Sunday, February 25, 2018
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Movie News

valerian baywatch justice league Critics Pick the Worst Films of 2017

From left, ‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,’ ‘Baywatch’ and ‘Justice League’
Courtesy of STX Films; Courtesy of Paramount Pictures; Courtesy of Warner Bros.

From inept tentpoles to an auteur misfire, laugh-free comedies to a particularly exploitative disaster flick, these were the worst movies of the year.

 

bleeding steel Bleeding Steel (Ji Qi Zhi Xue) (2017) Movie Review

Jackie Chan rounds out a busy 2017 in Chinese director Leo Zhang’s partly Sydney-set action-thriller.

With Bleeding Steel, Jackie Chan literally wraps up 2017 by revisiting every archetype he has dabbled with during the past 12 months. As an upstanding cop trying to protect his daughter and also save the world, Chan’s protagonist here is at once a comical vigilante (à la Railroad Tigers), globetrotting fighter (Kung Fu Yoga) and a grieving father (The Foreigner). All that is packaged in a futuristic narrative peopled by a mad scientist and mutants, a backdrop shared with Reset, the sci-fi actioner on which Chan was credited as a producer.

Having made his directorial debut in 2012 with Chrysanthemum to the Beast, a gangster flick starring Chan’s son Jaycee, musician-turned-filmmaker Leo Zhang struggles to maintain a coherent tone with such inconsistent characterizations — not just the protagonist’s, but the supporting roles as well. Spiced up with moments of crude humor (bared brassieres and burned backsides, for example) and extreme violence (someone gets shot in the head, another has his heart ripped out of his body), the screenplay disintegrates as the plot careens forward with ever more inexplicable turns.

Bleeding Steel is hardly groundbreaking. Then again, by playing a rewritten version of Chan’s theme song to the 1985 film Police Story over the actor’s trademark end-credit gag reel, both the director and star probably had the idea of making a throwback all along. Fans of Chan and derring-do actioners will have a lot to marvel at, such as the tautly choreographed shootout at the beginning of the film and the skirmish on top of the Sydney Opera House. It’s a spectacle that will also go down well with Chinese audiences seeking some festive entertainment during the lucrative run-up to the New Year holidays.

The film begins with special forces agent Lin (Chan) speeding his way across town, split between his desire to bid a final farewell to his ailing daughter and an order to escort bioengineering expert James (Kim Gyngell) to a high-security facility. This being a Jackie Chan film, Lin naturally foregoes the personal in order to fulfill his professional duties. It’s a decision that leads to deaths aplenty: Lin’s daughter’s at the hospital, of course, but also most of his team at the hands of Andre (Callan Mulvey), a mutant warrior hunting down James for the immortality serum he has invented.

Flash forward 13 years, with the narrative relocated to Sydney in 2020 and Lin working odd jobs in order to remain close to a Chinese university student named Nancy (cellist-turned-actor Nana Ouyang). It’s hardly a spoiler to reveal who she is, given that she’s shown dreaming of James and his medical experiments in just her second scene. While Nancy struggles to contend with these suppressed memories, people begin to appear because of them: a bumbling rogue called Leeson (Show Lo, The Mermaid) is soon followed by Andre’s henchwoman (Tess Haubrich).

Cue endless chases along Sydney’s streets and inside (and atop) the Australian city’s buildings, followed by more set-pieces — including showdowns first with the villainess and then with Andre himself — filmed in Taipei, here masquerading as the fictional city of “Xingan.” Not that the geography — or the science, or the psychology — matters anyway. Bleeding Steel is all about old-school thrills, and Zhang has delivered a wide range of them, from cafeteria catfights to expansive pyrotechnics — with not just one but two crotch-kicking gags thrown in for good measure.

