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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Comic-Con 2014: Batman v Superman Teaser Trailer Description

The trailer has been released to an enthusiastic response by Hall H attendees.
We expected Warner Bros. to bring some sweet reveals for their 2016 release of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice to Comic-Con, and they certainly did not disappoint. In addition to releasing the first image of Wonder Woman, Director Zack Snyder also presented material from the movie. He was accompanied by cast members Henry Cavill (Superman), Ben Affleck (Batman), and Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman).

This is the summary as told by Screenrant.com:

"The Batman V Superman teaser footage shown at the event began with Affleck’s Caped Crusader standing atop a Gotham rooftop on a rainy night; his eyes then light up solid white, before he removes a tarp and reveals the Batsignal underneath. Following that, the camera track up towards the sky, revealing Cavill’s Superman hovering in the spotlight; he looks extremely angry, as his eyes light up red, preparing to fire his heat vision. Cue the film’s official logo."

As such, we can now confirm that Batman has multiple costumes in the movie, as the armor he was wearing in the Batman V Superman teaser was the full Frank Miller Dark Knight Returns-inspired outfit (read: much heavier-looking and thicker armor than in the image that had been previously released by Snyder)."

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice opens in theaters on May 6th, 2016.

Discuss this story with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.

Comic-Con 2014: Wonder Woman Pic Released!

We've got the story (and the picture) right after the jump!
For awhile now, we've been reporting on the steady stream of news surrounding Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. First came Ben Affleck and the Batmobile, then Superman standing in what looked like a rainy Gotham. But, we hadn't seen Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman, leaving some to wonder whether she could play the part.

Until now.

On his Twitter account, Director Zak Snyder released this image of the Amazonian princess just a few minutes ago:

At first glance, it's hard to tell where Wonder Woman is, except that she's standing on top of wreckage, definitely something made of concrete. Could this Metropolis, Gotham, or a new location? Her uniform is darker - probably for the best - looking more like Xena than Linda Carter.

Either way, we now have the Trinity assembled and we're sure to get more today ad Comic-Con 2014 hits its stride.

What do you think of the new image? Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice arrives in theaters 6th, 2016.

Join the discussion!

Discuss this story with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.

Top Domestic Movies of 2014 - Q2 Report

Who's made the most box dough so far in 2014? Read on to find out!
In April, we reported on the health of the domestic box office, reporting that while revenues had dropped 10%, we were already gifted with two $100m pictures: Ride Along and The LEGO Movie. And while we worried that the overall health of the market had declined - with fewer films being expected to carry heavier loads - we hoped that Q2 would right that ship.

Note: The Spring Season is defined as the first Friday in March through the Thursday before the first Friday in May.

According to our friends at BoxOfficeMojo.com, Quarter 2 of 2014 took in an estimated $1474.1 billion, as compared to 2013's take of $1.4184 billion. That's an improvement of 3.9%, but does that mean we have a healthier overall market? Possibly. Here's a breakdown of the top films as of May 1, 2014 (with reviews included):
1. The LEGO Movie $252,877,964
2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier $229,381,211
3. Divergent $140,486,726
4. Ride Along $134,202,565
5. Mr. Peabody & Sherman $108,145,101
6. 300: Rise of An Empire $105,915,135
7. Rio 2 $98,870,276
8. Noah $98,124,749
9. Non-Stop $90,563,670
10. The Monuments Men $77,732,967

Let's look at how 2013 was performing by the same date:
1. Oz The Great and Powerful $226,745,932
2. The Croods $164,518,159
3. Identity Thief $133,250,395
4. G.I. Joe: Retaliation $117,482,316
5. Olympus Has Fallen $94,179,879
6. 42 $72,125,770
7. Mama $71,628,180
8. Safe Haven $71,134,566
9. Oblivion $70,171,915
10. A Good Day to Die Hard $67,252,596

We see that the top $200m picture in 2014 beat out the top from 2013, and that there are more titles that have $100m by May 1. Even the bottom of the top 10 looks better, with the under-$100m crowd higher than they were last year. Even when you compare the number of $100m pictures in the quarter alone - as opposed to taking the entire year for comparison - that number is higher (3 in 2013, 6 in 2014). That 3.9% increase might seem small, but Hollywood will take it.

There are still Q2 stinkers out there which have surprised even us: Muppets Most Wanted and Transcendence didn't even finish in the top 10 for the quarter, and never saw the light of day. If those had even made their budgets back, we would be talking about one addition to the $100m club and another close to it.

An Interesting Summer Approaches
With the market seemingly better off, Summer will be interesting to document: will a period known for long lines at the popcorn stand and jammed theaters push Hollywood into even better territory? With films like Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Godzilla, The Amazing Spider-man 2, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and Transformers: Age of Extinction on the way, we could be seeing a very nice period for Hollywood. We'll be watching the highly lucrative foreign market as well, which has now overtaken the American one and seeks to establish itself in the long-term plans of many future Hollywood productions.

