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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Blu-ray 3D/2D Review: 'Jurassic World'

Universal's gigantic dinosaur moneymaker arrives at home just in time to bore us.

Review by Matt Cummings

If you had come to me in December of 2014 with news that Jurassic World would be (up to this point) the largest moneymaker of 2015, I would have sicked my rapacious cats on you. Better than Age of Ultron? Furious 7? And what about Mad Max: Fury Road? While all better films, World somehow entered the zietgiest, eventually taking in an astonishing $651.7m domestically and shattering long-held records across the board. With its release onto Blu-ray this week, there's still little reasoning behind such an impressive performance, even with an amazing audio and video transfer.

The Movie - 3.5/5
After the disastrous events of Isla Nubar in Jurassic Park, the island is more like Disneyland now, replete with happy genetically-spliced dinosaurs of every kind, creating a safe (if almost homogeneous) experience, with children riding mini-Triceratops and a Sea World-inspired demonstration of a Mosasaurus. Among its visitors are brothers Zach (Nick Robinson) and and the younger Gray (Ty Simpkins), who worries that his parents are getting a divorce. The two are special guests of their aunt Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), the park's coldly-efficient director. She's too busy with meetings and VIP arrivals to spend time with them, causing the boys' mother (Judy Greer) to worry about their safety. Claire's lab has also been busy making a new hybrid called Indominus Rex, which promises to ramp up ticket sales and corporate sponsorships. But that doesn't sit well with former Navy man-turned-raptor-trainer Owen (Chris Pratt), who urges Claire to shut down the program. Unfortunately, the beast gets out, spreading terror across the park and forcing Owen and Claire to work together to rein it in.

I said this before in my theatrical review and I'll say it again: Jurassic's dinosaurs have always ranked middle to low on the destructive creature scale, with Godzilla at the top and Pacific Rim kaijus offering him stiff competition. Godzilla would have taken down Indominus Rex in a heartbeat, making the hybrid beast's actions seem more welterweight than big heavy. Sadly, that's still the sense you get throughout World, that the dinosaurs are either posers or high-class Beverly Hills types that couldn't survive in America's more desperate towns. Director Collin Trevorrow proves he can move from the slow burn comedy of Safety Not Guaranteed to wild action without blinking a green-tinged dinosaur eye. The problem is that he and Writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Connelly don't bring those independent sensibilities of character development with them. Characterization essentially ends after Act 1, replaced with near-deafening dinosaur screaming, running, and bashing. There are guffaws in the story as well, such as the ill-conceived "I think our parents are getting a divorce" subplot that's never addressed after Act 2. Everyone re-gathers at the end to group hugs without ever knowing if the parents were seeking a divorce in the first place. Why even include it if there's never a resolution? Re-watching it just exposes the same problems.

Pratt's Owen comes across as a dinosaur whisperer without really knowing how he got there, short of bonding with his boys at hatching. Baddie Vincent D'Onofrio is nothing more than a one-note military man obsessed with incorporating raptors into the military ranks (huh?), his performance foreshadowing his fate as a tasty treat for Owen's raptor posse. The relationship between Pratt and Howard feels as cold as the dead shark which Mosasaurus feeds on in the first act, their chemistry nearly non-existent. You could see this problem in the trailers, as neither seemed quite right for their roles. There is one funny scene between them, as we learn that the two went on a date once; it still serves as the funniest exchange of the film, and I felt myself wanting more of that.

But we're here to see dinosaurs destroying stuff, and Trevorrow's team is ready to do so. The first assumption they make is that The Lost World and JP II never existed, throwing instead plenty of tips to the original, along with the cautionary argument of playing God, performed well enough by mad scientist Henry Wu (BD Wong) and the charmingly stand-up billionaire owner Masrami (Irrfan Khan), as one tries to convince the other that the key to the park's diminishing profits is to make things bigger. All it apparently proves is that corporate responsibility still gets you dead. Fans didn't seem to have a problem not seeing Indominus for the first 45 minutes, because there were so many CGI monsters running around; but the CGI is good but not spectacular, with Pratt's ride through the jungle looking horrible. The film does benefit from a spot-on score by Composer Michael Giacchino, who borrows many elements from John Williams with near perfect results.

Jurassic World never escapes the self-mockery of corporate sponsorships and white-washed theme parks, settling in on a big loud experience that is the very thing it initially despises. But it's also big fun, so long as you don't care about character development or the mistakes of man (once again) coming back to haunt them. It's just more of the same, and yet less of it.

The Video - 4/5
Jurassic World's 3D presentation is decidedly meh. Like the film, it's neither great nor terrible, offering appreciable moments of depth, but fails to use modern technology to create a great experience. It suffers greatest in the monster shots: I wasn't looking for the old in-your-face style of action, but there's never a feeling that Isla is a dynamic place where anything is possible. That experience just doesn't ripple its way out into the 3D world. Sure, there's debris that waffs around and some wreckage (particularly in more open scenes) enjoys a certain sense of depth, but in general it's not an eye-opening experience. The pinnacle of this disappointment arrives in when the Mosasarus leaps out of the water - it's nowhere near as impressive as I would have hoped.

The 2D experience is far superior. MPEG-4/AVC transfer is more impressive in every way, balancing the organic with the digital quite well. World was shot on film and then transferred to digital, and that process really comes through in the grain. We're there yet with digital, so seeing it like this feels a lot like going back to the original. The print is crisp and colors work very well. Hair, sweat, and blood look real, and complexions reveal individual pores in some cases. Equipment and other props show off fine detail. The digital world too benefits from Trevorrow's and Cinematographer John Schwartzman's acumen, revealing individual leaves and broken branches. Greens look outstanding, and there's a general warmness in those outdoor scenes. Interior shots of the lab and comms center give off a more robotic feel, demonstrating that Universal understands how to change things up in their transfers. Shadows and blacks never collide, but work together to create real depth. Any 'washy' issues you might see in the comms center are most like due to poor set lighting than a flaw in the transfer. Finally, there's no evidence banding or aliasing of any kind. Had the 3D been a better experience - or not offered at all - my score would have been a perfect one. The 2D is really that good.

