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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The 25 Best Superhero Movies of All Time: 25-11

25. Spider-Man (2002)
dir. Sam Raimi

In a way, it was Raimi who started the superhero explosion we're seeing today, or at least serves as the most direct forebear. Bryan Singer's X-Men may have came out two years earlier, but as superhero films have moved further and further away from Singer's dour vision, Raimi's odes to the four-color extravaganzas the comics came from are a clear early sign of where Marvel movies would eventually move. Some of Raimi's campier touches don't work terribly well; the Green Goblin suit was goofy at the time and it's goofy now. But some, like the brief stint in the wrestling ring ripped straight from the comics - and another era - are immensely charming, and Raimi's dedication to quiet, personal drama where it was needed is something that modern superhero films could stand to remember. Raimi's trilogy would eventually peter out due to executive interference, but the first entry is still a lively delight.

24. X-Men: First Class (2011)
dir. Matthew Vaughn

After the dreadful X-Men: The Last Stand and even worse X-Men Origins: Wolverine, it was clear the X-Men movie franchise needed a big change if it wanted to survive. Enter First Class, with an exciting new cast, stylish 60s time period, and a fresh look at the early lives of Professor Xavier and Magneto. Although Kevin Bacon makes a fun enough villain as Sebastian Shaw, it's the Nazi-hunting Magneto played masterfully by Michael Fassbender that steals the show.

23. Robocop (1987)
dir. Paul Verhoeven

When we put forth the call for voters, we were pretty clear: There weren't really any rules as to what could be called a superhero film unless things got pretty out of hand. So imagine my surprise when we got ballot after ballot for Robocop, Paul Verhoeven's 1987 dystopian masterpiece. It fits the trend, though, as an early forerunner for a certain kind of superhero film: The tragic origin that gives him his powers but pits him against the very people responsible for his creation is an iconic superhero trope, and Verhoeven delights in the 80s ultraviolence that wouldn't have been out of place in the Frank Miller-influenced comics scene at the time. Speaking of Miller -- he wrote a Robocop comic, and came back to script Robocop 2. Robocop remains one of the 80s bleakest, most iconic action films and a staple of the excellent, odd career of Paul Verhoeven; I suspect the only reason it isn't higher on the list is because it didn't occur to many to put it on there.

22. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 (2017)
dir. James Gunn

There's a raging debate occurring among Guardians fans as to which film is better between the sequel and its predecessor. Either way, there's no arguing that this second-go at James Gunn's ragtag group of interstellar misfits isn't a unique spin on the Marvel movie formula. Essentially a big budget bottle-episode, the ensemble cast is given a good deal more to chew on in terms of character growth and depth, and the revelations provided by the presence of Starlord's dad, EGO (played with a fun swagger by Kurt Russell), at the very least, makes this an vital epilogue to the original journey. Terrific soundtrack too.

21. Watchmen (2009)
dir. Zack Snyder

Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen is arguably the greatest graphic novel of all time–along with The Dark Knight Returns, it is often credited with the maturing of the comics medium. It was also notoriously called, “unfilmable” by Terry Gilliam, a director who was perhaps uniquely suited for it’s neon action. Zack Snyder, hot off the surprise success of his first comic adaptation 300, certainly made a valiant attempt and in many ways succeeded. While it changes a few key things from the comic, it captures the look and feel with impressive accuracy, and a few of the casting choices are inspired. If you’re a fan of the graphic novel, it’s hard not to get swept up in this big screen adaptation.

20. Dredd (2012)
dir. Pete Travis

Start with a screenplay by one of modern sci-fi's best screenwriters, Alex Garland, then add an excellent cast consisting of the ubiquitous Karl Urban in the lead and Lena Headey playing opposite, and you've got a pretty exciting thing to look at. Dredd's thrilling visual style, thumping score, and genuine love for the 2000 A.D. source material all add on to make this one of the most rewatchable of modern superhero films.

19. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
dir. Joe Johnston

One of the purest distillations of comic book source material brought to screen, Joe Johnston makes a roaring comeback as he reinhabits the throwback vibe that made his earlier The Rocketeer such a joy. Between the sepia tones, the pitch-perfect casting of its central player (if we were ranking superhero castings, Chris Evans might be at the very top, as he just lives in the "aw shucks" demeanor of Steve Rogers), Hugo Weaving doing a great Werner Herzog impression, and maybe the best love story of any of these films. The Cap movies are the best of the Marvel franchises, and this one got them off to an exuberant start in the Simon-Kirby mold.

18. Superman 2 (1980)
dir. Richard Donner & Richard Lester

Kneel before Zod!! One of the more intriguing entries on this list, most especially due its troubled production history. A good portion of Superman II was conceptualized and shot during the creation of its preceding entry, but after Richard Donner had quite a falling out with the the Salkinds, producers of the Superman films, they turned to A Hard Day's Night's Richard Lester to come in and finish the sequel. With an awareness of what occurred behind the scenes, its hard to not spot what was filmed by Donner and Lester respectively (one goes for mythic grandeur, the other tends to lean comic slapstick), but to many who watched this film as it released with virgin eyes, it was the superior Superman adventure - finally portraying in live action the first Superman vs. super-powered villains fight that fans had been craving for decades, and Terence Stamp's portrayal of General Zod is legendary for a reason.

17. Blade (1998)
dir. Stephen Norrington

Superheroes and horror are tough to mix; one is a power fantasy, while the other depends on making you feel powerless. But one of the early successful comic book trilogies, Blade, walked that line well. Blade would help modernize and popularize the action-horror template that would continue in the Underworld and Resident Evil franchises, focusing on an implacably cool hero hunting monsters out to harm humanity. In Blade, that implacably cool hero is played by Wesley Snipes, and his villains are a who's who of excellent character actors: Donal Logue, Sanaa Lathan, and the eternally villainous Stephen Dorff. There have been a lot of movies that have tried to mimic the success of Blade, but few have been successful.

16. Batman Begins (2005)
dir. Christopher Nolan

Batman, at least on the big screen, was pretty much dead. The two previous films by Joel Schumacher effectively destroyed all that Tim Burton had created, and there hadn’t been an attempt since 1997. (Side note: kind of hard to imagine a world now where there isn’t a movie with Batman for 8 years!) After the success of 2000’s Memento Christopher Nolan had tried his hand at the Hollywood thriller in his Insomnia remake, but was interested in reviving the DC Comics hero after the recent success of the X-Men and Spider-Man franchises. Nolan took a different approach to those, however, shying away from the comic book visual style and instead aiming to ground the hero firmly in the real world. Batman Begins is maybe not the best of his trilogy, but it launched a whole new era for Batman and created a visual and narrative style that has been the house style for DC ever since.

15. Deadpool (2016)
dir. Tim Miller

Remember Ryan Reynolds regrettable character in X-Men Origins: Wolverine? Before the release of 2016’s Deadpool, you couldn’t be blamed if you didn’t. Add onto that Reynolds’ equally regrettable turn as Green Lantern in 2011 and you’d expect his days in superhero cinema to be long over. To the shock of many, Deadpool smashed box office records, opening at #1 and making $132 Million in its first weekend, and still sitting as the #2 R-Rated movie of all time. Deadpool relaunched Ryan Reynolds’ career with the role he seemed born to play, and the wise-cracking, fourth-wall-breaking anti-hero paved the way for the R=Rated superhero film and cemented the character as the most common cosplay at every convention.

14. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
dir. Eric Radomski and Bruce Timm

Batman: The Animated Series is still the definitive Batman for a whole generation that grew up watching it on Saturday mornings, and Mask of the Phantasm is the culmination of that show. Taking the wonderful voice cast from the show and adding the talented Dana Delany (the voice of Lois Lane in the Superman animated counterpart), this film aims to reach an older audience with a tragic love story. Pulling in parts of the classic comic Batman: Year One, Phantasm fires on every dramatic cylinder and easily holds its own among the live action Batman films.

13. Batman Returns (1992)
dir. Tim Burton

In some ways, the appeal of Batman Returns can be summed up just by looking at a handful of stills, because this is, for my money, the best-looking Batman movie that exists. Burton's 1989 Batman may have created the template, but with Batman Returns, Burton's villains fit his visual sensibilities far more than the Joker. Danny DeVito remains almost eerily perfect casting as the Penguin, but the real star of the show is Michelle Pfeiffer's instantly-iconic Catwoman, a slinking, prowling villain who fits so flawlessly into Burton's Gotham City that I'm frankly disappointed that the movie isn't just about her. It's hard for a sequel to outdo the original, but when it comes to creating a distinctive aesthetic, Batman Returns is a step above.

12. Iron Man (2008)
dir. Jon Favreau

This is, in many ways, the movie that kicked off the modern superhero trend. Spider-Man and X-Men showed that the demand was there, but it was Iron Man that suggested that you didn't need an A-list hero to make truly blockbuster bank, and the massive success of Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Jr.'s take on the character spawned the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Avengers, and Marvel Studios, a gajillion dollar film empire now trying to plan movies 5-10 years in advance. But Iron Man remains a small, surprisingly slight movie, with few of the massive set-pieces that would come to define Marvel. Mostly, it's a character study for Downey's Tony Stark, a movie that forces him to come to terms with his sin and puts him on an insane path for redemption. Perhaps the most surprising thing about Iron Man is how natural that arc feels.

11. Batman (1989)
dir. Tim Burton

In a way, there are three major eras of comic book films, though only the most recent hasn't petered out rather quickly. Tim Burton launched the second with the release of Batman, a gothic action extravaganza that used Burton's odd aesthetics to immortalize Gotham City for generations of viewers. Batman has aged very well, from its iconic soundtrack by Prince to its visual design that remains influential to this day, and I think it's telling that both Burton's Batman films were so close on the list. In the end, the original won out, but both present a compelling artistic vision of a strange and beautiful Gotham City. Without Batman, there is no Blade, there is no Hellboy, and, I suspect, there is no X-Men.
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Monday, September 18, 2017

Best Covers of the Week, Vol. 196

 Black Hammer #13
by Dean Ormston

This cover really exemplifies this series' love for golden and silver age comics, here cleverly combining the looks of Darkseid and Galactus into one cosmically menacing villain.

 Future Quest Presents #2
by Mac Rey

I absolutely love the look of this cover; it rides a gorgeous line between retro and extremely modern with its sharp lines and smooth shading.

 Gasolina #1
by Niko Walter

A really eye-catching cover from Walter, with excellent color contrast, great design, and an ominous concept!

 Magnus #4
by Jorge Fornes

Really just a totally beautiful design! It's a nice touch that the shattered version at the bottom is of a mirror image of the top, and I love how the rainbow lines of the top half make the muted colors of the character stand out and have depth.

Samurai Jack: Quantum Jack #1
by Alexis Zirritt

Aah! It's pretty exciting to have Zirritt's neon cosmic sensibility applied to one of my favorite characters. This one is pretty out of this world!

That's it for this week. What did I miss? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook!
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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Review: MOTHER! is the Surreal Feminist Environmental Horror Movie We Didn't Know We Needed

"Overwhelming" is often the first word that comes to mind when thinking about our world. From socio-political strife to nuclear war, climate change and natural disasters to the loss of human rights, there is so much to worry and be frustrated about. That is the sentiment that Aronofsky brings to his newest film, and "overwhelming" is perhaps the best way to describe Mother!