Stick with us as we wait to see if Summer 2014 is actually better than we originally thought - read our original 2014 preview story.
Discuss this story with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.

See a Clip from The Penguins of Madagascar!

See the clip after the jump.

With the first trailer already released, we've now been given a clip from the November release.

Discover the secrets of the most entertaining and mysterious birds in the global espionage game: Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private now must join forces with the chic spy organization, the North Wind, led by Agent Classified (we could tell you his name, but then Š you know), voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch to stop the villainous Dr. Octavius Brine, voiced by John Malkovich, from taking over the world.

The Penguins of Madagascar opens November 25, 2014.

Hot Tub Time Machine 2 Trailer

Check out the red band trailer from the December release.
What do Adam Scott and The Terminator have in common? They're all a part of the red-band trailer for Hot Tub Time Machine 2, the follow-up to the 2010 comedy. Starring Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, and Clark Duke the guys are back and living the life before Lou (Corddry) gets shot (in a very sensitive place) but an unknown assailant. Faced with a life without Lou, the trio return to the time machine, only to go forward in time to 2024. From there, we get a Terminator reference, a little Adam Scott, and the team's characteristic hijinks.

Whether John Cusak Check out the trailer below:

Hot Tub Time Machine 2 opens December 25, 2014.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Hercules Review: Solidly Entertaining Summer Fare

Dwayne Johnson's Hercules is simply enjoyable, but check your expectations at the door.

Director Brett Ratner gets so little respect these days, and who can blame us? After the disastrous X-Men: The Last Stand sent the franchise to ground until 2011, he hasn't exactly won us over with other tripe like Tower Heist. So, it's with a great sigh of relief that I can say Hercules is a highly entertaining, suitably grand, and a well-paced historical action piece, so long as you check expectations at the door.

The son of Zeus, Hercules (Dwayne Johnson) has made a name for himself, completing the Seven Labors set forth by a jealous Hera and attaining the title of demi-god. But his achievements hide a deep secret. One of them is that he had help in his labors - among them the warrior Autolycus (Rufus Sewell), the seer Amphiaraus (Ian McShane), and the Amazon Atalanta (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal). His travels eventually take him to the kingdom of Thrace where King Cotys (John Hurt) and Princess Ergenia (Rebecca Ferguson) implore him to save their lands from a barbarous warlord; but only the promise of his weight in gold will be enough. Hercules also harbors deep secrets about the death of his family, which forced him into exile and his current mercenary status. Soon, a deep betrayal will force him to rethink everything he knows about the kingdom he's sworn to protect.

We're never quite sure if Hercules really is the son of a god, or some yoked-up, adrenaline-lace dude with incredible strength. Ratner and Writer Ryan Condral keep that one pretty close to the vest even to the end, allowing narrator McShane to tie up an important loose end. There's lots of comedic gems between the action including the repeated theme of one of Hercules rescuing women in "exciting bondage." This line goes over well with the princess' young son, to which Hercules intervenes with a gentle, "Do you even know what that means?" But the strength of Hercules lies not in the large action set pieces or in the umpteenth re-telling of the Greek tale, but of its humanizing of the demi-god - and the necessity of a team to help him - that works the best. This gives the characters something to fight for, standing together as more of a family than cold-killing mercs. Yes, Hercules is massive and Johnson looks the part, but it's clear that his Seven Labors could not have been accomplished without the team. McShane and Sewell enjoy the best-drawn characters, with lots of tasty one-liners to utter while slicing and dicing the competition. Although he keeps seeing his own death, Amphiaraus's wish (and continual denial through luck) is played up here just enough for it to be enjoyable. The others - including Berdal - aren't just there to sport their good looks, but enjoy singular moments with just enough background on them before some meet untimely ends.

Ratner mixes the epic fight scenes with plenty of political intrigue, allowing us to learn more about the ancient world without feeling we're getting a dolled-up history lesson. The scale is epic without looking too cheap, even if some of the baddies are not quite drawn out as well as they should. Joseph Fiennes' performance as Hercules' former king feels like it was shot in two days, as he's literally in the film for all of five minutes. It's Hurt who enjoys far more time to craft his character, making his deception a but more enjoyable when it's finally unleashed. But none of this is worthwhile unless you check your expectations at the door. This is more Clash of the Titans, less Gladiator, and so long as you're ready to be entertained by a giant of a man in Johnson and some lightly-coated historical action, you should do just fine.

For all the classically-trained British actors yelling out orders, Johnson has slowly cultivated his persona - and skills - into one of the most affable personalities in film. He may have been born with a great smile, but his hulking figure also gives way to scenes of pure humanity as he's taunted by nightmares of his fallen family. This couldn't have been the Johnson we knew in Scorpion King, and it's good to see his growth demonstrated in such fine form. He might never win an Oscar, but in terms of pure enjoyability, you can't go wrong with him. The score by relative newcomer Fernando Velázquez is epic and will keep you marching to Ratner's beat - it's one of my favorite of the year.