The Audio - 5/5
Ever since I began to review Blu-ray, Universal has held the crown for best audio transfers. With Jurassic World they continue with that dominance, turning in one of the best audio experiences of the year. Bashing us with a flawless DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 lossless soundtrack, it feels like we're there experiencing the chaos which Indominus Rex eventually brings. The center channel has been scrubbed of everything except dialogue, which is Universal's trademark; there we get no interruptions or murmuring, which makes the rather chintzy dialogue that much worse. But we're not here to witness Shakespeare (although that would be interesting), and so the sound effects and music consistently deliver a powerful experience. Left and right forward channels deliver a 7.1 downmixed to my 5.1 setup, almost shuddering with an overabundance of quality. Composer Giacchino's score echoes wonderfully here, treating the audience to a symphony wrapped in the chaos of the moment. We also get precise handling of explosions, gunshots, snarls, and crashes. But it's the LFE and rears that complete this experience. In the surrounds, we hear an almost consistent river of crowd chatter, lab sounds, and nature sounds like wind and flowing water. And then there's the LFE, ready to pounce, claw, and rip the audience to shreds. It's constantly moving, whether it's adding an emphasis to the score or assisting the dinosaurs with their particular brand of moving. Footfalls thunder and felt like they were shaking my windows, and the roars feel like you're actually there. It would be difficult to award a clear winner for 2015 (see Mad Max: Fury Road), but World makes a very strong case for its inclusion.

The Supplements - 3.5/5
Jurassic World's compendium is a mixed bag. Missing an audio commentary, the experience is definintely minimized. It may seem like a lot to demand, but a commentary gets you inside the director's head, giving them a forum to discuss what they think are moments that audiences might appreciate or even miss about their film. Therefore, I've marked it down 1 star before even getting to the other items. The 3D disc does not contain any supplements, but the 2D disc does, which are all presented in HD:
  • Deleted Scenes (6:08): Sadly this is one giant reel, and you cannot click between each.
  • Chris & Colin Take on the World (8:57): Pratt and Trevorrow spend time asking each other a variety of questions, share their memories about Jurassic Park, discuss creating suspense in a film like this, and a variety of other topics.
  • Welcome to Jurassic World (29:52): An overreaching, well done piece about several aspects of the film. We learn about the cast/crew, the film's themes, shooting the film, designing the world, using animatronic dinosaur props, etc.
  • Dinosaurs Roam Once Again (16:29): This feature breaks down the importance of CGI working within the human world. It discusses the importance of the actors in selling the digital illusions, and how that technology is changing the way directors shoot their films.
  • Jurassic World: All-Access Pass (10:11): Pratt and Trevorrow return to look at several key points of the film, as well as how some of them were crafted.
  • Innovation Center Tour with Chris Pratt (2:01): A featurette tour of the set, which include some tips-of-the-hat to previous films in the series.
  • Jurassic's Closest Shaves - Presented by Barbasol (3:00): Serving as nothing more than a commercial, this is a montage featuring some of the most dangerous moments from the series.

    Our evaluation copy arrived as 3D/2D/DVD/Digital HD combo pack. The slipcase is very attractive. At the time of this post, packaging options for the film were available, including a Walmart lunch pail, a Target tin with additional features, and a collector's set with two dinosaurs and the tin.

    The Bottom Line - 4/5
    While Jurassic World satisfies in the simplest way possible, its story gaps, good (not great) CGI, and decent performances keep it from wiping off the mud of its shunned brethren. The home release is better in 2D than 3D, with the 2D making a strong case for best audio and video transfers of 2015. This is a must-have if you like kaiju or big loud experiences on your home set.

    Jurassic World is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril and has a runtime of 124 minutes.

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

  • Friday, October 30, 2015

    Marvel Collector Corps Review: October 2015

    Marvel Collector Corps delivers steady returns with its VILLAINS theme.

    Review by Matt Cummings

    The subscription box war has seen amazing things lately, with two of the best ever from both Loot Crate and Geek Fuel. But folks, remember that an upstart is making waves as well: Marvel Collector Corps. Ill-content to let money pass along to lesser box companies, Marvel has delivered steady returns for fans in May, June, and August. This sort of 'steady-Eddie' approach might make each box seem a bit...predictable...but its quality and value make it a compelling choice whil.e others ebb and flow with increasing frequency. This month it's VILLAINS.

    The Promise

    Before we begin, let's look at the deal again: promising a value of $50, the box would keep the "fluff" (their words) to a minimum with Funko partnering each time to deliver an exclusive figure. Joining at the Founders level would get you an 8" exclusive figure on your one-year anniversary, but you can also subscribe at the Collector level at $25 with $6.95 shipping. We're still not sure which figure they will release to Founders, but it's clear now that Funko will play a part. With my Marvel Unlimited Plus comic sub, I get a terrific (and exclusive) Legends figure, so I'm hopeful that we'll see something as high quality as the Rocket Raccoon which graced my door months ago. Anyone who might have some insight into this is encouraged to let us know.

    The Delivery
    Once again, it's a nice big box, which means plenty of room for awesomeness. The Venom image isn't the first one I'd choose (I'm more of a Doom/Thanos guy), but the art is solid. As you can see, the outer box features the same lettering across the entire sides of the box as in previous months. Interior artwork is from a classic comic, but I'm unaware of which. As with previous months, MCC now divides the box to keep the contents safely secured. No more rustling around to damage the goods!

    Once again, the inner flap contains two collectible "accessories" including a Red Skull patch and Green Goblin pin. Each of these are exclusive to MCC, and their workmanship is terrific. These have formed the basis for every box, and I'm definitely loving them.

    The Guts
    One of my reasons for purchasing this series was to secure a t-shirt, which I've been richly rewarded since the first box. As you can see, we have a shirt and what appears to be three Funko figures. While such news shouldn't come as a surprise, it's the exclusive Pop! Moribus that's got me a little giddy. He's a bad dude in the comics, and here the high-quality sculpt is not hard to see.
    Let's start with the smallest addition, a mini Pocket POP Venom keychain. Although he's had a major Pop! released already, this one works if you're into that kind of stuff. This might be the first MCC item I might place up on eBay. It's not poorly made, just not something I'm looking for. What I do love is the October Collector Corps Exclusive Dorbz Loki Packaged DORBZ. It's beautifully painted and the cape and helmet look fantastic. Definitely a keeper. As you know, I never open these figures, so he'll join a growing rank of Pop!s that now include Ant-Man and The Hulkbuster.

