with him, while he endures whatever they do to him; he always cries at the end, even though everyone thinks they’re the only person he cried for. The exhibition is criticized for ripping off performance artists Marina Abromovic and for being insane. Only Jaden Smith gets it.  Follow @hollywood_com // Follow @julesemm //
  • Scoot McNairy Is the Best Thing to Happen to the DC Universe
    By: Julia Emmanuele Jun 26, 2014
    Weinstein Company via Everett Collection In what might be the first bit of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice casting news that won’t send fans into a tailspin, DC and Warner Bros. are reportedly adding Scoot McNairy to the cast of the upcoming blockbuster. However, though Deadline revealed the news, the character that McNairy will be playing is being kept securely under wraps, along with whether or not his role is a Zack Snyder original or if he’s someone comic book fans are already familiar with. Since he’s joined the cast this late into production, it seems unlikely that McNairy’s character will play a large role in Dawn of Justice, but we have to imagine (considering his cult acclaim) it will be one of thematic sigificance. All of this leads us to believe that even though McNairy might not have a lot of screen time in this film, he’s most likely going to play a larger role in one of the other films that the studio has lined up. In other words, his Batman V Superman cameo might be the inception of McNairy's role as a member of the Justice League. Since DC has the Justice League film slated for release immediately afterwards, it would be a good way to introduce fans to McNairy without throwing him immediately into a major superhero role. Many fans seem to be speculating that he will bring The Flash to the big screen, which is most likely due to his appearance and previous roles, as well as to the fact that DC hasn’t revealed whether they plan to recast Ryan Reynolds as the Green Lantern... but of course they won't. Casting McNairy as The Flash – or any major superhero, for that matter – would be a change of pace for Warner Bros' DC series, a company that has thus far stuck to actors who are already household names for this film, between Ben Affleck, Jesse Eisenberg, and Jeremy Irons. Even Gal Gadot and Henry Cavill, who were unknowns when they were chosen to help fill out the Justice League, are blockbuster stalwarts (Gadot broke through to the mainstream in the Fast and Furious movies, while Cavill had roles in everything from Immortals to Red Riding Hood). McNairy, by contrast, is a character actor, one who is well-respected amongst critics and cinephiles, but not particularly well-known by the average moviegoer. McNairy brings something of an edge to a cast that is already packed with A-List actors and respected talents. Affleck might have more awards, by McNairy is far more "hip"; he’s still an underground celebrity, which appeals to a different kind of audience than his co-stars might. It’s an avant-garde choice for DC, a step away from the standard big-name approach that they’ve been taking recently to turn an acclaimed indie actor into a major superhero. In fact, it seems much more like the kind of casting decision that Marvel would make. This is their equivalent of casting Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man or Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk. Or just about anybody in Guardians of the Galaxy. If McNairy does join the cast, it would be the closest that DC has gotten to following in Marvel’s footsteps. It doesn’t matter how quickly you can churn out blockbusters, or how much money they make, or even how heavily intertwined your universe is if you don’t have the right actors on board to inhabit the heroes. Sometimes, that means casting the best actor you can find instead of the most famous or the best looking one. McNairy would be a step in the right direction for DC in terms of building a solid cinematic universe, and depending on how fans respond to his character, it could be the model that the studio should follow when casting other roles. McNairy would give them a talented, well-liked actor with plenty of indie cred who could probably play any role they asked him to, and it would definitely benefit DC to have someone like that on their roster. And it would benefit the rest of the world to finally see McNairy become a household name, rather than just “that guy who was in that thing.” Follow @hollywood_com // Follow @julesemm //
  • Charting the Critical Decline Of the 'Transformers' Franchise
    By: Julia Emmanuele Jun 26, 2014
    Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection Every two or so years, when the sun is at its hottest and summer blockbuster season is reaching its peak, a long shadow is cast over the movie theaters of the world, bringing with it dread, despair, and a week-long migraine. It is time for another Transformers movie. The latest one, which arrives in theaters on Friday whether we like it or not, does away with the established story of Shia LaBeouf, his trusty car and the gorgeous girlfriend who isn’t given much to do, and instead places the fate of the world in the toned arms of Mark Wahlberg. There aren’t many people who are expecting Transformers: Age of Extinction to be a great film. In fact, most fans and critics are expecting the film to be torn to shreds by the press, many of whom had