U.S. distributor: Swen Asia, WME-IMG China
Production companies: Heyi Pictures, Perfect Village Entertainment
Cast: Jackie Chan, Show Lo, Nana Ouyang, Erica Xia-Hou, Callan Mulvey, Tess Haubrich, Kim Gyngell
Director: Leo Zhang
Screenwriter: Leo Zhang, Erica Xia-Hou, Siwei Cui
Producers: Javier Zhang, Paul Currie, Aileen Li
Executive producers: Kailuo Liu
Directors of photography: Tony Cheung, Jian Liwei
Production designer: Huang Mei-ching
Costume designer: Hsu Li-wen
Music: Peng Fei
Editors: Kong Chi-leung, Leo Zhang
Casting: Nikki Barrett

In Mandarin and English
110 minutes

bright Bright (2017) Movie Review

Bright
2017 ? Thriller film/Fantasy ? 1h 57m
Initial release: 22 December 2017 (USA)
Director: David Ayer
Budget: 90 million USD
Screenplay: Max Landis
Music director: Junkie XL, Dave Sardy

Genre mashups can be fun! In theory, the idea of a gritty police drama set in a modern-day America where orcs, elves, and humans coexist could be enjoyable! As a general rule, for a genre mashup to succeed, a film has to get at least one of those genres right. Netflix’s Bright, which bills itself as part buddy-cop movie, part lavish fantasy, does neither justice, resulting in lazy nonsense that’s too silly to be good and too self-serious to be any fun.

Directed by David Ayer (Suicide Squad) and written by Max Landis (Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency), Bright centers on L.A.P.D. officers Ward (Will Smith) and Jakoby (Joel Edgerton). Ward is human, and Jakoby is the force’s first orc cop, a job that’s made him an untrustworthy outsider to his colleagues and a traitor to his fellow orcs. Ward, to his annoyance, has been partnered with the so-called “diversity hire,” and after an early encounter with an orc criminal goes south, Ward is left with some serious resentment toward his new partner.

But before they can hash out their problems, the two are swept up into a mystical conspiracy involving a secret elvish society and a magic wand. The highly-coveted wands are extremely rare and powerful and can only be used by highly-specialized magic users referred to as “Brights.” Everyone else who touches one explodes. (It’s not as exciting as it sounds.) When Ward and Jakoby get their hands on one, they find themselves on the run from their own colleagues, the feds, several L.A. gangs, and an evil, all-powerful elf woman played by Noomi Rapace — all while trying to also protect a good, all-powerful elf woman played by Lucy Fry.

As the well-intentioned Jakoby, Edgerton is actually fairly charming under all the prosthetics and makeup, and despite the film’s nonsensical plot, you can’t help but root for his big-hearted orc. Less successful are Bright’s ham-handed attempts to draw parallels between racial discrimination and magical discrimination. Perhaps there’s actual commentary on racial injustice buried under all the one-liners and shootouts, but it’s hard to take Bright seriously when it opens with Smith stomping on a fairy who got into his bird feeder, yelling, “Fairy lives don’t matter today!”

There are hints of a larger, more interesting world here — at one point a dragon drifts over the L.A. skyline — but Bright is more interested in its surface-level racial metaphors and B-movie fantasy tropes, and the whole thing feels like half-hearted fan fiction dreamed up after watching The Lord of the Rings for the first time. There’s a MacGuffin to be found, a prophecy to be fulfilled, and some mysterious, boring dark lord to thwart. Bright’s female characters are especially half-baked, and Fry’s Tikka is essentially a babbling redux of Milla Jovovich in The Fifth Element or less-interesting Summer Glau in Firefly. Even the production design is uninspired: You’d think that a story with strange creatures and secret societies would warrant some clever visual world-building, but despite its name, Bright takes place almost entirely in dimly lit, abandoned buildings. Oh, and why not throw in a strip club shootout, too, because a movie with orcs, elves, and magic can’t think of a more innovative place to set an action scene?

Bright is reportedly Netflix’s most expensive original film ever, and according to Bloomberg, a sequel has already been ordered. In theory, a modern-day fantasy setting sounds like a perfect franchise starter, and with better execution, it could’ve made for a launchpad to all sorts of sequels and spinoffs. In reality, Ayer and Landis’s world is so dull and ill-conceived that few will want to spend any additional time there. It’s a world of magic that lacks any of its own.

new releases 17 movies to see (or not) over Christmas 2017

Ahh, Christmas. A time of holiday lights, presents under the tree, and arguing with your extended family about what movie you’re going to go see.

This year, theaters will be packed with everything from family-friendly comedies and sci-fi blockbusters to feel-good crowdpleasers and awards bait. Whether you’re looking to kill a few hours after Christmas dinner or just trying to escape your weird cousins who are visiting, we’ve rounded up all the biggest new releases in theaters and streaming.