    A Shirt To Die For
    But then there's that shirt, and once again Marvel hits it out of the park. This collection of pencil-drawn villains is simply terrific, with the shirt made of a soft material that rivals anything you can buy at Hot Topic. Think Disney over Walmart. This is almost worth the total of the entire month's subscription. Then you add the patch/pin and the Pop!s and you see why I'm so happy every other month.

    The Comic
    Included with the box is another comic: a MCC variant for Invincible Iron Man. Looks like Tony is wrapped up in some zombie ass kicking here, but I'll never know as I don't open these either. Yes, you're getting the picture here. I'm sure my friends at Marvel Unlimited can help me delve into this issue. Either way, I'm happy with MCC's improved shipping method by adding a bag and board.

    The Bottom Line
    Marvel's Collector Corps' October release is another solid addition to the family, which might come as a bit of "what have you for me lately" to some. Rubbish: MCC has chosen the simple road in delivering high-quality items that fans want. It's a no-lose proposal, and one that makes each box as desirable as the next. That's the point, isn't it? Loot Crate could certainly take a page from MCC's book. And while they delivered the best box in perhaps sub's short history, I almost prefer the slow/steady approach behind MCC. It's a great way to win the subscription box war that will soon have another player in the Star Wars-themed Smuggler's Bounty.

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

    Although the food looks sumptuous, Burnt tastes terribly pedestrian.

    Review by Matt Cummings


    In Director John Wells' Burnt, the former chef Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper) attempts to resurrect his career to earn the elusive third Michelin star while atoning for his past mistakes. But that won't be easy: although he's now clean from drugs and alcohol, many of his supporters have vanished, including fellow chefs Michel (Omar Sy), and Max (Riccardo Scamarcio). When Jones approaches his former partner Tony (Daniel Bruhl) - who runs his deceased father's restaurant but has doubts as to Adam's sincerity - the two put their pasts aside to turn Tony's kitchen into the best in London. Faced with a drug debt he cannot pay back and a cutthroat mentality on the part of competing restaurants, Adam must forge ahead with new-hire Helene (Sienna Miller), while Tony awaits the inevitable visit by The Michelin Guide.

    Burnt isn't so much a sumptuous feast as it's more a Sunday buffet: lots of flavors leaving you with little to remember. In some cases, such a menu would thrill an action fan, but that's not who's paying to see Burnt, and given those parameters it's not so much a fail as more of a push. Wells does push his actors quite well, using every quip from Knight's script. Wells also makes the food look as exquisite as it probably tastes, surrounding it in opulent settings throughout London. But it's here where Wells also stumbles: there are literally scenes in which Cooper moves in and out of focus while occupying the same space. I caught two different instances in which Cooper doesn't move from a chair or area he's in, but the camera struggles to keep him in focus. The next minute, we get a pretty image of London, demonstrating that Wells knows what he's doing. It's a minor point, but when you're shooting for a Michelin star or Oscar glory, you better have the plate perfectly arranged.

    Cooper likes to work with the same people (see J. Law in just about all of his movies), and here he reunites with his American Sniper cohort Miller, who's largely unrecognizable from her previous outing. But that ability to transform effortlessly between soldier wife, leather-clad baddie, or chef, offers an appealing push-back against Cooper's Joe instead of becoming subservient to his almost military handling of the kitchen. The two have good chemistry, although this is really Cooper's show. He's come so far from his blundering days in Alias, and here he makes a convincing case that his character's addictions have taken a toll. Jones is clearly weary, edgy, and filled with promise; Cooper seems to bask in these kinds of films, allowing Jones' deficiencies to kind of wash over him. Burnt doesn't make Cooper shine, but it does lead to some good storytelling.

    But Burnt also stumbles through several unnecessary plot lines and pseudo cameos, including the terribly underused Alicia Vikander as Joe's ex-girlfriend. There's never the sense that either clicked as a couple, as their on-screen chemistry isn't given enough time to develop. In addition, Writer Steven Knight doesn't add enough urgency to things, fashioning a pure hero arc that's instantly recognizable. Yes, Adam will go through fire to get his third star, yes he will stumble and ultimately succeed; the problem is the menu Knight has fashioned doesn't sell us the dish, although he does drop a few surprises along the way. Bruhl's complex relationship with Jones is perhaps the best part of Burnt, highlighting the trouble one which bad decision can have on your future. Bruhl is consistently good in everything he does, although his inheritance of the family restaurant and Jones' drama are only tacitly explored. Emma Thompson's role as a nurse/psychiatrist is nice but ultimately hollow: her interactions with Joe amount to nothing more than dime-store drug psychology, something which Joe doesn't need.

    What also plagues Burnt is the idea that the stars matter at all: it's not like Jones had them taken away, forcing a redemption scenario. This is just a guy who wants something fairly superficial, prompting Thompson's Rosshilde to state it best: "Then what?" I never felt that question got answered, leaving the entire ending of the film open to a questionable epilogue. Burnt leaves a pedestrian taste in one's mouth, when I think the whole point was to fill it with amazing flavors.

    While Burnt is filled with good (but not exceptional) performances, its hero arc can be seen a mile away. That doesn't make for an Oscar-worthy experience, although it tries hard to impress. You're almost better off watching the superior 2014 Chef, as its straight-through approach only tries to be what it is and ultimately serves a tastier dish.

    Burnt is rated R for language throughout and has a runtime of 101 minutes.

    Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.
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    Selena Gomez To Bring “13 Reasons Why” To Netflix

    Variety is reporting Netflix is in final negotiations to adapt the best-selling young adult novel “13 Reasons Why” as a 13-episode series with Selena Gomez set to exec produce,

    Based on the 2007 novel of the same name from author Jay Asher, “13 Reasons Why” tells the stories of the late Hannah Baker, a high school student who committed suicide.

    The story will follow a boy named Clay through an emotional night when he receives a shoe box of cassette tapes from his late classmate and crush Hannah, after she recently committed suicide. On the tapes, which are mailed with instructions to pass along from one student to another, Hannah explains to twelve peers how they each played a role in her death, by giving thirteen reasons explaining why she took her life.

    The project hails from Anonymous Content and Paramount TV with a pilot penned by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Brian Yorkey.

    Before landing at Netflix as a series — which has been in talks at the streaming service for over one year — “13 Reasons Why” had been in development as a feature film at Universal.

    After reading the book, Gomez, along with her mother Mandy Teefey and producer Kristel Laiblin, brought the book to Anonymous Content for a screen adaptation. The trio of ladies will all exec produce, with Teefey producing through her Kicked to the Curb shingle, along with Joy Gorman Wettels of Anonymous with Michael Sugar and Steve Golin, who will also serve as non-writing exec producers.