Mother! follows (literally, as I'll talk about later) a woman (Jennifer Lawrence) whose life is turned upside down as some surprise visitors show up at her home. Her poet husband (Javier Bardem) is oddly obliging to these strangers (the first of which are played by Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer), and their presence slowly but surely brings destructive violence into the house that she has lovingly rebuilt for her husband. 

I should mention that no characters have proper names; Lawrence plays "mother" and Bardem plays "Him" with a capital "H". As the film progresses, this kind of vagueness plays into the fact that over time the story presents a kind of grand metaphor as it reaches its horrifying depths.

The film is told entirely from the point of view of mother; we're always either in her head, over her shoulder, or on an extreme close up of her face. We see nothing that she doesn't see, which lends the film an eerie intimacy and puts us squarely in her shoes. In many ways, Mother! is about how we treat women, and this extreme perspective limitation exceptionally augments that theme. We feel every little disservice, every offhandedly rude remark, and every sexist look she gets from the other characters in the film. Her husband agrees to let these strangers stay without consulting with her, leaves her alone after a violent altercation, but ultimately expects her to clean up the mess and be his rock through all of it.

The men in the film expect everything of mother, leaving messes and acting in childish manners, then scolding her for overreacting when something gets broken or goes wrong. Her hospitality is pushed to absurd, and eventually surreal, limits, and yet when she fights against it the others accuse her of being rude, or call her a bitch or a cunt. At the same time that he expects the world, her husband also doesn't trust her with anything; there's a careful inclusion of lots of "stay right there" and "I'll be right back," implying that we're going to let the men do the real work. It's a frustrating tug of war that is felt personally and is a real life struggle that leads smoothly into the insanity of the third act, where those problems are writ large on screaming, bloody tableaus.

I don't want to spoil the final act of the film because it is truly and spectacularly surprising. It takes the slightly surreal but mostly grounded story and ramps it up to levels of cosmic absurdity, in a similar way that The Fountain expertly blends fantasy, sci-fi, and reality. While the poster for the film is clearly meant to evoke Rosemary's Baby, I found myself thinking of films like Apocalypse Now and Children of Men throughout the chaotic and emotionally intense climax.

Given that the entire film focuses tightly on the character of mother, it lives and dies by Lawrence's performance. Thankfully, she brings a level of maturity and subtlety that takes advantage of the countless closeups, and her realization of the character draws us in and gave me the same discomfort in my gut that she was no doubt feeling. Bardem, too, gives a less flashy but also commendable performance; the way his character evolves throughout the film feels like a natural progression because his ticks and quirks in the beginning become more pronounced when the stakes are higher.

Mother! is an experimental film, one of its more surprising elements being that it has absolutely no non-diegetic score. Aronofsky often has excellent sound and music in his films (the scores to Requiem to a Dream and The Fountain in particular often find their way into my regular rotation), so what isn't surprising is how he handles the lack of it here. Rather than use music to influence the audience's emotions, the film exaggerates the ambient sounds in mother's world; every drop of mysterious medicine she puts in her water, every piece of broken glass that falls to the floor, every footstep on the floor above is heard with painstaking clarity and often ring out unnaturally like the lobby bell in Barton Fink. Jóhann Jóhannsson was apparently going to write the score, but he and Aronofsky agreed it worked best without music. Jóhannson still gets some kind of sound/music consulting credit, but major props to frequent sound collaborator of Aronofsky's Craig Henighan for the phenomenal sound work on Mother!

Darren Aronofsky's films are often about a struggle between the characters' inner and outer selves as they find ways to deal with addiction, obsession, and loss. Mother! manages to do this on both a grounded, intimate level with the way Lawrence's titular character is treated and on a much grander scale, suggesting that we look at her as a stand in for Mother Earth. Like 2014's Noah, there is certainly an environmental metaphor to be teased out here, with the unwanted house guests standing in for the human race, constantly testing our home and pushing its limits despite mother's constant and frustrated protestations.