Hercules might find box office success, but it will be a hard slog as its lack of marketing and competition from Lucy means it has one week to make an impression before Guardians of the Galaxy unleashes its savory goodness. In that time, see Hercules and get the big popcorn and soda too - they're the perfect addition to this Summer stunner.

Hercules is rated PG-13 for epic battle sequences, violence, suggestive comments, brief strong language and partial nudity and has a runtime of 98 minutes.

Please leave a comment.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.

Open Forum Friday: July 25, 2014

Here's your chance to connect with the SJF community.
While you're welcome to comment on any movie or television thoughts you might have, here's a brief rundown of the movies released this week and Blu-rays to be released next Tuesday:

- Hercules
- Lucy
- Magic in the Moonlight

- Noah
- The Other Woman

Also, don't forget to listen to our weekly podcast, where we break down the major news of the week and do our giveaways.

No matter what you choose to talk about, a few ground rules: keep it nice, no ads, and no flaming.

Other than that, sound off on any movie or television thoughts you have.

Feel free to comment on any of the following:

1. What are you watching on television?
2. What's the last film you saw?
3. How can we make the podcast better?

These are just some of the questions, but again pick something movie or TV related.

Happy posting!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

And So It Goes Review

Review by Brandon Wolfe

Oren Little (Michael Douglas) is a real estate legend who prides himself on being able to sell anything. Looking to unload the majestic home where he raised his family as his final big score before heading off into the sunset, Oren shows a remarkable insensitivity toward his ethnically diverse potential buyers, transparently decorating the house with photographs of people from the same racial backgrounds as themselves (and even getting that wrong, as when he presents a Korean couple with pictures of Chinese people). And this is after we see him shoot a dog with a paintball gun to shoo it off of the property. For Oren, you see, is a huge jerk, a man who lost his wife some years back and has opted to wash his hands of all good graces ever since. He lives in a charming fourplex that he owns called Little Shangri-La, which he seems to love in spite of the fact that it’s a close-quarters property populated by a friendly, tight-knit community that Oren seems to loathe and can’t resist any opportunity to frustrate and belittle. His next-door neighbor Leah (Diane Keaton), a loopy, good-natured aspiring singer, frequently trades barbs with Oren, whose crusty disposition seems unfathomable to her. But one day, Oren’s life is upended by the arrival of his troubled son, who is headed off to jail for about six months and wants Oren to care for the granddaughter he never knew he had while he’s away. Oren, a man unaccustomed to doing favors for anyone regardless of blood relation, refuses, but his son’s persistence and Leah’s welcoming nature place the little girl into his orbit regardless.

Based on what I’ve described thus far, I’m pretty sure you could ascertain where ‘And So It Goes’ ends up going. The film is as sunshiny and fizzy as all get out. Oren, that nasty old cuss, can only hold out for so long before that adorable little girl melts his icy heart. He also forms a kind of fractured family unit with Leah, who initially does almost all of the heavy lifting taking care of Sarah (Sterling Jerins), to the point where the girl takes to calling this unrelated stranger “grandma”. Having each lost their spouses, Oren and Leah start a tentative relationship that keeps getting off-track because of Oren being a heel. Eventually Leah and Sarah restore so much of Oren’s lapsed humanity that he even helps to deliver the baby of the neighbor (Yaya DaCosta) with whom he previously wouldn’t bother to share a parking space.

Douglas is really all that ‘And So It Goes’ has going for it. The character is basically a sitcom version of Jack Nicholson’s Melvin Udall from the similarly titled ‘As Good As It Gets’, but Douglas is clearly having fun playing a jerk. Oren’s misanthropy never has any real bite because the movie is so Nerf-coated with lightweight pleasantness, but Douglas brings a sly-dog charm to his cornball putdowns. Keaton doesn’t fare quite as well. It’s a bit unsettling to watch her play the same mode of girly flibbertigibbet from her ‘Annie Hall’ days this deep into her sixties. The only other person in the cast who makes any kind of impression is a shockingly still-alive Frances Sternhagen as Oren’s salty office assistant. Her lines aren’t that great, either, but she delivers them with moxie.

But the film is a limp noodle, so bland and manufactured that it’s like a Hallmark Channel movie given a theatrical release with name actors. That Douglas will be redeemed is clear from the start, and there are really no bumps in the road on the path to that redemption. He doesn’t start to care about Sarah until he sees her biological mother, whom the movie presents as the most hilariously filthy and drugged-up wretch you ever did see, after which he drives the girl directly to an amusement park and everything is hunky-dory between the two from there on out. And his relationship with Leah suffers some minor personality conflicts, as well as Oren’s decision to make a hasty post-coital exit, but there are no surprises there, either. And it makes no sense why Oren, a man with no apparent need or desire for human contact, would choose to live amongst this hap-hap-happy bunch of loving neighbors. He shares a front porch with Leah and the children of his upstairs neighbors play with their Slip-N-Slide about six feet from his front door. Why would such a man put himself into an environment that practically demands that he be connected to the lives of others? Could he get that much joy from blocking the driveway and making snide insults?