    “13 Reasons Why” marks Gomez’s first major exec producing credit, though she did serve as an EP on Disney Channel’s “Wizards of Waverly Place” TV movie, “The Wizards Return: Alex vs. Alex” in 2013. Gomez got her start on “Barney & Friends” and rose to fame on Disney’s “Wizards of Waverly Place,” on which she starred for its four-season run.

    “13 Reasons Why” was published by Razorbill, an imprint of Penguin Group, and has been on the New York Times bestseller list for eight years straight, being printed in 35 languages. The book inspired the Thirteen Reasons Why Project, an online community where readers can share their reactions to the story, in an effort to spread the discussion on teen suicide and bullying prevention.

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    Sandra Bullock To Lead An All Female Ocean's Eleven Film

    The Playlist is reporting the burgeoning creative partnership between George Clooney and Sandra Bullock that yielded this weekend's "Our Brand Is Crisis" (in which Bullock stars, Clooney produces, and David Gordon Green directs), is set to kick up a notch in the near future. A new "Ocean's Eleven" film is in the works, only this time, in line with the recent Hollywood gender-swapping trend, it's due to feature an all female line-up, with Bullock in the lead, and Gary Ross ("The Hunger Games," "Seabiscuit," "Pleasantville") directing.

    The project was initiated last year by the power trio of late producer Jerry Weintraub, ‘Ocean’s’ trilogy director Steven Soderbergh, and the franchise's main star, Clooney. Olivia Milch (“Queen & Country,” “Little Women”), who has become a go-to screenwriter for female-centric projects, has been working on the screenplay for months.

    A project we’ve been tracking for much of the year, the female ‘Ocean’s’ has actually been quietly gestating since at least fall 2014, but we worried that it hit a major snag recently when the legendary Weintraub passed away this past summer (his memorial was held last month in New York and the aforementioned key players were all there). But sources close to the project tell The Playlist that the movie is still definitely in the works, and Milch has handed in a draft of the screenplay. Ross is a longtime Soderbergh friend and ally, and as she mentions in this recent press conference, Bullock has been close with her "Gravity" co-star Clooney for a long time now.

    Weintraub, Clooney, and Soderbergh clearly became tight during the Section 8 and ‘Ocean’s’ trilogy years, and it seems like Bullock has joined that extended family. Her role in “Our Brand Is Crisis” was originally written for Clooney, so a Bullock-led 'Ocean's' would not be the first time she's stepped directly into Clooney's shoes. It's unclear how directly connected (or not) this remake/reboot/sequel/spinoff will be to the Soderbergh pictures, but everyone is keen on this new ‘Ocean’s’ project, and sources tell us Clooney may even cameo as Danny Ocean.

    Somehow, this not-quite-so-tightly kept secret has not properly broken until now, but traces of it have been on the Internet for a few months — Amy Pascal alluded to the existence of this new ‘Ocean’s’ film in the notorious Sony leak from last year. The then Sony chief urgerd her team to move faster on her all-female “Ghostbusters” project when she got wind of the competing gender-swap ensemble film in the works (we referenced this a few months back).

    The female 'Ocean’s' film is expected to be Ross’ next movie after he finishes up with “The Free State Of Jones” starring Matthew McConaughey, which was, in a show of confidence, recently bumped up to a prime May 13, 2016 release date. Plot details on the new 'Ocean's' project are being held under wraps for now. — reporting by Rodrigo Perez

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    Movie Review. SCOUTS GUIDE TO THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE Freakin' Awesome!

    Rama is back with another review and it seems like he really liked this movie.

    Freakin' Awesome!

    Step aside, Zombieland! There’s a new kid on the block! SCOUTS GUIDE TO THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE rocks my socks off! I was laughing so hard, snots came out of every orifice, it was that freakin’ funny! And our unlikely heroes are badass to the bone. Just sit back, hold tight, and enjoy the ride!

    Three young talents, Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller, and Joey Morgan play three best friends who’ve been scouts for a number of years. Sheridan plays Ben, the virtuous goal oriented one who feels sorry for Augie (Joey Morgan) who thinks scout is everything for eternity, whereas Logan Miller plays Carter, the rowdy one who can’t wait to move on. One night, after a betrayal at the campground, they find their town attacked by an outbreak. And they get by with a little help from a cocktail waitress Denise played by Sarah Dumont who can shoot a zombie’s head off and walk away looking H-O-to the T!

    This Christopher Landon-directed film is basically coming-of-age story at the dawn of the dead. There’s no better way to put this than that SCOUTS GUIDE TO THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE is a helluva great time at the theaters, it’s a rock ‘em sock ‘em experience in high voltage. And the comedy is consistent from start to finish, even when the action and the gore get elevated. It has every formula you’d find in a zombie movie including coming up with your own custom-made personalized weaponry using whatever tools you can get your hands on. There’s not a single boring minute in SCOUTS GUIDE TO THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, at the heart of it is this friendship story, but the zombies are more than just a canvas or a background, speaking of which you’ll get to see them do some of the darndest things ever, irreverent and unapologetic. SCOUTS GUIDE TO THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE doesn’t hold back, so just let it all in and again, enjoy the ride!

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    Neill Blomkamp's Alien Film On Hold

    As reported recently, Ridley Scott's Prometheus sequel, now titled Alien: Paradise Lost, has taken precedent over Neill Blomkamp's intriguing Alien ideas, entering production first at the beginning of next year. While we were initially led to believe that Blomkamp's own Alien would likely follow a year later, that now, sadly, turns out not to be the case. Blomkamp has tweeted that his Alien project is currently in a "holding" pattern, possibly indefinitely, and that he's moving on to other things.

    If you somehow missed it, Blomkamp's Alien arrived in a flurry of activity at the beginning of this year, just as Chappie was hitting cinemas. Blomkamp released some just-for-fun Alien designs online, featuring both Sigourney Weaver's Ripley and Michael Biehn's Corporal Hicks. The internet went crazy, and Fox got excited and put the project in development.

    Conspicuously though, while there were some lovely pictures, there never seemed to actually be a screenplay or even a coherent plan, and Blomkamp never seemed clear on whether his film would somehow take place in between Aliens and Alien 3, or ignore the second half of the original series completely. So while the web may shake its fist in Scott's direction, yowling that they'd rather have a proper new Alien than any more bloody Prometheus, it's possible that there's more to the Alien 5 abandonment than just Sir Ridders getting his own way.