Mother! stands as a potent and sharp-edged addition to Aronofsky's complex filmography. It's an experimental film that never bores or becomes too abstract; in fact, its more surreal elements feel like such perfect representations of the unbearable frustrations of its main character that they are as expected in some way as they are surprising. While it was written and produced much more quickly than most of his past films, it's clear that this was a passionate and fiery labor of love, and that depth of feeling and detail make Mother! one of the best films of the year thus far.

Mother! comes to theaters this Friday, September 15th, and stars Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, and Michelle Pfeiffer. It is written and directed by Darren Aronofsky.
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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Review: COLUMBUS Finds Inspiration In Everyday Life

As I was leaving the theater after seeing Kogonada's debut film, Columbus, my friend Stef mentioned that she enjoyed the movie, describing it using a line one of the characters in the film used to talk about the appeal of modernist architecture: "It was asymmetrical, but balanced." It's the kind of comparison that, it could be argued, only makes sense after you've seen the film, which uses modernist architecture as a kind of thematic touchpoint and visual cue; you have to feel the way the movie twists its emotional through lines to really grasp it. But it's also the kind of movie about which one might reasonably walk out saying, "It was asymmetrical, but balanced." Kogonada, a Korean film essayist making his debut feature, has crafted a movie that is intricate and intellectual, a thoughtful look at two damaged souls trying to find some measure of comfort with one another.

In Columbus, Casey (Haley Lu Richardson) is a bright young woman trapped in the small Indiana city of Columbus, a place largely known for its historical importance in the modernist architecture movement. It was this architecture that drew a renowned, aging academic to the town to give a talk about modernism and work on a new book. But when he passes out and is rushed to the hospital, his estranged son, Jin (John Cho), leaves Seoul for Indiana. Jin and Casey strike up an unlikely friendship, each dealing with parental issues and an uncertain future, and the film follows their winding conversations as they try to navigate, and help one another navigate, the purgatories they find themselves in.

Essentially an extended dialogue between Casey and Jin for enormous portions of the film, Richardson and Cho have to carry the film. With Cho (Star Trek Beyond), a seasoned professional and one of Hollywood's most chronically underused leading men, this was almost never in doubt; Cho has an effortless charisma and confidence that makes him magnetic to watch, even as his character is in uncertain emotional waters and slipping into something like desperation. Jin could have easily been an insufferable character, a maudlin mess of a man prone to whining about his responsibilities and making... let's say 'questionable' romantic decisions. But Cho gives him a soulful sadness that is one of the film's most powerful emotional beats; in one particularly gorgeous silent scene, he gets across his uncertainty and aching misery in the few, brief motions of taking a drink and sitting down, his father's silhouette hanging over him in judgment. 

Richardson (The Edge of Seventeen) is more of a newcomer, with only a couple prominent roles under her belt. In some ways, her character is familiar: She's a bright young girl trapped in a small town by family responsibility, forced to watch all her former friends leave as she stays home to take care of her mother. But Richardson plays her with none of the quirks we've come to expect from the type. She's smart but not snarky and hyperverbal and not looking for a coming-of-age fling with an older man; instead, Kogonada has her play up the weight of her responsibility, the heaviness of missed opportunity. She's someone who is ceaselessly interested in the world around her, but who doesn't believe it holds any future for her beyond that idle interest. If Cho plays sad as soulful, Richardson plays it manic, as a desperation to fill herself up as things go wrong.

The film's other stars are Kogonada, who edited the film, and Elisha Christian, the cinematographer. The pace of Columbus occasionally feels glacial, thanks to the abundance of mid-range static shots that so dominate much of the film. But those static shots are often immaculately composed, using the architecture of Columbus, Indiana and the positioning of the characters to powerful emotional effect. Kogonada's editing pulls that positioning together, using it to create an intimacy that isn't really there or holding on the music and background chatter long after we've left the scene where they were present, a sort of social hangover that defies, and then enhances, one of the film's saddest scenes. The choices made by Kogonada and Christian in framing and cutting the film may slow the film, but they also make room for a wordless depth that fits the film's themes well.

