I know one reaction I’ve had to the (allegedly) North Korean hackers and their attack on Sony and their movie ‘The Interview’ is “Why now?” Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are not the first American filmmakers to make fun of North Korea, or even its real-life leaders. ‘Team America: World Police,’ for example, featured a marionette-version of late North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il, who wants to destroy Western Civilization (but is also very lonely); the 2012 ‘Red Dawn’ remake actually changed its Asian invaders from Chinese to North Koreans in post-production because at the time that seemed like the more politically and financially safe choice. That’s not going to happen again anytime soon.
Having gone on an unexpected journey and endured the desolation of Smaug, Peter Jackson’s bloated adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ finally comes to ‘The Battle of the Five Armies,’ which is less of a climax to this trilogy than a distended epilogue. After spending two movies and 330 minutes building up the dragon Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) as the ultimate antagonist, he’s eliminated from the story completely in the first ten minutes. He’s literally gone before the title appears onscreen.
This is a weird instance of art imitating life imitating art. Universal Studios Orlando’s famous old ‘Earthquake’ ride was recently updated and replaced with a similar attraction called ‘Disaster!’ where guests get to experience movie special effects, and become extras in the “ultimate” disaster movie called ‘Mutha Nature,’ which stars none other than Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Next summer, Johnson will be seen in ‘San Andreas,’ which is basically ‘Mutha Nature’ brought to life.
This is a fun little video curio to brighten your Monday. Tucked away in a random corner of YouTube for the last five years has been a clip titled ‘Paramount Today ... Where the Future Goes On.’ The description says it’s presumably something that was made by the studio “for Hollywood insiders [and] investors,” and it details the company’s upcoming slate for 1985 and the rest of the decade. And it’s a very entertaining, behind-the-scenes look at the movie hype machine some 30 years ago.
Every year, Little White Lies Editor-at-Large David Ehrlich celebrates the best movies with a video countdown supercut. The newly released 2014 edition is typically excellent, and covers Ehrlich’s picks for the top 25 films of the calendar year (even if I might quibble with some of his individual choices coughsomethinginmythroatnotreallyIjustdon’tlike‘Godzilla’cough).
James Cameron doesn’t lack for confidence. And why should he? This is the guy who made the biggest movie in the history of the universe, and then he topped himself and made the biggest movie in the history of the universe a second time. If there is anything in the world of movies James Cameron can’t do, he hasn’t found it yet.
A sequel to Ben Stiller’s ‘Zoolander’ has been a long time coming. The original movie, which followed the hilariously dumb misadventures of a male model named Derek Zoolander (Stiller), opened in the fall of 2001. 13 years later, work is finally starting to ramp up on the follow-up. Actor and writer Justin Theroux will direct ‘Zoolander 2’ (which should be called ‘2lander,’ for obvious reasons), and Stiller will reprise his role as Zoolander, along with Owen Wilson as his model buddy Hansel and Will Ferrell as the world’s most evil fashion designer Mugatu. Deadline says that the returning cast now has its first new addition in the form of the lovely Penelope Cruz.
'White House Down' has the disadvantage of being the second 'Die Hard'-in-the-White-House movie of 2013 after 'Olympus Has Fallen,' and the advantage of being superior to its predecessor in every conceivable way. It's better directed, better written, and better acted. The action is better, with more impressive special effects; the production design is better, with a much more convincing replica of the White House; the camerawork is better; with clear, lucid images. Where 'Olympus Has Fallen' was grim and stern, 'White House Down' actually embraces the silliness of its premise. It's more exciting and more faithful to the 'Die Hard' formula. This is still basically a shameless ripoff popcorn movie, but it's a shameless ripoff popcorn movie popped to near-perfection.
This is the way the world ends; not with a whimper but with an extended improv session featuring Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, James Franco, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride and a fleet of other popular young comics. On an ordinary night in Los Angeles, the straight-up-biblical apocalypse begins. After the Rapture, our six heroes board themselves up in Franco's Hollywood mansion and wait for a rescue. It never comes. Supplies dwindle. Tensions mount. 'This Is the End.'
The term "product placement" feels insufficient to describe the role of Google in 'The Internship.' This is not so much product placement in a movie as movie placement in a product. For two hours, viewers are treated to a series of bright, high-energy sales pitches for the San Francisco search engine and its vast array of products and services -- Google Play, Google Drive, Google Helpline, Google Maps and, of course, plain-old Googley Google -- plus, occasional attempts at comedy from Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson while they stand in front of giant Google logos. Shameless? Absolutely. But that wouldn't be such a problem if 'The Internship' wasn't so mirthless, as well.
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