    "Abandonment" might be too strong a word anyway, since Blomkamp's Twitter line is still that his own Alien is on hold pending Alien: Paradise Lost, rather than a complete shut-down. He may be heading for pastures new for the time being, but he might be back at some point.

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    Gordon Ramsay Reacts To #BURNTMOVIE

    Why does Michelin Starred chef Gordon Ramsay recommend you see The Weinstein Company's film BURNT? Watch the famous chef dish about his favorite parts of the film, in theaters everywhere TODAY, OCTOBER 30th!



    Chef Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper) had it all - and lost it. A two-star Michelin rockstar with the bad habits to match, the former enfant terrible of the Paris restaurant scene did everything different every time out, and only ever cared about the thrill of creating explosions of taste. To land his own kitchen and that third elusive Michelin star though, he'll need the best of the best on his side, including the beautiful Helene (Sienna Miller). BURNT is a remarkably funny and emotional story about the love of food, the love between two people, and the power of second chances.

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    THE BROTHERS GRIMSBY TEASER TRAILER

    Nobby (Sacha Baron Cohen), a sweet but dimwitted English football hooligan, reunites with his long-lost brother Sebastian (Mark Strong), a deadly MI6 agent, to prevent a massive global terror attack and prove that behind every great spy is an embarrassing sibling.

    Nobby has everything a man from Grimsby could want, including 11 children andthe most gorgeous girlfriend in the northeast of England (Rebel Wilson). There's only one thing missing: his little brother, Sebastian, who Nobby has spent 28 years searching for after they were separated as kids. Nobby sets off to reunite with Sebastian, unaware that not only is his brother MI6's deadliest assassin, but he's just uncovered plans for an imminent global terrorist attack. On the run and wrongfully accused, Sebastian realizes that if he is going to save the world, he will need the help of its biggest idiot.

    Watch the trailer after the Jump...



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    New By The Sea Trailer Starring Angelina Jolie Pitt

    Written, directed and produced by Academy Award® winner Angelina Jolie Pitt, By the Sea serves as her directorial follow-up to Universal Pictures’ epic Unbroken. The dramatic film stars Brad Pitt and Jolie Pitt, who are supported by an international ensemble led by Mélanie Laurent, Melvil Poupaud, Niels Arestrup and Richard Bohringer.

    By the Sea follows an American writer named Roland (Pitt) and his wife, Vanessa (Jolie Pitt), who arrive in a tranquil and picturesque seaside resort in 1970s France, their marriage in apparent crisis. As they spend time with fellow travelers, including young newlyweds Lea (Laurent) and François (Poupaud), and village locals Michel (Arestrup) and Patrice (Bohringer), the couple begins to come to terms with unresolved issues in their own lives.

    Watch the trailer after the Jump...



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    Thursday, October 29, 2015

    Bad Santa 2 Begins Filming In January

    Miramax and Broad Green Pictures have announced that Thornton will reprise his role as Willie Soke, and production on "Bad Santa 2" will start in January in Montreal, Quebec. However, there's not much else in the way of details. There's no word on who has penned the script, or who will be directing. Steve Pink ("Hot Tub Time Machine," "About Last Night") and Doug Ellin ("Entourage") had been linked to the project in the past, but that was a long time ago. As for original helmer Terry Zwigoff, don't count on him returning behind the camera.

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    Celebrities Question J.J. Abrams About Star Wars & More

    Lena Dunham, Katie Couric, George Lucas, and more celebrities at Vanity Fair's New Establishment Summit ask J.J. Abrams anything they want--including a lot of burning questions about Star Wars and Lost.



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    Famke Janssen Joins This Is Your Death

    THR is reporting Josh Duhamel and Famke Janssen have signed on to star in Giancarlo Esposito's directorial project, the satirical drama This Is Your Death.

    Esposito is an Emmy nominated actor known for his roles in Breaking Bad and the recently released The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials. He's stepping behind the camera to direct This is Your Death, which is focused on a reality show that has contestants ending their lives for the audience’s enjoyment.

    Duhamel will play Adam Rogers, a game show host who is driven to keep ratings up, and egged on by network executive Ilana Katz (Janssen). Along with helming, Esposito will star as Mason Washington, a man who is struggling to keep his family afloat.

    The original script was written by Kenny Yakkel and revised by Noah Pink. Principal photography is slated to begin in Vancouver in November.

    “This is Your Death is relevant at a time when people are looking to be more connected to each other, yet seem to be more connected to their cell phones, computers & TV sets," says Esposito. "It seems evident that we have outsourced our compassion and outsourced our empathy. We find ourselves riveted to our television sets, viewing the reality of our existence through a scripted vision of who we really are.”

    Esposito is also producing the indie along with Lawreen Yakkel, and Dobré Films' Christopher D’Elia & Michael Klein. The film will be fully financed and produced in association with Great Point Media. Robert Halmi Jr and Jim Reeve of Great Point Media are executive producing.

    ICM Partners is handling domestic rights while Great Point Media reps all rights outside of North America.

    This is Your Death will be Esposito’s second foray into feature directing, following the 2007 drama Gospel Hill, which starred Esposito alongside Danny Glover, Samuel L Jackson and Angela Bassett. As an actor, his upcoming films include Jodie Foster’s Money Monster, Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book and James Franco’s The Long Home. He's repped by ICM Partners, Thruline and Jackoway Tyerman.

    Duhamel's past credits include Safe Haven, New Year’s Eve and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. His upcoming projects include Lost in the Sun and the Hulu mini-series 11/22/66. Duhamel is repped by ICM Partners & John Carrabino Management.

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    Win Tickets To See The Importance Of Being Earnest In Roseville

    Win Tickets To See The Importance of Being Earnest on November 3rd In Roseville.

    Fathom Events and More2Screen are delighted to present the highly acclaimed revival of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, from London’s West End! This marvelous one-night event will take place on Tuesday, November 3rd in select cinemas nationwide.

    Considered Oscar Wilde’s best work, The Importance of Being Earnest, A Trivial Comedy for Serious People, has been making audiences laugh since it debuted in London in 1895. With hilarious farce and witty dialogue, this exhilarating masterpiece is a true crowd pleaser.



    See how to win tickets after the Jump...