Directed by Rob Reiner, ‘And So It Goes’ is a film by the hottest cast and crew of 1986. It’s obviously made to appeal to an older, more mature audience, and to act as counterprogramming against the more youth-oriented summer-movie offerings filling multiplexes. But for as much as the film would like to posit itself as a smarter, more adult alternative, it has a script as shoddy and dim as anything else playing in the neighboring auditoriums that this audience would look down their nose at. The film is essentially something you could envision Sandler and Barrymore making 15 years down the road. Reiner (who, by the way, puts in a cameo as a guy in a toupee who slips and falls on that Slip-N-Slide) might think he’s giving older crowds an antidote to youthful drivel, but this is still a movie that tries to squeeze a laugh out of a dog humping a giant teddy bear.

Lucy Review: Transcendence Meets Black Widow in a Dark Alley

The well-intentioned but disappointing Lucy goes all weird on us and never looks back. Lately, there's been a lot of talk in films about humans only using 10% of their brain. We've heard this for years, and while this has been proven flatly untrue, Luc Besson's Lucy forms 90 minutes of this pseudo-science into an uneven mess.

Lucy (Scarlet Johansson) is a party girl living the fast life in Taipei when she's forced to become a drug mule by the sinister villain Mr. Jang (Choi Min-Sik). Tucked in her lower abdomen is a bag of CPH4, which is eventually broken and begins to leak. As a result, this drug that pregnant women excrete begins to fill ScarJo, increasing her brain power and gifting her with powers such a telekinesis, immunity to pain, and the ability to travel through data streams and electronics. Desperate for what to do with her newfound powers, she reaches out to Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman), who encourages her to further humanity before she disappears altogether. Needing more of the drug to continue her transcendence, she enlists the help of a French police captain to arrest the other mules, while Mr. Jang gives chase. But will his help be enough to keep Jang away long enough for her journey to conclude?

Besson earned early street cred for The Fifth Element, but since then he's settled into a series of forgettable Euro-action pieces. Here, he makes a genuine attempt for something deeper, mixing psychedelic elements of 2001: A Space Odyssey, existential themes from The Fountain, and action sequences from The Matrix. The result is something less inspired. Meant to open dialogue about man's existence and his newfound love for all things fast and iPhone, Besson only scratches the surface, surrounding us with visual elements that are one minute eye-popping and the next poorly conceived and executed.

When Johansson is not on screen, the scene dies almost instantly, lost in a mix of pseudo-science and somewhat enjoyable action that never places our heroine in any real danger once she's exposed to the drug. True, the idea is to follow Lucy through her transformation, but the story does suffer once it's clearly established that no one and nothing can hurt her. That leaves audiences with one of two scenarios: enjoy the transformation or hope Besson shifts the emphasis somewhere else. Not only does the latter not happen, but Besson keeps changing the rules regarding her powers. There are points throughout where she seems as human as Professor Norman or any of the other goons and nerd-heads that overpopulate the screen. Even though the rules have been established of her growing omnipotence, Lucy can't seem to stop a gun or protect herself on a consistent basis.

One of my rules for cinema centers on maintaining a clear and concise set of rules for the audience, as it provides a needed anchor. Besson breaks his own rules when it suits him, convinced the scene will be better for it. Whether it's the pivotal transformation sequence or the ' all fall down' sizzle from the trailer, Lucy seems less powerful later in the film than she does the moment her body takes on the drug. His script also misses out on practical issues, like why Lucy needs to use a keyboard to type, when it's clear that her rapidly expanding mind can control electric impulses and human biology.

But the story by Besson also assumes that those who are forced to witness her transformation are actually ok with it. Sure, we get the whole "pass on what you have learned" request by Norman, but beyond that there is no declaration of acceptance (or worry) from anyone. Apparently, these 5%-ers never watched Transcendence. The moment she can harness such powers should fundamentally change the story, yet all it does is get lost in a minutia of long-winded speeches by Freeman and Johansson about life and seeking a higher purpose to it, while needless action set pieces occur around them.. And still, no one is worried about what this transformation can mean, either for mankind or for people's ability to not have Lucy infiltrating their systems. The only thing about Transcendence that did work was generating real worry that a being connected to everything represented a danger ala Skynet. Here, Norman and his boys actually encourage it because they want her data. What a waste.