NEW RELEASES

Molly’s Game

Starring: Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner
Director: Aaron Sorkin
Rating: R

Review: “With a gift as unique as Sorkin’s, it was always only a matter of when — not if — he would try his hand at directing one of his own scripts. Still, who could’ve predicted that he’d be such a natural behind the camera the first time around? Aside from a few misdemeanor writerly indulgences, Sorkin’s fast-and-funny new morality tale, Molly’s Game, doesn’t feel like a directorial debut. It feels like an assured story told by a seasoned pro. Sorkin grafts his signature staccato lines onto the true story of Molly Bloom — a former Olympic skier who would end up channeling her iron will into more illicit ventures. Namely, running one of the country’s biggest and most exclusive underground poker games. That is, until the feds finally crashed the party. Sorkin, who’s always seemed more comfortable with alpha male types, was smart (or exceedingly lucky) to cast Jessica Chastain as his heroine, Molly. The film is easily the best showcase she’s had since Zero Dark Thirty.”

Where to watch: In theaters Dec. 25

Who to watch with: Your cool older cousin who taught you how to play poker.

All the Money in the World

Starring: Michelle Williams, Christopher Plummer, Mark Wahlberg
Director: Ridley Scott
Rating: R

Review: “It’s hard to say of course how [original star Kevin] Spacey would have filled the role without actually seeing him onscreen (aside from the fact that he did look odd in the heavy aging prosthetics shown in the initial trailers, like a refugee from a Dick Tracy villain camp circa 1990). But there’s none of the cold Keyser Söze snake in the 88-year-old Plummer’s performance; he’s pitiless, without question, but pitiable too: a lonely old man clinging to things — estates, objets, Old Master paintings — because he can’t trust a human heart, least of all his own. It’s already earned him a Golden Globe nomination (Williams received one as well, as did Scott, for best director), which may be the industry’s way of recognizing an achievement in logistics as much as in quality filmmaking. At its best though, Money makes you forget all that and surrender to a story that might be almost too strange to believe, if it wasn’t entirely true.”

Where to watch: In theaters Dec. 25

Who to watch with: Your grandpa who, unlike J. Paul Getty, would pay a lot of money for your ransom if you were kidnapped.

Phantom Thread

Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Vicky Krieps, Lesley Manville
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Rating: R

Review: “Now that the movie is finally here, it can now called for what it actually is: the new Paul Thomas Anderson-Daniel Day-Lewis film that, despite all of the anticipation, is a little underwhelming. Don’t get me wrong — like all of Anderson’s films (the best of which remain Boogie Nights and Magnolia), Phantom Thread is meticulously crafted, visually sumptuous, impeccably acted, and very, very directorly. But until the final act, this straight-jacketed character study is also pretty tame stuff — emotionally remote, a bit too studied, and far easier to admire than surrender to and swoon over. It seems to exist under glass.”

Where to watch: In theaters Dec. 25

Who to watch with: Your fashion-obsessed older sister.

Pitch Perfect 3

Starring: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow
Director: Trish Sie
Rating: PG-13

Review: “All things must come to an aca-end. And so after five years, three outings, and an uncountable number of pitch puns, the house that multipart harmonies built is signing off — and if its swan song sometimes feels more like a wild goose chase, plotwise (or maybe a day-drunk penguin), the sheer nutty charisma of its sprawling cast still carries the series out on a pretty sweet high note.”

Where to watch: In theaters

Who to watch with: Your old college friends you haven’t seen in a while.

The Greatest Showman

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, Zendaya
Director: Michael Gracey
Rating: PG

Review: “First-time director Michael Gracey, working from a script by Jenny Bicks (Sex & the City) and Bill Condon (Chicago, Gods and Monsters, Dreamgirls), plunges ahead in a giddy rush, carving out ample opportunities for his stars to sing the soaring rock-opera compositions penned by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the gifted musical duo behind La La Land and Dear Evan Hansen. What he doesn’t make much room for is subtlety; every emotion is signaled to the peanut gallery, every story beat landed with a foot stomp and a handclap.”