the pleasure of doing the exact same thing to its predecessors. Though most of the world now regards Michael Bay as the architect of the downfall of modern cinema, it’s worth remembering that there was a time when he wasn’t the most reviled filmmaker in America. But if you follow the reviews for the first three Transformers films, you can almost pinpoint the exact point of no return. Transformers It might be difficult to remember – three very long, very loud movies later – but the first installment in the Transformers series was actually relatively well-received. By that, of course, we mean that it received mixed reviews rather than outright scathing ones. Still, there were plenty of critics who were never a fan of the franchise, and made their disdain for Bay’s most famous works clear from the beginning. Some were upset over what had become of such a beloved part of their childhood: “Transformers is a terrible film. It’s not even bad in a campy, funny way that is enjoyable in the right mindset. It’s bad in a horrible way that makes you wish you’d spent your evening doing something other than ruining your childhood memories.” - Sean Gandert, Paste Magazine Many found it difficult to follow the film, which was somehow simultaneously overly-complicated and full of holes: “The story has something to do with Autobots and Decepticons battling to be the first to get to what amounts to a giant battery pack (a "cube of infinite power," someone calls it, I think) that's been held for decades by the U.S. military in — oh, never mind.” – Bob Mondello, NPR Or, they just had trouble looking past one glaring fault: “Even by Michael Bay standards, this movie is vapid.” – James Berardinelli, Reelview Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Because audiences failed to heed these early warnings, the first film made enough money to warrant a sequel, two years later. A sequel which took all of the worst parts of the first Transformers film, made them louder, more obnoxious and four times as long, pumped them full of steroids and then strung them out to create a full movie. A sequel which will one day be remembered if not for its quality, than for the exuberance that critics showed in tearing it to shreds. First, they ripped apart the script: “Describing the plot of Revenge of the Fallen pretty much equates to making “boom, crash, kablooey” noises, but I’ll attempt to distill all the boring, non-explodey elements into this bite-sized paragraph.” – Simon Miraudo, Quick Flix  “Much of this film was put together during the Writer's Strike, and I'm guessing Michael Bay never once worried about it.” – Drew McWeeney, HitFix Then, they tackled the exhausting experience that was sitting through Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen: “It’s like standing in the middle of a dust storm and opening your eyes to let the grit pour in.” – Josh Tyler, CinemaBlend “Trying to take in this movie is akin to shaking up a snowglobe and paying attention to glitter shard No. 432,581: When two similarly-colored CG robots are simultaneously morphing and punching each other in the head, it’s impossible to figure out where one ends and the other begins, resulting in a visual cacophony that goes hand-in-hand with the bowels-rattling bassline and the shrieking, incoherent dialogue.” – Alsonso Duralde, MSNBC Some put the blame squarely on Bay’s shoulders: “Sweet Jesus! Does Michael Bay not know how to make a movie?” – Michael Edwards, What Culture But nobody summed up the contempt that critics held for this movie quite like the legendary Roger Ebert, who was primarily concerned with helping moviegoers save their money: “If you want to save yourself the ticket price, go into the kitchen, cue up a male choir singing the music of hell, and get a kid to start banging pots and pans together. Then close your eyes and use your imagination.” Transformers: Dark of the Moon Just when we thought that we were free, that there was no way for Bay to come back from the torrent of abuse that was levelled at him as a result of Transformers 2, along came Dark of the Moon, because this is Hollywood, and it doesn’t matter how terrible a film is as long as it makes boatloads of money. On the whole, though, critics seemed to like the third movie a lot better, and focused on the positives: “With his third, and by all accounts final, try director Michael Bay has made what is probably his best Transformers film yet. Which means that it is merely mind-numbingly bad rather than eye-gougingly bad.” – Joshua Starnes, ComingSoon “There is more of a plot this time. It is a plot that cannot be described in terms of structure, more in terms of duration. When it stops, it's over.” – Roger Ebert, RogerEbert.com  “It's better than 2009's horrendous Transformers 2, but almost anything is.” – Claudia Puig, USA Today “At least McDreamy gets sucker punched. Simple pleasures.” – Kieth Uhlich, Time Out NY But there were still some who couldn’t look past the marginal improvements that Bay and his team made in the third installment, and instead remained focused on all of its loud, headache-inducing faults: “Transformers: Dark of the Moon, a work of ineffable soullessness and persistent moral idiocy, concludes with Chicago taking it in the shorts for 50-odd minutes, at the hands of the Decepticons in an alien takeover scored, partially, to an emo-ballad mourning the "cataclysm" of it all.” – Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune “Transformers 3 is one of the stupidest movies I've seen since Transformers 2.” – Scott Weinberg, Twitch And then there was one critic who managed to sum up the way that critics and moviegoers everywhere feel about Bay, his movies, and the Transformers franchise as a whole, in one pithy sentence. Never has something so scathing, so true, and so unbearably funny been said so succinctly. “I am no expert in theology, but I'm pretty sure evil looks a lot like Transformers 3 – Will Leitch, Yahoo Movies Well, on the bright side for Transformers: Age of Exctinction, it truly can only go up from here. Follow @hollywood_com // Follow @julesemm //