Don't get me wrong, there are things here which do work. Besson neither flinches from ending Lucy's corporeal existence, nor does he deny her from a satisfying revenge sequence. ScarJo does her best Black Widow without the leather and tall boots, battling to retain her humanity in the process, all while Besson puts together a satisfying car chase as Jang as the cops descend on her. Composer Eric Serra's mix of electronic beats and orchestrated score serves the movie well, and Choi is a pretty entertaining bad guy. With another 10 minutes of exposition, all the Matrix-like shenanigans and ScarJo's irresistible features would have had a deeper meaning.

Some audiences will no doubt feel misled by the trailers, which depict Lucy as a stylized Summer action flick. What we get instead is a film that tries very hard to tackle hidden messages about capitalism vs socialism and pseudo-science, while showing nature shots of animals humping (no, I'm not kidding). Although ambitious like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Lucy doesn't crack open the larger implications of transcendence, denying both the action types the mindlessness they require and the serious filmgoer by failing to push the barrier beyond a pretty time travel sequence at the end. Lucy could have been so much more, but I found myself asking all the wrong questions (as did most of the audience) as the lights came up.

Lucy is rated R for strong violence, disturbing images, and sexuality and has a runtime of 90 minutes.

Please leave a comment.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.

Tyrant Review – “Hail Mary”

Tyrant Review - "Hail Mary"
Review by Brandon Wolfe
‘Tyrant’ picks up the thread from last week with the public protest against President Jamal still raging on, the flames being fanned by the rebellious Ihab Rashid. Bassam has taken it upon himself to resolve this crisis peacefully, to redeem his family name after the years of violent tyranny perpetrated by his father. He has set a meeting with Rashid to try to talk things out, but Bassam shows some savviness when he cancels the meeting at the last minute, realizing that Rashid would just use it as an opportunity to grandstand in front of his followers rather than engage in a dialogue. Bassam finds a new tack to pursue, or rather a new Rashid. Twenty years prior, Bassam’s father and Ihab’s father, Sheik Rashid, came extremely close to a peaceful resolution before things ended up going south and Sheik went into exile. Who better, Bassam figures, to bring about peace now than the only man who ever came close to pulling it off in the past?

Bassam’s quest for peace is the driving force behind “Hail Mary”, but it doesn’t make for a gripping hour of television. For starters, Adam Rayner as Bassam is still asleep at the wheel, delivering his lines with a blasé earnestness, but with no passion or heat. Rayner’s performance never feels alive, never grabs us and demands our attention. Even when Bassam, working with smug American ambassador John Tucker, orchestrates a meeting with Sheik Rashid where he must willfully submit to abduction via a bag placed over his head, finding himself in the hostile company of Rashid followers who detest him for being an Al-Fayeed, we never feel the tension that we should because Rayner doesn’t convey anything beyond the ability to recite his lines. If ‘Tyrant’ is going to be a story about how Bassam is corrupted by power, as its unambiguous ‘Godfather’ parallels would seem to suggest, lighting a fire under Rayner is going to be necessary as the series progresses.

One character who has all the fire in the world is Jamal. Ashraf Barhom remains the only member of the cast proving capable of making any of these flat characters come to life. Jamal carries within him such explosive energy, and when he keeps it contained, as he does as he submits to allowing Bassam to pursue a nonviolent solution to the civil unrest, he’s like a caged animal, his aggressive instincts just barely being kept at bay. And when Jamal does let the animal out, it’s truly frightening. When Nusrat’s father approaches Jamal to request that she be allowed to divorce Jamal’s son, Ahmed, due to her unrelenting trauma from Jamal’s pre-wedding assault of her, Jamal becomes unhinged, intimidating the man before ultimately shooting him in the arm. I couldn’t call Jamal a better constructed character than anyone else on this show, but Barhom’s live-wire performance is one of the only things keeping the series at all interesting.

Mercifully, we get a reprieve this week from Bassam’s banal children, but not from his banal wife, as Molly discovers housekeeper Reema stealing Vicodin for her brother, whom she claims has a broken arm and can’t go to a hospital because his injuries occurred at the demonstration and he would be considered a criminal. Molly, sharing her husband’s gut-level compassion, uses her clout as an Al-Fayeed to get the man medical treatment with no questions asked. This is not an interesting development and Jennifer Finnigan as Molly matches Rayner perfectly with her doe-eyed blankness. ‘Tyrant’s’ casting director should have employed far less pod people.

How it all shakes out is that Bassam pleads his case to Sheik Rashid and fails to get the man’s support toward the cause, coming home dejected and forced to face a furious Jamal. But then, wouldn’t you know it, just as General Tariq’s troops are about to storm the plaza to clear out the protestors, Sheik appears, embraces his son, publicly states his desire for a sit-down with Jamal and the troops are ordered to stand down. Whew. Good to see everything work out in the most dramatically convenient and transparently manufactured way possible. Such is the way of ‘Tyrant’.