Where to watch: In theaters

Who to watch with: Your 12-year-old cousin who wants to be a Broadway star when she grows up.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, Kevin Hart, Jack Black
Director: Jake Kasdan
Rating: PG-13

Review: “Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: A group of high school kids representing different archetypes (the brain, the princess, the basket case, and so on) meet in detention and, a few hours later, discover that they’re not so different after all. Now stop me if you’ve heard this one before: A seemingly harmless game sucks its players into a magically perilous jungle world of wild flora and rampaging animals, ultimately leading to valuable life lessons. Congratulations, you’ve not only seen 1985’s The Breakfast Club and 1995’s Jumanji, you’ve also already seen the latest Hollywood intellectual-property retread/reboot no one knew they were asking for. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a film as busy as a mediocre video game and as familiar and by-the-numbers as a dozen other brand-recognition titles that have recently trundled off the Tinseltown widget assembly line.”

Where to watch: In theaters

Who to watch with: Your sibling, who was traumatized by the CG animals in the original 1995 movie.

Downsizing

Starring: Matt Damon, Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau
Director: Alexander Payne
Rating: R

Review: “Director Alexander Payne (NebraskaElectionAbout Schmidt) specializes in a kind of deadpan heartland absurdity, but he’s never delved into anything nearly as fantastical as this. Though the little-people terrarium of Leisureland may not be what Paul had hoped, it’s also where he learns to stop worrying and love the small, thanks to his hedonist neighbor (Christoph Waltz) and a left-field romance with Vietnamese dissident Ngoc (Hong Chau, bossy and funny and refreshingly oblivious to lip gloss). The result is a dadaist swirl of satire, pie-eyed whimsy, and speculative futurism — like Gulliver’s Travels through the wrong end of a telescope.”

Where to watch: In theaters

Who to watch with: Your Alexander-Payne-loving cousin, who’s watched Election a thousand times.

Hostiles

Starring: Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike, Wes Studi
Director: Scott Cooper
Rating: R

Review: “Shot in New Mexico and Colorado, Hostiles is visually stunning. And its themes of blind hatred and eventual understanding between the races is reminiscent of Dances With Wolves, minus the preachiness. Still, the biggest draw is watching Bale deliver another master class in invisible acting. Every gesture feels authentic. You immediately understand this spiritually spent man — for better and worse. Westerns can be a tough nut to crack, but Hostiles may be the finest example of the genre since Unforgiven.

Where to watch: In theaters

Who to watch with: Your dad, who always complains about how nobody makes any good Westerns anymore.

The Post

Starring: Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Sarah Paulson
Director: Steven Spielberg
Rating: PG-13

Review: “Steven Spielberg’s The Post is set in 1971, yet it couldn’t be more about 2017 if it tried. There are period-specific sideburns, mustard-colored shirts, and a screen choked with cigarette smoke, but it’s a timely wake-up call about speaking truth to power in the ‘fake news’ era.

Movies, of course, take a long time to gestate, and when this rousing ink-stained procedural about The Washington Post’s race to publish the Pentagon Papers was being written, the 2016 election wasn’t yet over. Spielberg caught a lucky break — if you can call anything related to that election lucky. The message of the movie is so obvious it’s a shame it needs repeating: namely, that an adversarial press is essential to democracy.” B+

Where to watch: In theaters

Who to watch with: Anyone who likes Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. (So, everyone.)

STILL IN THEATERS

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Starring: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Mark Hamill
Director: Rian Johnson
Rating: PG-13

Review: “There are a handful of truly spectacular moments in The Last Jedi—some as visually sumptuous and others as emotionally poignant and raw as anything in the intergalactic ring cycle so far: The sight of Rebel X-wing fighters emerging from light speed and skidding to a halt; a kamikaze crash rendered in giddy, gasp-inducing super slo-motion; a vertiginous, ground-scraping dogfight on a salt-mining planet that kicks up plumes of velvet-cake red dust. These, along with a few touching reunions and farewells from beloved characters that some of us have known like family for 40 years, will go down as instant classics that will be catnip for fans young and old. That said, I’d stop short of calling director Rian Johnson’s undeniably impressive initiation into the Star Wars fold the masterpiece that some desperately want it to be. The film simply drags too much in the middle. Somewhere in the film’s 152-minute running time is an amazing 90-minute movie.”