In a way, Columbus is a formalist dream sitting at the crossroads of Sofia Coppola's Lost In Translation and Richard Linklater's Before... trilogy, a talky two-hander in which two interesting souls meet briefly, have a series of fascinating conversations, and influence one another in unexpected ways. Kogonada's film is slower than either of those, more interested in the experience of their day-to-day routines... and, perhaps, a little less interested in the emotional gut punches that made those movies so evocative for me. But Kogonada's thematic rigor pays off, finding a depth of feeling in some of the quietest, loneliest moments of Jin and Casey's lives.

It seems weird to call a film that repeatedly has characters state its themes out loud subtle - Rory Culkin's desperately-trying-to-be-a-cool-librarian performance utterly saves the film's clunkiest but most thematically definitive line, "Are we losing interest in everyday life?" - and yet, in the end, that's what I must do. Kogonada, for all his thematic bluntness, never overstates and overexplains his characters, allowing the framing, editing, and performances to say what the dialogue never could. In the film's larger moments, this can be breathtakingly tense. But even in the smaller scenes, like one in which a character makes a dumb, goofy architecture joke and then never explains it to make sure the audience 'gets' it, it leads to a movie you can sink into, if you let yourself, a calmly empathetic exploration of a town and two people that sticks with you long after it's finished.

Columbus debuted at Sundance in early 2017, and is currently in select theaters across the nation. Written and directed by Kogonada, Columbus stars John Cho and Haley Lu Richardson.
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Kyle's Comics Picks - September 13, 2017

Forgive the delay on this week's article, life got a bit busy over the past few days with the hurricane coming through town and a few other distractions. But we're back in business, likely just ahead of your local shops opening.

For what it's worth, my current days have been filled with the self-published wonders of Steve Ditko - the artist responsible for characters like Spider-Man and Doctor Strange, among other notable creations at Marvel and DC. I recently picked up a swath of the work he's been doing since the 90's, comics he's produced in conjunction with publisher Robin Snyder, and given that he's turning 90 this November - it's incredible that he's still producing this volume of product.

I've only had a chance to read a little bit here and there, but these comics are almost uniformly anthologies, as Ditko seems most comfortable in the shorter story arena, dedicating about 5-6 pages to each of his new creations along with returning favorites like Mr. A. It's worth noting his work is very heavily influenced by objectivism and the philosophy of Ayn Rand, you may consider that a feature or a bug depending on your respective viewpoint. He also has a concurrent reprint series that reproduces a nice batch of both his earlier independent work from throughout the 70's-90's as well as public domain stories he pencilled for Charlton Comics in the 50's, even resuming some of their titles for the cover such as: Out of this World and Tales of the Mysterious Traveler.

If you want to get a sense of what he's doing today, check out the following two articles by Joe McCulloch, one detailing a big batch of his *new* comics, and another giving a briefer overview of the reprint model. It's fascinating reading. I may have more to say on the subject in the future after I've actually read more of this stuff.

Onto this week's comics:

Hellboy & the BPRD 1955 - this week's Mignolaverse pick. I enjoyed last month's initial 1955 entry more than I have recent issues in this series, so I'm excited to see what Roberson and Mignola have cooked up this time and if this all leads to Hellboy's year-long bender in Mexico.

Hard Boiled h/c - Ooh! Geof Darrow art with Frank Miller writing. This is one of those must-reads from the days of Miller's initial breaking away from both Marvel and DC. Not sure how it's aged over the years, but it was pretty impactful on Kyle during his formative comics reading years. You can draw a straight line between what Darrow does here and artists like Frank Quitely, Nick Pitarra and Aaron Kuder.