We are now at the halfway point of ‘Tyrant’s’ ten-episode first season and there’s no evidence in sight that the show will pull itself out of the doldrums it resides in. It’s simply not a well-written show, especially from a dialogue standpoint (at one point, Leila, Jamal’s Lady Macbeth of a wife, asks a grim-faced General Tariq “Who drowned your puppy?”, an expression I’m sure is quite commonplace in most Middle Eastern nations). The series’ ineffectualness is proving to be a blight on FX’s otherwise sterling level of quality. Hopefully when the threat of cancellation is imminent, there won’t be a savior magically stepping forward at the perfect moment to save ‘Tyrant’s’ bacon.

Woody Allen Casts Two More to Star in His Latest Film

See who the director has hired to star in his next film. Woody Allen added to the cast of his latest film, which is currently shooting in Rhode Island. Starring alongside Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone are Parker Posey (BROKEN ENGLISH) and Jamie Blackley (SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN).

The untitled Gravier Productions film is produced by Allen’s longtime associates, Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum.

Allen’s upcoming film, MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT, was shot in the south of France last year and will be released on July 25, 2014 by Sony Pictures Classics.

The Trailer for Fifty Shades of Grey Has Arrived

See it after the jump.
For any of you who find bondage to be of interest, you probably read the E.L. James novel 50 Shades of Grey. Whether the book and the phenomenal response it received is worthy or not is anyone's guess. But it's inspired a movie, and we have the first trailer for it below.

Will 50 Shades of Grey walk the same gauntlet that hurt Nymphomaniac or Flith? Judge for yourself but we warned:


Comic-Con 2014: Avengers 2 Posters Released

Check out the limited edition SDCC posters after the jump.
Marvel has released a set of Avengers: Age of Ultron conceptual character posters and is planning to release more during the week. For now, check out the four they've released and we have them below:

13 Movies From 2013 Worth Another Look

We look back at 13 under-appreciated films from the previous year that are worth a second look.

Having passed the halfway point of the 2014 movie season, we began to think back on the 2013 movie season and were amazed that many of our Top 30 films didn't exactly hit homeruns with audiences. Rather than blame ourselves for being so wrong, we've sought to bring these back into the consciousness by highlighting them below. Given time away from them, some titles can take on new life, far exceeding their lackluster box office results. Luckily, the home market is more vibrant than ever, and with services like Netflix always adding new content from 2013, it's easier than ever to catch these little gems. In that spirit, we present 13 movies from 2013 that deserve another look.

To be clear: these are films which rank 40 or lower according to BoxOfficeMojo's 2013 box office results, and were released before the end of the year. They can also be films that were critical flops or somehow failed to generate success after deep marketing campaigns. They are in no particular order, and you can find our original review at the top of each summary:

1. Rush
Director Ron Howard turned in one of the most thrilling movies of 2013 that very few took the time to see. We were surprised just how good Rush was, and equaled disappointed that the usually very popular Howard struck out so badly with audiences over this oen. Set in the 1960's F1 racing world, Rush stars Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl as racing legends James Hunt and Niki Lauda. Their rivalry cadt a new light on the sport, and highlighted the dangers as well, showing Lauda survive a horrific crash that left him badly burned. You will never see anothe film that thrives on both terriffc performances and Howard's attention to detail. The camera work is top notch and this story about competition should be required watching before the start of every F1 season.

2. Oblivion
We've gone on many times about the brilliance that is Oblivion, but listen to the list of sub-par films that finished ahead of it at #42: The Lone Ranger, Planes, Bad Grandpa, Epic, and The Hangover Part III. That's certainly not a thing to be proud of, especially when the film starring Tom Cruise was such a terrific cinematic experience. Set on a dytopian Earth ravaged by an alien invasion, Oblivion tells the tale of two people who find out that their perfect well-ordered world is not what they think. Also starring Morgan Freeman, Oblivion set new standards for Science Fiction, returning us to the days of Starlog short stories wrapped around so many great reveals that we wondered when the insanity would end. Throw in Tron: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski and give it a pulse to French electronic artist M83, and you have the best SF film in modern memory. Oblivion deserves a spot in your video collection, and you'll thank us for recommending it.

3. Gangster Squad
Sometimes films are pushed back based on unimaginable tragedy: such was the case for Gangster Squad, a terrific period film about the mob in LA and the man assigned to bring that system down. Starring such big names as Josh Brolin, Emma Stone, and Mrielle Enos, Gangster Squad is the 21 Century version of the Untouchables; and while few can compete with that instant classic. Squad tries very hard and largely succeeds. Sean Penn plays an LA gangster with fdreams of expanding his reach, and his tough boxer mentality sets the stage for many a memorable scene. While Michael Pena and Robert Patrick also star as Brolin's left and right arms, Ryan Gosling plays pretty boy to Brolin's tough and unflinching character. Too bad a portion of the film showing a shooting at a mall was cut, but it gave the film a chance to breathe after an incredible 2012 run near its original Winter release date. Check this one out.