Where to watch: In theaters

Who to watch with: Your nerdy friends, who won’t mind seeing it a second (or third) time.

Coco

Starring: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach, Renee Victor
Director: Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina (co-director)
Rating: PG

Review: “Mamas don’t let their babies grow up to be mariachis. That’s one thing Miguel (voiced by newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) knows for sure: Ever since his great-great-grandfather abandoned the family decades ago to pursue la vida musical, every descendant has shunned both his tainted memory and any stray melody unwise enough to drift past a window. They are shoemakers now, not dreamers. But Miguel, a tenacious 12-year-old with a single dimple in his cheek and an unhushable song in his heart, can’t help it; his fingers ache for a guitar. And like every hero on a quest, he will find one. Though unlike most — especially in the shiny world of Pixar, whose Technicolor critters, toy cowboys, and anthropomorphized race cars often seemed to come in every shade but brown — he is also proudly, unmistakably Mexican.”

Where to watch: In theaters everywhere

Who to watch with: Your young nieces and nephews (who hopefully won’t judge you if you get a little teary).

Ferdinand

Starring: John Cena, Kate McKinnon, Gina Rodriguez
Director: Carlos Saldanha
Rating: PG

Review: “Munro Leaf’s children’s book The Story of Ferdinand is a bona fide classic. With its charming drawings and kid-friendly prose, Ferdinand was an instant hit upon publication in 1936. (It also became politically controversial during the Spanish Civil War and World War II, thanks to its pacifist message, and Hitler famously banned it.) The story is simple: Ferdinand is a strong but peaceful bull who has no interest in bullfighting and would rather spend his days sitting under his favorite cork tree, smelling the flowers. Because of his seemingly fierce appearance, Ferdinand is taken to Madrid and put in the ring to face a matador — only he refuses to fight.

Walt Disney released a short, animated adaptation in 1938, but Ferdinand is making his true big-screen debut now, with John Cena voicing the titular bull in an animated adaptation. Leaf’s book is less than 800 words long, so understandably, director Carlos Saldanha had to add some padding to create a full-length feature. Unfortunately, Ferdinand buries the original story’s message under frenetic action scenes and grating sidekicks, turning a classic tale into just another flat animated comedy.”

Where to watch: In theaters

Who to watch with: Your young nieces and nephews, when their parents could use a break.

Lady Bird

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Beanie Feldstein, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet, Tracy Letts, Lois Smith
Director: Greta Gerwig
Rating: R

Review: “Gerwig doesn’t trap her protagonist in the oblivious underage bubble that most coming-of-age dramedies inhabit; Lady Bird’s parents, played by Tracy Letts and Laurie Metcalf, are fully formed humans with their own deep flaws and vulnerabilities. Their messiness is hereditary but it’s also a gift, the wind beneath their weird little Bird’s wings.” A-

Where to watch: In theaters now

Who to watch with: Your mom, obviously.

The Shape of Water

Starring: Sally Hawkins, Doug Jones, Michael Shannon
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Rating: R

Rreview: “If this all sounds bizarre, well, it is. But it’s also poignant, tender, funny, romantic, and flat-out breathtaking in its shoot-the-moon ambition. There’s even a Busby Berkeley dance-fantasia number! If you’re willing to go with this fishy fairy tale, The Shape of Water is a haunting sci-fi love story like nothing you’ve ever seen before — or dreamed that you ever wanted to see. It’s pure movie magic.” A

Where to watch: In theaters

Who to watch with: Your significant other, because nothing says romance like a movie about a mute cleaning lady and her fish-monster beau.

Darkest Hour

Starring: Gary Oldman, Kristen Scott Thomas, Ben Mendelsohn
Director: Joe Wright
Rating: PG-13

Review: “I’ll be honest, Oldman hasn’t been this good for a very long time. To be even more honest, he’s starred in a lot of junk in the past decade. But remember, this is the actor who played Sid Vicious in Sid and Nancy and was so hypnotic (and often scary) in Prick Up Your EarsState of GraceJFKThe ProfessionalTrue RomanceImmortal Beloved, and The Contender. It’s both a relief and revelation to see him get the chance to swing for the fences again.” B+

Where to watch: In theaters

Who to watch with: Your dad, who loves World War II history and loved Dunkirk.