  • 'Star Wars: Episode VII' Rumor Superlatives
    By: Julia Emmanuele Jun 25, 2014
    20th Century Fox Film These days, it seems like every day brings with it a new influx of rumors about Star Wars: Episode VII. From the initial casting reports to the latest cameo rumors to the never-ending, constantly conflicting plot "leaks," every time you turn around there's something else to cover. Even Marvel and DC are struggling to keep up with the barrage of press releases and insider information. With so much to cover, it can be hard to keep track of what seems real (the villains are probably Jedi Hunters, they might resurrect the Sith), what's completely insane (Harrison Ford will be replaced ) and what's already been debunked (most of it). In fact, there might only be one way to keep everything organized and comprehensible: give all of the rumors awards. And that's exactly what we did.  Least Creative: Production Delays on Production Delays on Production Delays At the rate that we’re seeing rumors about production delays, everything on set must shut down whenever someone sneezes. The most recent are centered on Harrison Ford’s broken leg, with multiple outlets claiming that the whole film has been shut down until he returns to set, which either overestimates how much screen time Ford will have or underestimates the importance of sticking to the December 2015 release date. The Harrison Ford Heritage Award for Replacing Harrison Ford: Robert Pattinson It all started when the Internet had a breakdown over the possibility of Pattinson playing Indiana Jones in a reboot of the franchise. Then, when Ford got injured, it was rumored that Pattinson would take over the role of Han Solo so that production wouldn’t have to be – you guessed it – delayed. This one was quickly debunked though, as nobody with eyes would every believe Pattinson and Ford to be the exact same person. Most Disappointing Debunking: Oscar Isaac’s Role Will Be Expanded Pattinson wasn’t the only person to get swept up in the frenzy surrounding Ford’s injury; Isaac’s character was rumored to have been expanded in order to fill story time to avoid – all together now! – more production delays. Unfortunately, Disney quickly refuted this one, showing us great possibilities before cruelly yanking them away. Most Morally Ambiguous: Adam Driver: Hero or Villain?  Because so many details are still under wraps, we don’t know anything about the characters that the new cast will be playing, which makes it easy for conflicting reports to cast the same person in different roles. When Driver first came on board, it was to play a villainous role, but by the time the rest of the cast was added, he was rumored to be playing the son of Han and Leia. Now, he’s back on the dark side, playing one of the Jedi Hunters terrorizing the heroes. At this point, it’s probably best to just imagine him as a double agent. Biggest Potential Style Inspiration: Lupita Nyong’o, Villainess Perhaps no actress in recent memory has become a style and beauty icon as quickly as Nyong’o. She can pull anything off, and does so in a way that almost convinces you that you can wear the same thing. So when reports surfaced that she was playing a villain with yellow eyes, the world’s immediate reaction was basically “Hey, do you think I’d look good with yellow eyes?” You probably won’t. She definitely will. Most Highbrow: David Cronenberg Approached to Direct Spinoff The Star Wars rumor mill doesn’t just affect Episode VII, but has come to encapsulate the spinoffs as well. Though the first two have been handed off to their respective directors, Cronenberg was reportedly approached to put his own spin on the Star Wars universe, an offer he almost immediately declined. Maybe all those Pattinson rumors inspired Disney to reach out to him? Most Absurd: Tom Cruise Will Be Making a Cameo If you’re Tom Cruise and you meet up with Mission Impossible III director/producer JJ Abrams, the only logical reason is to plan a cameo in Episode VII. Your meeting couldn’t possibly be about the Mission Impossible franchise, or the numerous films you have lined up, or even just a chance to catch up on each other’s lives. Nope, you’re definitely going to be in Star Wars. Most Surprisingly Awesome: Tom Cruise Will Be Making a Cameo Did you see Edge of Tomorrow? Slightly dickish, alien-fighting Tom Cruise is the best Tom Cruise of all. Obi-Wan’s ‘These Are Not the Droids You’re Looking For’ Award For Deception: The Millennium Falcon Of all the rumors on this list, none was stuck down faster than that of the reappearance of the Millennium Falcon, which was spotted in leaked photos from the set. In response, Abrams leaked a photo of his