4. Trance
One of the most bizarre films of 2013, Trance is also one of the slickest films of the year. Shot by Director Danny Boyle, Trance centers around an art heist that's at first an inside job but morphs into something far darker. James McAvoy wowed us with a performance that teetered on the edge of insanity, while the full frontal of Rosario Dawson at a key moment led to no less than surprise and shock during our screening. Its winding story is just as engrossing, and will leave you guessing right up to the end. We can't recommend Trance enough.

5. Stoker
Another bizarre but brilliant film, Stoker breaks a lot of rules for film, never settling on a happy end to what's a very dark story about obsession. Starring Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, and the always impressive Matthew Goode (he's even great in The Good Wife), the film directed by Chan-Wook Park is both beautiful and unnerving, featuring masterbation and a love triangle that gets more creepy as time passes. By the end, every character's path has been totally blown apart, and the audience can't help but wonder where their lives had all taken such a tragic turn. This one divided audiences, but I think it's a great mind screw and a highly underrated film.

6. Ender's Game
We love our Science Fiction (and yes, there's a difference between it and Sci-Fi) and Ender's Game was pure enjoyment from the moment we laid eyes on it. Based on the Orson Scott Card novel, it follows the story of a young but brilliant boy (Asa Butterfield) who must rise up to save humanity from an alien invasion. Harrison Ford plays his trainer and commander, and it's a perfect casting. Frankly, Ford needed the mojo and Ender's benefits from his gruff manner and 'results over ethics' approach. There is a great twist near film's end, and it gives an added emotional weight to the film. The film didn't do well based mostly on bad press surrounding Card's bigotry against gays, but none of that plays into the film directed by Gavin Hood. It's totally re-watchable with an epic scale, courtesy of Composer Steve Jablonsky's score. At a minimum, give Ender's Game a chance on rental and see if you don't find yourself picking this one up.

7. Don Jon
The incredibly talented Joseph Gordon-Levitt got to direct his first feature film in 2013, and the results were strange, raunchy, and ultimately hilarious. Set in new jersey, Levitt plays the ladies man who falls for a gum-chewing diva played by Scarlett Johansson - she's feisty, demanding, and when she learns that he always masterbates after sex, she flies off the deep end, forcing our titular character to re-examine his life. Don's warped sexual standards creates a premise that looks at sex and dating at a time when so many are divorcing or choosing not to remarry. Don ’s feature film-directing debut (read our review) is a strange beast, so be warned: it pushes a lot of boundaries before finally settling on its great message.

8. Snitch
Buried early in 2013, Snitch must be what Alice felt like, tumbling down the rabbit hole. It's a gritty action thriller starring Dwayne Johnson as a trucking company owner whose son gets unknowingly caught up in the cartel drug trade. Upon his arrest, Johnson tries to bail out his son by posing as a willing player to move drugs in the hopes of catching them in the act. Unfortunately, he soon become a pawn between the cartel and a career prosecutor (Susan Sarandon), whose demands to keep Johnson in the game eventually leads him to seek witness protection for his family. It's Johnson's best performance ever, and one we hope will resurrect Snitch in the minds of many who either forgot to catch it or never heard of it. Barry Pepper also turns in a great performance as an undercover cop.

9. Prisoners
Another disturbing film from 2013, Prisoners sets itself apart by escaping the tropes of the standard kidnapping thriller. Starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gylenhall, the film suggests that vengeance in any form is actually counter-productive for the victim, as Jackman's rage of losing his daughter takes him down as dark a road as the person who initially committed the crime. When that name is revealed in one of the best thrillers of 2013, it will leave you shocked. Be warned: Prisoners takes such a dark turn that really no one emerges as a hero. This can alienate moviegoers expecting clear distinctions between good guys and bad ones. We encourage you to look past that traditional view, and give Prisoners a moment of your time. We promise you won't be let down.

10. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
Unlike many films on our list, HG:WH doesn't take itself seriously in the least. You'll realize this from the moment you pop this one into your Blu-ray player, and hopefully you'll check any expectations at the door. Based on a modern interpretation of the Grimm fairy tale, HG:WH expands the original story, as our brother/sister duo - played by Gemma Aterton and Jeremy Renner - become professional witch hunters and utilize a variety of high-tech weapons in a post-European medieval world. Well cast and including some great lines, HG:WH features Famke Janssen as the deliciously evil withc Muriel. Again, this isn't high drama or epic action, but it's a fun ride when you've got nothing else showing on your 220-channel overpriced cable package.

11. Free Birds
Another film that doesn't take itself seriously, this little animated gem instantly became the movie to watch before enjoying Thanksgiving dinner. It's a tike travel comedy in which a pair of turkeys (voiced by Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson) go back to Plymouth Landing to get their species off the menu. Also starring the voice talents of Amy Prohler and George Takei, Free Brids is a hilariously effective romp that will keep everyone entertained as mom prepares to keep turkeys ON the menu. It's highly recommended.