    Eamil us at giveaways@sandwichjohnfilms.com
    Subject-The Importance of Being Earnest
    Full Name and email address.

    Set in Victorian England, Wilde’s classic satirical comedy follows two bachelor friends, who create fake identities in an attempt to court two delightful young ladies. As things begin to go awry with their master plan, the gentlemen must grapple with the uproarious consequences of their deception. Hilarity ensues as aristocratic attitudes, romance, fortunes, double lives, and honor collide in this clever tale.

    One of Britain’s most respected actors, David Suchet, leads the stellar West End cast in this eternally popular play. Don’t miss this one-night opportunity to experience the stunning production and celebrate the 120th anniversary of this theatrical treasure.

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    New Trailer For ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: THE ROAD CHIP

    New Regency and 20th Century Fox have debuted the NEW trailer for the upcoming animated film, ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: THE ROAD CHIP. The Munks are growing up, but something unexpected is going down! Check out the new trailer and see Alvin, Simon, and Theodore hit the road by land, by sea, and air to do what ever it takes to get to Miami in their latest adventure

    ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: THE ROAD CHIP hits theaters everywhere December 18, 2015!

    Watch the trailer after the Jump...



    Through a series of misunderstandings, Alvin, Simon and Theodore come to believe that Dave is going to propose to his new girlfriend in Miami…and dump them. They have three days to get to him and stop the proposal, saving themselves not only from losing Dave but possibly from gaining a terrible stepbrother.

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    HELLO, MY NAME IS DORIS Trailer Starring Sally Field

    Roadside Attractions will release HELLO, MY NAME IS DORIS in theaters March 11, 2016

    After a lifetime of being overlooked and ignored, a woman of a certain age finds her world turned upside down by a handsome new co-worker and a self-help seminar that inspires her to take a chance on love in Hello, My Name is Doris, a witty and compassionate late-life coming-of-age-story.

    When Doris Miller (Sally Field) meets John Fremont (Max Greenfield), her company’s hip new art director, sparks fly—at least for Doris. Her first encounter with true romance (outside of the pages of a novel) convinces Doris that she and the mostly unaware John are meant for each other. In the cluttered house she shared with her late mother, Doris mines the Internet for information on her one-and-only, guided by the 13-year-old granddaughter of her best pal Roz (Tyne Daly).

    Watch the trailer after the Jump...



    When Doris begins showing up at John’s regular haunts, she wins over his Williamsburg friends with her eclectic vintage wardrobe, quirky naiveté and unironic enthusiasm for their rooftop knitting circle. Her new life brings Doris a thrilling perspective, but also creates a rift between her and her longtime friends and family, who believe she’s making a fool of herself over a guy half her age. Eager for all the experiences she has missed out on, Doris throws caution to the wind and follows her heart for the very first time.

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    #INSIDEOUT Short “Riley’s First Date?"

    INSIDE OUT releases on Blu-ray 3D™, Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and On Demand November 3 (Already available on Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere since October 13) And includes an extensive line-up of bonus features as well as an all-new animated short, “Riley’s First Date?"



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    #DIRTYGRANDPA Trailer & Teaser Poster

    Prepare to see Zac Efron and Robert De Niro as you’ve never seen them before…

    Check out the new Trailer and Teaser Poster, just released from the upcoming comedy DIRTY GRANDPA. From director Dan Mazer and writer John Phillips, Julianne Hough, Aubrey Plaza, Dermot Mulroney and Adam Pally co-star in the new film about an uptight corporate attorney [Efron] tricked into driving his foul-mouthed grandfather [De Niro] to Daytona Beach, FL to loosen him up. Buckle-up for the ultimate road trip, coming to theaters January 2016!

    Watch the trailer after the Jump...



    Jason Kelly [Zac Efron] is one week away from marrying his boss’s uber-controlling daughter, putting him on the fast track for a partnership at the law firm. However, when the straight-laced Jason is tricked into driving his foul-mouthed grandfather, Dick [Robert De Niro], to Daytona for spring break, his pending nuptials are suddenly in jeopardy. Between riotous frat parties, bar fights, and an epic night of karaoke, Dick is on a quest to live his life to the fullest and bring Jason along for the ride. Ultimately, on the wildest journey of their lives, “dirty” Grandpa and his uptight grandson discover they can learn from one another and form the bond they never had.

    This outlandish comedy also stars Julianne Hough, Aubrey Plaza, Dermot Mulroney and Adam Pally.

    Cast: Robert De Niro, Zac Efron, Aubrey Plaza, Zoey Deutch, Julianne Hough, Jason Mantzoukas, Danny Glover, Adam Pally, and Dermot Mulroney
    Directed by: Dan Mazer
    Written by: John Phillips
    Produced by: Barry Josephson, Bill Block, Michael Simkin, Jason Barrett

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    Official Poster For A WAR

    Directed and written by Tobias Lindholm (A HIJACKING, THE HUNT) Starring Pilou Asbæk, Tuva Novotny, Dar Salim and Søren Malling

    Company commander Claus M. Pedersen (Pilou Asbæk) and his men are stationed in an Afghan province. Meanwhile back in Denmark Claus' wife Maria (Tuva Novotny) is trying to hold everyday life together with a husband at war and three children missing their father. During a routine mission, the soldiers are caught in heavy crossfire and in order to save his men, Claus makes a decision that has grave consequences for him - and his family back home.

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    Win Tickets To An Advance Screening For #SPECTRE In Phoenix

    Win Tickets To An Advance Screening For SPECTRE on November 4th at 7:00 PM In Phoenix.

    A cryptic message from the past sends James Bond (Daniel Craig) on a rogue mission to Mexico City and eventually Rome, where he meets Lucia Sciarra (Monica Bellucci), the beautiful and forbidden widow of an infamous criminal. Bond infiltrates a secret meeting and uncovers the existence of the sinister organisation known as SPECTRE.

    Make sure to LIKE SandwichJohnFilms on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for all your entertainment news and to be to notified about our upcoming Advance Screenings. Also make sure to subscribe and download our Podcast



    See how to win tickets after the Jump...

    Click HERE to get your tickets.