The Disaster Artist

Starring: James Franco, Dave Franco, Seth Rogen
Director: James Franco
Rating: R

Review: “Isn’t it better to fail spectacularly than to never try at all? Tommy Wiseau’s 2003 magnum opus, The Room — an accidental cult classic once dubbed “the Citizen Kane of bad movies” — was the hard-won sum of his Hollywood dreams; it was also possibly the best worst thing to happen to cinema since Ed Wood picked up a camera. And it feels only appropriate that James Franco, an actor and director for whom weirdness is next to godliness, would be the one to tell his story.”

Where to watch: In theaters

Who to watch with: Your friend who thinks he has a great Tommy Wiseau impression.

STREAMING

Bright

Starring: Will Smith, Joel Edgerton, Noomi Rapace
Director: David Ayer
Rating: Unrated

Review: “Genre mashups can be fun! In theory, the idea of a gritty police drama set in a modern-day America where orcs, elves, and humans coexist could be enjoyable! As a general rule, for a genre mashup to succeed, a film has to get at least one of those genres right. Netflix’s Bright, which bills itself as part buddy-cop movie, part lavish fantasy, does neither justice, resulting in lazy nonsense that’s too silly to be good and too self-serious to be any fun.”

Where to watch: Streaming on Netflix

Who to watch with: On second thought, maybe you better put on Netflix’s A Christmas Prince instead.

g.i. joe retaliation Paramount Pictures Sets G.I. Joe, Dungeons & Dragons Release Dates

Courtesy of Photofest
‘G.I. Joe: Retaliation’ (2013)
Paramount on Monday played the release dating game, with the studio carving out territory for four tentpoles.

A film simply titled G.I. Joe will hit theaters March 27, 2020. The studio previously released two films based on the Hasbro property: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009) and G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013). The year 2020 will apparently be a Hasbro year, as the studio has also set Micronauts to open seven months later on Oct. 16, 2020. The toy property follows a race of alien warriors from an alternate dimension that’s microscopic. Additionally, Paramount has carved out a July 23, 2021, date for Dungeons & Dragons, based on the tabletop role-playing game, and set aside Oct. 1, 2021, for an untitled Hasbro event film.

In 2015, The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that Paramount and Hasbro’s Allspark Pictures were building a shared universe based on five Hasbro concepts — G.I. Joe, Micronauts, Visionaries, M.A.S.K. (Mobile Armored Strike Kommand) and ROM, assembling a writers room to hammer out the details. The two G.I. Joe films earned a combined $678.2 million worldwide.

The studio has had massive commercial success with its Transformers series, which has earned $4.3 billion worldwide. Its latest installment, Transformers: The Last Knight, opened this year and garnered $605.4 million worldwide, the lowest of the five films. Paramount has the spinoff Bumblebee due out Dec. 21, 2018.

As for Dungeons & Dragons, Jeremy Irons appeared in an ill-fated 2000 adaptation for New Line Cinema. More recently, the property became embroiled in a legal battle over who had the rights to make a film based on it, with a 2015 settlement appearing to pave the way for Warner Bros. to move ahead with a long-gestating project. As recently as last year, Warners was developing a project, with Ansel Elgort in early talks to star. However, has confirmed the property is no longer with the studio.

Warner Bros. is no longer developing a Dungeons & Dragons movie.

thor  ragnarok The Mega Oscars: The 141 Scores Eligible for Academy Award Nominations 2017

Courtesy of Marvel Studios
‘Thor: Ragnarok’

The five nominees will be announced Jan. 23.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Monday announced that 141 scores from eligible feature-length motion pictures released in 2017 are in contention for nominations in the original score category for the 90th Academy Awards.