12. The Family
One of the unsung comedies of 2013, The Family is old school mob told deep in a small town in France. Fleeing the mob which he turned in to the Feds, Robert DeNiro and Michelle Pfeifer find themselves at first battling preconceived notions about their evil American ways, then actually fighting the mob as they learn of their location. Tommy Lee Jones is a perfectly dry Fed whose frequent moments with DeNiro are some of the film's best. Director Luc Besson has a rather patchwork career, but The Family represents one of his best. If you love Married to the Mob (another Pfeifer classic), The Family will have you laughing just as much.

13. I Give It a Year
This is a film that barely made $34,000 and was never given a wide release. But its premise of a couple who finds themselves a troubled first year into their marriage is smart and absolutely unapologetic about the difficulties of finding and holding onto love. Starring Rose Byrne and Rafe Spall, and Anna Faris, Year doesn't sugar-coat the realities of being married in the 21st Century; the ending is unexpected and at the same time completely appropriate to the topic. And while it doesn't end as one would expect, the performances are top-notch dry humor. It's the first time we saw Byrne in a comedic role and her style reminds us a lot of her big hit Neighbors. We wonder why hidden gems like this one get dumped on the street, but don't watch if you've just broken up or find yourself in the middle of tough times at home: I Give It a Year won't make you feel any better about your chances.

Great Treasures Await
In the end, films like these might not become instant classics, but many of them have a chance to endure long after their initial releases. In our opinion, all of these deserve a second chance, and you could do a lot worst to see several of 2014's rater dubious candidates. And while we can't imagine Transformers: Age of Extinction or Tammy finding a way into our hearts in 2015, we know that every title we've listed above touched us in some way that necessitated mention. What films of 2013 have you revisited, and have any changed your mind?

Comment below and join the conversation!

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.

Comic-Con 2014: Marvel Announces Another 2018 Movie

The announcement brings Marvel's 2018 releases to three.
It's early at Comic-Con 2014, but the news is already starting to flow from the event. Ready to make a big splash, Marvel has announced another release date for an untitled film, this one May 4, 2018.

This brings the total number of Marvel films in 2018 to three, and that's not counting other studios which own properties like Spider-man and X-Men. The news comes less than a week after Mouse House claimed five additional other dates from 2017-2019.

The news is almost as important as the Wednesday news that Sony had vacated that date for The Amazing Spider-Man 4 as part of its reshuffling of the franchise.

But what about learning the actual titles to all of these films? It's clear that we'll get news about many of them this week, as it presents in Hall H on July 26.

It's possible that the May 4, 2018 could be set as a Guardians of the Galaxy sequel, but we're hoping for something more grand such as Nova or perhaps the long-promised follow-up to 2008's Incredible Hulk. Either way, the schedule is getting filled with lots of Marvel movie goodness. Let's hope Kirby vs. Marvel doesn't shoot all of that down, but for now here's a rundown of tall the dates and associated titles:

May 1: The Avengers: Age of Ultron
July 17: Ant-Man

May 6: Captain America 3
July 8: Doctor Strange

May 5: Untitled
July 27: Untitled
Nov. 3: Untitled

May 4: Untitled
July 6: Untitled
Nov. 2: Untitled

May 3: Untitled

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

MOCKINGJAY – PART 1 Limited Edition Comic Con Poster

Check out the limited edition SDCC poster after the jump.
In the spirit of San Diego Comic Con, Lionsgate has unveiled a limited edition poster, created by artist WK Interact for the film everyone is waiting for: THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 1. Take a closer look at the stunningly intricate poster below.

AND in case you aren't able to make it to SDCC this year, head over to TheHungerGamesExplorer.com where you can sign up for the chance to win a SIGNED COPY of this poster!

THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 1 opens nationwide November 21, 2014.

The worldwide phenomenon of The Hunger Games continues to set the world on fire with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1, which finds Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) in District 13 after she literally shatters the games forever. Under the leadership of President Coin (Julianne Moore) and the advice of her trusted friends, Katniss spreads her wings as she fights to save Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and a nation moved by her courage. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 is directed by Francis Lawrence from a screenplay by Danny Strong and Peter Craig and produced by Nina Jacobson's Color Force in tandem with producer Jon Kilik. The novel on which the film is based is the third in a trilogy written by Suzanne Collins that has over 65 million copies in print in the U.S. alone.

NIGHTCRAWLER Poster & Teaser Trailer Revealed!

Check out the newest trailer for the Jake Gyllenhaal thriller after the jump.

Open Road Films is pleased to share the POSTER and TEASER TRAILER for their upcoming thriller, NIGHTCRAWLER, starring Jake Gyllenhaal!

NIGHTCRAWLER hits theaters October 17, 2014!

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