    DISCLAIMER: ARRIVE EARLY! SEATING IS FIRST-COME, FIRST-SERVED, EXCEPT FOR MEMBERS OF THE REVIEWING PRESS. THEATER IS OVERBOOKED TO ENSURE A FULL HOUSE. THEATER IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR OVERBOOKING. THIS PASS DOES NOT GUARANTEE ADMISSION AND MUST BE SURRENDERED UPON DEMAND. NO ONE WILL BE ADMITTED WITHOUT A TICKET AND ONLY REVIEWING PRESS WILL BE ADMITTED AFTER THE SCREENING BEGINS. Duplicate passes will not be accepted. Screening passes are non transferable. This ticket is NOT for resale. Reselling of tickets is strictly prohibited and punishable by law. All those found in violation will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. MPAA - No Recording This screening will be monitored for unauthorized recording. By attending, you agree not to bring any audio and/or visual recording device including laptop computers into the theater and you consent to physical search of have against you. Unauthorized recording will be reported to law enforcement and may subject you to criminal and civil liability (including damages up to $150,000). *This includes, by way of example only, smart phones and your belongings and person for such device. If you attempt to enter with a recording device, you will be denied admission. If you attempt to use a recording device*, you consent to your Immediate removal from the theater and forfeiture of the device.

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    Win Tickets To An Advance Screening For #SPECTRE In Las Vegas

    Win Tickets To An Advance Screening For SPECTRE on November 4th at 7:00 PM In Las Vegas.

    A cryptic message from the past sends James Bond (Daniel Craig) on a rogue mission to Mexico City and eventually Rome, where he meets Lucia Sciarra (Monica Bellucci), the beautiful and forbidden widow of an infamous criminal. Bond infiltrates a secret meeting and uncovers the existence of the sinister organisation known as SPECTRE.

    Make sure to LIKE SandwichJohnFilms on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for all your entertainment news and to be to notified about our upcoming Advance Screenings. Also make sure to subscribe and download our Podcast



    See how to win tickets after the Jump...

    Click HERE to get your tickets.

    DISCLAIMER: ARRIVE EARLY! SEATING IS FIRST-COME, FIRST-SERVED, EXCEPT FOR MEMBERS OF THE REVIEWING PRESS. THEATER IS OVERBOOKED TO ENSURE A FULL HOUSE. THEATER IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR OVERBOOKING. THIS PASS DOES NOT GUARANTEE ADMISSION AND MUST BE SURRENDERED UPON DEMAND. NO ONE WILL BE ADMITTED WITHOUT A TICKET AND ONLY REVIEWING PRESS WILL BE ADMITTED AFTER THE SCREENING BEGINS. Duplicate passes will not be accepted. Screening passes are non transferable. This ticket is NOT for resale. Reselling of tickets is strictly prohibited and punishable by law. All those found in violation will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. MPAA - No Recording This screening will be monitored for unauthorized recording. By attending, you agree not to bring any audio and/or visual recording device including laptop computers into the theater and you consent to physical search of have against you. Unauthorized recording will be reported to law enforcement and may subject you to criminal and civil liability (including damages up to $150,000). *This includes, by way of example only, smart phones and your belongings and person for such device. If you attempt to enter with a recording device, you will be denied admission. If you attempt to use a recording device*, you consent to your Immediate removal from the theater and forfeiture of the device.

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    Ryan Reynolds in Talks To Star In "Truth In Advertising"

    Ryan Reynolds is in final negotiations to star in the dramedy Truth In Advertising with veteran Brit director Roger Michell (Notting Hill) also on board. The Solution Entertainment Group’s co-founders and partners Lisa Wilson and Myles Nestel are financing and producing the film alongside Lynn Hendee (Ender’s Game) and William Chartoff (Creed).

    John Kenney wrote the screenplay, an adaptation of his acclaimed debut novel of the same name. Filming begins next spring. Reynolds plays Fin Dolan, whose boss asks him to cancel his Christmas vacation to work on an ad campaign. When his best friend announces she has just been proposed to and his estranged father lands in the hospital, Fin begins to wonder why everyone else is moving forward with their lives while he is stuck in neutral.

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    #OPENSEASON Gets Scared Silly On March 8, 2016

    The OPEN SEASON crew are back in action next year when Sony Pictures Animation’s fourth installment – OPEN SEASON: SCARED SILLY hits Blu-ray, DVD and digital HD platforms MARCH 8, 2016. The direct-to-video mystery adventure brings back Elliot, Boog and all of the beloved woodland creatures from the previous Open Season series. The latest release for one of the most successful animated franchises, is a heartwarming tale incorporating good values and laugh-out-loud fun for all ages.

    The Blu-ray™ and DVD releases will be packed with bonus materials including all-new featurettes, bloopers, a director’s commentary track, and an Inside Sony Pictures Animation profile of director David Feiss.



    In celebration of Open Season’s 10th Anniversary, Sony Pictures Animation will present an all-new animated movie, OPEN SEASON: SCARED SILLY, on Blu-ray™ Combo Pack, DVD and Digital HD March 8th. This national debut, from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, is the latest release for one of the most successful animated franchises to date, bringing back Elliot, Boog and all of the beloved woodland creatures from the previous Open Season series. The fourth installment is a comedic mystery adventure directed by David Feiss (head of story on the original Open Season and creator of the popular TV series Cow and Chicken); produced by John Bush (“The Simpsons”); and featuring computer animation from Rainmaker Entertainment, Inc.

    Says Director Feiss, “My affection for these characters has only grown since we introduced them in Sony Pictures Animation’s first feature. We’re having a lot of fun bringing them back for a new adventure—
    it feels like a big party with old friends.” Most recently, Feiss -- whose prolific career began as a story artist for Hanna-Barbera -- directed four mini-movies for the home entertainment release of Sony Pictures Animation’s Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2, entitled Steve’s First Bath, Super Manny, Attack Of The 50 Ft. Gummy Bear and Earl Scouts.

    OPEN SEASON: SCARED SILLY is a heartwarming tale incorporating good values and laugh-out-loud fun for all ages. The Blu-ray™ and DVD releases will be packed with bonus materials including all-new featurettes, bloopers, a director’s commentary track, and an Inside Sony Pictures Animation profile of director David Feiss. The first featurette, “OPEN SEASON Super Speedy Re-Cap” will give viewers a look back at the previous three films, and some of the most exciting moments of the franchise. “Scaredy Pants: The Fears of OPEN SEASON” will tackle what our favorite characters are truly afraid of! Exclusive to the Blu-ray, “Stepping Into the Spotlight – Mr. Weenie’s Process” gives a glimpse into Mr. Weenie’s trials and tribulations of shooting his most trying scenes for the brand new movie.