Members of the music branch will now vote their choices for the best score Oscar, and five scores receiving the highest number of votes will become the five nominees in the category to be announced Jan. 23. The Oscars themselves will take place March 4.

he eligible scores along with their composers are listed below, in alphabetical order by film title:

Alien: Covenant, Jed Kurzel, composer
All I See Is You, Marc Streitenfeld, composer
All the Money in the World, Daniel Pemberton, composer
Annabelle: Creation, Benjamin Wallfisch, composer
Band Aid, Lucius, composer
Battle of the Sexes, Nicholas Britell, composer
Baywatch, Christopher Lennertz, composer
Beauty and the Beast, Alan Menken, composer
The Big Sick, Michael Andrews, composer
Blade Runner 2049, Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans Zimmer, composers
The Book of Henry, Michael Giacchino, composer
Born in China, Barnaby Taylor, composer
The Boss Baby, Hans Zimmer and Steve Mazzaro, composers
Boston, Jeff Beal, composer
Brad’s Status, Mark Mothersbaugh, composer
Brawl in Cell Block 99, Jeff Herriott and S. Craig Zahler, composers
The Breadwinner, Mychael Danna and Jeff Danna, composers
Breathe, Nitin Sawhney, composer
Brigsby Bear, David Wingo, composer
Brimstone & Glory, Dan Romer and Benh Zeitlin, composers
Captain Underpants The First Epic Movie, Theodore Shapiro, composer
Cars 3, Randy Newman, composer
The Circle, Danny Elfman, composer
Coco, Michael Giacchino, composer
Cries From Syria, Martin Tillman, composer
A Cure for Wellness, Benjamin Wallfisch, composer
Darkest Hour, Dario Marianelli, composer
Despicable Me 3, Heitor Pereira, composer
The Disaster Artist, Dave Porter, composer
A Dog’s Purpose, Rachel Portman, composer
Downsizing, Rolfe Kent, composer
Drawing Home, Ben Holiday, composer
Dunkirk, Hans Zimmer, composer
Earth: One Amazing Day, Alex Heffes, composer
A Fantastic Woman, Matthew Herbert, composer
The Fate of the Furious, Brian Tyler, composer
Father Figures, Rob Simonsen, composer
Ferdinand, John Powell, composer
Fifty Shades Darker, Danny Elfman, composer
Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, J. Ralph, composer
First They Killed My Father, Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders, composers
Get Out, Michael Abels, composer
A Ghost Story, Daniel Hart, composer
Gifted, Rob Simonsen, composer
The Glass Castle, Joel P. West, composer
Going in Style, Rob Simonsen, composer
Good Time, Daniel Lopatin, composer
Goodbye Christopher Robin, Carter Burwell, composer
Gook, Roger Suen, composer
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Tyler Bates, composer
The Hitman’s Bodyguard, Atli ?rvarsson, composer
Hostiles, Max Richter, composer
Human Flow, Karsten Fundal, composer
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, Jeff Beal, composer
It, Benjamin Wallfisch, composer
Jane, Philip Glass, composer
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Henry Jackman, composer
Justice League, Danny Elfman, composer
Kepler’s Dream, Patrick Neil Doyle, composer
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Daniel Pemberton, composer
Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Henry Jackman and Matthew Margeson, composers
Kong: Skull Island, Henry Jackman, composer
LA 92, Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans, composers
LBJ, Marc Shaiman, composer
Lady Bird, Jon Brion, composer
Lake of Fire, Qutub-E-Kripa, composer
Last Flag Flying, Graham Reynolds, composer
The Lego Batman Movie, Lorne Balfe, composer
The Lego Ninjago Movie, Mark Mothersbaugh, composer
The Leisure Seeker, Carlo Virzì, composer
Let It Fall, Mark Isham, composer
Life, Jon Ekstrand, composer
Logan, Marco Beltrami, composer
The Lost City of Z, Christopher Spelman, composer
Loveless, Evgueni Galperine and Sacha Galperine, composers
Loving Vincent, Clint Mansell, composer
The Man Who Invented Christmas, Mychael Danna, composer
Mark Felt – The Man Who Brought Down the White House, Daniel Pemberton, composer
Marshall, Marcus Miller, composer
Mary and the Witch’s Flower, Takatsugu Muramatsu, composer
Maudie, Michael Timmins, composer
Molly’s Game, Daniel Pemberton, composer
Moomins and the Winter Wonderland, ?ukasz Targosz, composer
The Mountain Between Us, Ramin Djawadi, composer
Mudbound, Tamar-kali, composer
The Mummy, Brian Tyler, composer
Murder on the Orient Express, Patrick Doyle, composer
My Cousin Rachel, Rael Jones, composer
Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer, Jun Miyake, composer
Okja, Jaeil Jung, composer
Oklahoma City, David Cieri, composer
The Only Living Boy in New York, Rob Simonsen, composer
Only the Brave, Joseph Trapanese, composer
Our Souls at Night, Elliot Goldenthal, composer
Paris Can Wait, Laura Karpman, composer
Patti Cake$, Geremy Jasper and Jason Binnick, composers
Phantom Thread, Jonny Greenwood, composer
The Pirates of Somalia, Andrew Feltenstein and John Nau, composers
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Geoff Zanelli, composer
The Post, John Williams, composer
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, Tom Howe, composer
The Promise, Gabriel Yared, composer
Pulimurugan, Gopi Sundar, composer
Raw, Jim Williams, composer
Roman J. Israel, Esq., James Newton Howard, composer
Saban’s Power Rangers, Brian Tyler, composer
Same Kind of Different as Me, John Paesano, composer
The Second Coming of Christ, Navid Hejazi, Ramin Kousha and Silvia Leonetti, composers
Served Like a Girl, Michael A. Levine, composer
The Shack, Aaron Zigman, composer
The Shape of Water, Alexandre Desplat, composer
Slipaway, Tao Liu, composer
Smurfs: The Lost Village, Christopher Lennertz, composer
Spider-Man: Homecoming, Michael Giacchino, composer
Split, West Dylan Thordson, composer
The Star, John Paesano, composer
Star Wars: The Last Jedi, John Williams, composer
Step, Laura Karpman and Raphael Saadiq, composers
Stronger, Michael Brook, composer
Suburbicon, Alexandre Desplat, composer
Swing Away, Tao Zervas, composer
Thank You for Your Service, Thomas Newman, composer
Their Finest, Rachel Portman, composer
Thelma, Ola Fløttum, composer
Thor: Ragnarok, Mark Mothersbaugh, composer
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Carter Burwell, composer
Tickling Giants, Paul Tyan, composer
Tommy’s Honour, Christian Henson, composer
Trafficked, David Das, composer
Transformers: The Last Knight, Steve Jablonsky, composer
XXX: Return of Xander Cage, Brian Tyler and Robert Lydecker, composers
Victoria & Abdul, Thomas Newman, composer
Voice From the Stone, Michael Wandmacher, composer
Wakefield, Aaron Zigman, composer
War for the Planet of the Apes, Michael Giacchino, composer
Wilson, Jon Brion, composer
Wind River, Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, composers
Wonder, Marcelo Zarvos, composer
Wonder Woman, Rupert Gregson-Williams, composer
Wonderstruck, Carter Burwell, composer
Year by the Sea, Alexander Janko, composer