own, denying that the Millennium Falcon had ever graced the set... from what appeared to be the inside of the Millennium Falcon itself. Still, once they saw it, the press simply nodded and allowed him to go about his business. Least Likely To Have Been Double-Checked On IMDB: David Oyelowo Will Play a Villain Buried in the reports that Nyong’o and Driver are going to play villains was a brief mention about the third Jedi Hunter, supposedly played by David Oyelowo. There’s only one problem: Oyelowo was never cast in Episode VII, nor was he ever rumored to be part of the cast. Clearly someone needed to do a quick Internet search before writing up the latest rumor/report/hearsay from the Episode VII set. Most Likely To Be Used As Punishment: Jar Jar Binks Is Back Every so often, when Star Wars fans start complaining too much or the press gets a little too invasive, one name appears, like an omen of despair: Jar Jar Binks. Do we actually think that he’ll pop up in the film? Probably not, but we do enjoy watching fans react to his name in much the same way the wizarding world did whenever Harry Potter said “Voldemort.” Rumor Mill MVP: Boba Fett Try and find a single plot, casting, set design, or spinoff rumor that doesn't mention Boba Fett in any way. You probably can't do it. He's practically become the new main character of the Star Wars franchise. When the inevitable remakes come along, you better believe they're going to be all about Boba Fett.  Follow @hollywood_com // Follow @julesemm //
  • Los Angeles Film Festival Review Roundup: 'They Came Together,' 'Dear White People' and More
    By: Julia Emmanuele Jun 25, 2014
    Lionsgate It might not be as glamorous as Cannes or as cool as Sundance, but the Los Angeles Film Festival has just as much to offer as its larger counterparts. Between high-profile premieres of blockbuster films, international competition entries and some of the most exciting indies around all premiering at LAFF every year, there's plenty to pay attention to. But if you were unfortunate enough to let the this year's fest — which ran from June 11 to 19 — we've got you covered with a rundown of the most talked-about films to premiere at LAFF, and what the critics are saying about them. Now you can make all of your friends think you're cooler than you actually are. They Came Together The Amy Poehler/Paul Rudd romantic comedy you’ve been waiting for is less about the relationship between the central couple, Joel (Rudd) and Molly (Poehler), and more about skewering every last trope of the genre. Written and directed by Wet Hot American Summer’s David Wain, the film lovingly parodies the traits, characters, conversations, and comically large apartments that appear in every rom com ever made, while allowing two funny, good looking people to fall in love in an entertaining way.   “The script’s on-the-nose descriptions of each character (as described by the characters themselves) actually works to frame them as self-aware people forced to play out roles we have seen before and allows the hilarious cast to play within those lines. Poehler and Rudd have a natural chemistry that makes them believable as the two leads in love, but their comedy also blends well making it clear they are having fun with each other and the characters they are playing.” – Allison Loring, Film School Rejects "Wain leads his well-known cast through spoofs of such classics as When Harry Met Sally, Annie Hall, The Graduate and the sharp-elbowed comedies of Tracy and Hepburn. Each gag makes you wish you were watching the original, although a clench between Joel and his grandmother (Lynn Cohen) that almost leads to incestuous coupling deserves credit for sheer audacity. Most of the time, however, the actors on the screen seem to be having much more fun than the audience will." - David D'Arcy, Screen Daily Cut Bank A small town crime drama set in Cut Bank, Montana that centers on a former high school football star (Liam Hemsworth) desperate to find a way out of his town. After he accidentally films the murder of the town mailman, he is offered a reward that would give him enough money to leave for good, but things aren't a simple as they seem, and he finds himself caught in a tangled web of deception and danger. "...Shakman lets the scenes unfurl with a clunky pace and little verve, simply exaggerating the irony and naivety in the town as his main go-to points. It only makes sense that [John] Malkovich’s sheriff has never fired his gun and carries an aversion to violence; likewise with Palmer, who itches non-stop after a Miss Cut Bank pageant title even while she wants nothing more than to skip town. Thankfully humor seeps in through the edges of the film and its characters, sometimes on purpose and other times not." - Charlie Schmidlin, The Playlist Lionsgate Dear White People A satire of college movies that tackles race relations and privilege in society, Dear White People follows four students as an Ivy League university — golden boy Troy (Brandon P. Bell), activist radio host Samantha (Tessa Thompson), Colendra "Coco" Conners (Teyona Parris), who has dreams of being a reality TV star, and shy misfit Lionel Higgins (Tyler James Williams) — after a planned "African American"-themed party thrown by a group of white students starts a riot on campus.   "If it ultimately feels modestly edgy rather than shocking or dangerous, 'Dear White People' nonetheless provokes admiration for having bothered to ask some of the hard questions without pretending to know any of the answers. It also works as a fine showcase for its actors: Fleshing out characters that could have been little more than one-note mouthpieces, Williams, Thompson, Parris and Bell all make strong, distinctive impressions, with Thompson perhaps the standout as the film’s sharpest and most enigmatic figure." - Justin Chang, Variety The Last Time You Had Fun With a cast full of comedians and sitcom alums, The Last Time You Had Fun puts a grown-up twist on the standard "wild night out" comedy. After Ida (Eliza Coupe) forces her sister Alison (Mary Elizabeth Ellis) to blow off some steam with her, they find themselves bickering and partying with Clark (Kyle Bornheimer) and the sweatpants-clad Will (Demetri Martin), as the four of them attempt to have the most fun that four older, dysfunctional adults could possibly have. "Granted, the excesses of Bridesmaids or The Hangover are not essential to sparkling relationship comedy, but Fun lacks an edge, or even much of an attitude. Blandly risqué situations, featherweight banter and a hint of implied sexual impropriety have all the heft of an extended cable sitcom episode. Or maybe it’s the casting, which draws extensively on the TV comedy background of the four leads, who all acquit themselves adequately but can’t achieve sufficient character differentiation within the ensemble. Undistinguished locations, flat lighting and primarily static setups perpetuate the small-screen aesthetic, which at least bodes well for the film’s transition to home entertainment formats." - Justin Lowe, The Hollywood Reporter Echo Park The debut film from photographer Amanda Marsalis, Echo Park is a story about two people who come together "across cultural, economic and racial boundaries." Sophie (Mamie Gummer) is an unhappy housewife who moves from her Beverly Hills home to the up-and-coming neighborhood of Echo Park in order to shake up her predictable boring life, who finds herself drawn to Alex (Tony Okungbowa) after she buys his couch. But their burgeoning relationship might have to be put on hold, since he's about to leave for London... "It’s Marsalis’ direction, and the fine performances from Gummer and Okungbowa that elevate the film above what it might have been, given the issues with the script and story that hover around the edges of cliché and stereotype (the worst offender: Sophie’s mother). While the dialogue, especially the scenes between Sophie and Alex, works well, the story beats are oddly laid out, rushing through some important character and relationship establishing moments, and dwelling too long in moments where the characters are making frustrating, selfish choices. Still, the end of the film avoids falling into the traditional romantic film trap, leading to a message that’s a bit more complicated and nuanced than expected." - Katie Walsh, IndieWire Follow @hollywood_com Follow @julesemm
  • President Snow Promises 'Panem Forever' In Creepy First Teaser For 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1'
    By: Julia Emmanuele Jun 25, 2014
        Wars, especially revolutions, aren’t just concerned about gaining control of the battlefield. It’s also vitally important to win control over the hearts and minds of the people you’re fighting for – or in the case of the Capitol, fighting over – so that they will rally behind your cause. And while Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawerence) might have the survival skills and manpower, it seems that President Snow (Donald Sutherland) has something much more valuable: an expensive, terrifying propaganda campaign. The first teaser for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 shows the lengths that Snow is willing to go to in order to keep the people of Panem under his control. Don’t be fooled by the pristine white color scheme; these are some dirty tricks. Buried underneath talk of peace and elegance, and an elaborate metaphor for Panem in which the districts represent the vital organs that make up the overarching body, Snow slips in some menacing threats. “If you resist the system, and starve yourself… it is you who will bleed.” YouTube/The Hunger Games But it’s not until the very end that Snow plays his trump card and reveals Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), looking just as put together as the president, standing behind him seemingly in a show of solidarity. Having Peeta on President Snow’s side will no doubt encourage ordinary citizens to stick close to the government and make it a lot harder for Katniss and the other rebels to win their trust. Although – and it might just be us - but something seems a little off about Peeta. He's not the type to shy away from cameras or the opportunity to charm the audience, so why does he suddenly seem so stiff and reserved? Is there something President Snow isn't revealing, or has Peeta genuinely switched sides?  Now that we know the depths that the Capitol is willing to stoop to in order to keep Panem under control, the ball is officially in Katniss’ court. What tricks does she have up her sleeve in order to keep the Districts from buying into Snow’s threatening promise of “Panem Forever?” The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 arrives in theaters on November 21. Follow @hollywood_com Follow @julesemm