    OPEN SEASON: SCARED SILLY features the voice talents of Donny Lucas (Boog), Will Townsend (Elliot & Mr. Weenie), Trevor Devall (Shaw), Kathleen Barr (Edna & Bobbi), Garry Chalk (Ed), and Melissa Sturm (Giselle).

    Synopsis:
    Elliot, Boog and all your favorite woodland creatures are back in a brand new, comedy adventure,
    OPEN SEASON: SCARED SILLY. When a case of mistaken identity leads both humans and animals to believe there is a monstrous werewolf on the prowl in Timberline National Forest, former hunter Shaw seizes on the opportunity to re-open open season. With Shaw on the loose and all the animals at risk, it's now up to Boog, Elliot, and Mr. Weenie to face their fears, track down the elusive werewolf, and get open season closed permanently.

    Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and Digital Extras* include:
    · Stepping into the Spotlight - Mr. Weenie’s Process
    · Blooper and outtakes
    · Scaredy Pants: The Fears of OPEN SEASON: SCARED SILLY

    DVD, Blu-ray™ and Digital Extras* include:
    · OPEN SEASON Super Speedy Re-Cap
    · Feature Commentary with Director David Feiss**
    · Director profile – David Feiss

    * Digital Extras only available with iTunes Extras and Vudu Extras+
    ** Commentary available on physical discs only

    OPEN SEASON: SCARED SILLY has a running time of approximately 80 minutes and is not yet rated.
    Artwork and digital clips are available for download at www.sphepublicity.com.
    Visit Sony Home Entertainment on the Web at www.SonyPictures.com.

    SONY PICTURES HOME ENTERTAINMENT
    Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (SPHE) is a Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) company. Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) is a subsidiary of Sony Entertainment Inc., a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Corporation. SPE's global operations encompass motion picture production, acquisition and distribution; television production, acquisition and distribution; television networks; digital content creation and distribution; operation of studio facilities; and development of new entertainment products, services and technologies. For additional information, go to http://www.sonypictures.com.

    SONY PICTURES ANIMATION
    Sony Pictures Animation produces a variety of animated and family entertainment for audiences around the world. The studio is following its worldwide comedy hits—the record-breaking monster comedies Hotel Transylvania and Hotel Transylvania 2, the hybrid live action/animated blockbusters The Smurfs and The Smurfs 2, and the mouth-watering Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs movies; the fully animated reboot Get Smurfy in March 2017; the inspirational story The Lamb in December 2017; and an animated Spider-Man feature from the minds of directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord in Summer 2018. The studio, in conjunction with Aardman Animations, has produced two critically acclaimed feature films: the CG-animated family comedy Arthur Christmas; and the Academy Award® nominated stop-frame animated high-seas adventure, The Pirates! Band of Misfits. In 2007, Surf's Up also received an Academy Award® nomination for Best Animated Feature Film. The division, whose first feature film Open Season led to a very successful movie franchise including the upcoming Open Season: Scared Silly in Spring 2016, turned 10 in 2012. Sony Pictures Animation is a division of the Sony Pictures Motion Pictures Group.
    · Website: http://www.sonypicturesanimation.com/
    · Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SONYPicturesAnimation
    · Twitter: http://twitter.com/sonyanimation
    · Tumblr: http://sonyanimation.tumblr.com/
    · YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/SonyAnimation

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    Wednesday, October 28, 2015

    Movie Review: 'Bridge of Spies'

    Bridge of Spies adds quick wit and excellent performances to the melancholy age of The Cold War.

    Review by Matt Cummings

    In Steven Spielberg's feel-good Bridge of Spies, the American insurance lawyer Donovan (Tom Hanks) must negotiate to secure the release of spy pilot Francis Gary Powers (Austin Stowell) during the turbulent era of the early 1960's. But in order to do so, Donovan must deliver the Russian spy Abel (Mark Rylance), whom Donovan has recently defended in a lopsided trial. As the Russians complete the barrier between East and West, Donovan faces nearly insurmountable odds and a dwindling timetable to deliver Abel and get his people back into home soil.

    This fourth collaboration between the two Hollywood heavyweights yields fine results, adding another must-see to the growing list of recent and excellent spy films. It lands softly somewhere between Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and James Bond: totally accessible, but missing most of the real negotiations that come with spycraft. Hanks is terrific as always, occupying a fierce position with regard to the US Constitution and the rights of all people, whether they be Russian spies or not. He defends Abel even when all of New York seems against him, encouraging a violent response and indifferent opinions from law enforcement. But Hanks feels like he's rehashing similar roles in Saving Private Ryan; Donovan could be Captain Miller had he survived, or Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks. Hanks is a bowl of hot soup, or macaroni and cheese. You love the feeling of seeing him perform and feel bad if you raise a complaint about eating off this plate numerous times. But Hanks is one of Hollywood's best, and in Bridge he makes Donovan a real figure, one to either be hated or loved depending on where you stood on Communism at the time.

    And while Hanks might receive an Oscar nom just because he's Hanks, Rylance is almost certain to be a front runner for Best Supporting. He occupies Abel with a quiet and steely resolve, never one to overreact or worry about whether 1960's America will curse him for his choices. He and Hanks occupy a witty and perky relationship on screen, both ready to compliment the other instead of trying to outdo the other. That makes for great theater, one in which I found my loyalties slowly moving towards Abel's side but wary of Donovan's plight. That's what Spielberg and Writers Joel and Ethan Cohen bring here, an experience of graying loyalties mixed with sharp humor and solid historical underpinnings.

    Spielberg crafts every image in Spies with full knowledge of his power, ready and able to wield it either for Donovan or against Abel. Lincoln proved he could handle the heavy historical; Spies proves he can bend it to his will. True, this is "based on a true story" but Spielberg wraps Hanks and company with enough polish and precision to make us question both Donovan's tactics and laud him for his sensibilities. Others - like Donovan's boss (Alan Alda) and the slick East German lawyer Vogel (Sebastian Koch) - move gracefully through their scenes, all led by Spielberg's steady and sure hand.

    In the end, Bridge of Spies keeps Hanks on sure footing and elevates Rylance's swagger, but any real Oscar hopes will surely come based on what's up in November/December. That's where the heavy hitter play, and much like Donovan, Spies might be content to make its deal and bow out before things get really serious.

    Bridge of Spies is rated Rated PG-13 for some violence and brief strong language and has a runtime of 141 minutes.

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