Dark Knights Metal #2 - I think this Metal series of books has been the most fun I've had reading a superhero event comic in a while. This series, despite its exterior appearances in ancillary marketing, is actually a pretty neat love-letter to DC continuity...I mean what else is a series built around the Challengers of the Unknown, Hawkman, Dream of the Endless and major elements of Final Crisis going to be? We'll see where it goes from here as its outreach expands into crossovers, often where these things falter.

Mister Miracle #2 - The follow-up to the talk of the comics blogosphere last month. This issue focusing on the war that's raging between Apokolips and New Genesis, which plays nicely against the more intimate story that King and Gerads are weaving. There's a good chance DC has a real perennial on their hands with this one, the sort of thing neither of the Big Two have produced much of in recent years.

Kill or Be Killed #12 - More Phillips and Brubaker, which basically speaks for itself. This series has really come into its own with its second arc forward. Happy to read more, as I usually am from this creative team.

Spy Seal #2 - The second issue of one of Image's most unique titles, from one of the rare cartoonists they work with regularly. This series is an absolute blast of fun, and while I'm desperate to read it in the Euro format to which is clearly is screaming to be presented on, I'll take what I can get - exciting globe-hopping adventure.

Slasher #4 - Another bit of self-publishing from Charles Forsman whose comics are a wonderful little bridge between the indie world and grittier genre fare. Not for the faint of heart, but every Forsman comic is a must-read.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Everything old is new again: JJ Abrams returns to direct STAR WARS EPISODE IX

Last week saw the news that Colin Trevorrow, basically no one's favorite choice to direct the final entry in the new Star Wars trilogy was stepping down due to creative differences with Lucasfilms and Disney. Vulture then produced a whole piece about it from their inside sources, basically detailing how difficult he was to work with, and the possibility that the studio heads may have very well gotten some cold feet about their initial choice due to the poor reception of his big flop The Book of Henry - or at least may have seen it as a final straw in an already frayed relationship.

Who's to say, really? Regardless, Trevorrow is gone. And fans spent all of last week throwing out ideas as to who might replace him. My initial thought, and the rumors that initial evening seemed to dictate, that Kennedy and company would hang onto Rian Johnson after how smoothly things went with The Last Jedi's production. Other ideas from other corners of the internet: Ava DuVernay, Brad Bird, a veteran hand similar to Ron Howard. But, that night, while we were headed to our screening of IT, my co-editor, Hannah, was certain LucasFilm was going to return to the man who got the franchise kickstarted again in JJ Abrams. It was too easy, and he had nothing on his plate that we could tell.

And by god, she was right, as it's been announced today that Abrams is indeed returning for Episode IX. Abrams will co-write the film with Chris Terrio (co-writer of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League), which is a surprising development in of itself and probably worthy of some discussion.
Kennedy was quoted in the official statement: “With The Force Awakens, J.J. delivered everything we could have possibly hoped for, and I am so excited that he is coming back to close out this trilogy”.

And to be frank, I have to agree regarding The Force Awakens. Star Wars is not exactly a franchise I'm big on, but I do love the original film as a piece of perfectly crafted blockbuster entertainment (and all of its influences it synthesizes) - and The Force Awakens hit a very similar vein for me. Maybe its because its just a souped-up version of the first film and I wanted to wallow in that story structure again, but it clicked for me when I needed it (unlike last year's Rogue One).

So I look forward to seeing how this closes out! Episode IX open in May of 2019.
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A new trailer for THE DISASTER ARTIST is giving us all life

It's been a gross few days with the weather throwing everything into chaos, but there was a little bit of good news over at GeekRex Central and that is that The Disaster Artist, the James Franco-directed take on the creation of the cult classic The Room, was a big hit at TIFF. So big, that some prognosticators are wondering about its Best Picture potential. That bit remains to be seen, but needless to say, this is my most anticipated movie of the end of the year.

And with that, here's a new trailer! Enjoy!

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