Shyla Stylez B.C. native, porn queen Shyla Stylez dead at 35

Canadian porn star Shyla Stylez died suddenly at 35 at her mother’s B.C. home. TWITTER

Canadian porn queen Shyla Stylez is dead.

The 35-year-old Adult Film Hall of Famer died suddenly in her sleep at her mother’s Armstrong, B.C., home on Nov. 9.

Her death has shattered the porn industry, where she was as popular with co-stars as she was with fans.

Porn star Alana Evans described her friend as something akin to tragic film goddess Marilyn Monroe.

She tweeted: “At a loss for words. So sad that my old friend @MsShylaStylez has left us. You were one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever known.”

Evans added: “Whenever she entered a room, it didn’t matter who was around, all you saw was Shyla. Her energy and beauty consumed you instantly. And just like Marilyn, she has left us too early.”

There have been no details on how Stylez died.

Another adult star, Jesse Jane, wrote that Stylez — star of Accidental Hooker — is now “in a better place.”

After high school in rural B.C. she moved to Vancouver, where she worked as a cam girl before making the leap to Porn Valley in California, where she made more than 400 videos. Her first movie was Perverted Point of View.

After leaving the sexxx-rated biz for a short time, she returned in triumph in 2006 before packing it in for good in 2016.

— Toronto Sun

avengers wolverine Disney to buy 21st Century Fox assets for $52.4 billion

Bart Simpson, meet Mickey Mouse.

X-Men, welcome home to Marvel.

The Walt Disney Co. will purchase assets of 21st Century Fox, including its movie and TV divisions, for $52.4 billion in stock, Disney announced on Thursday morning.

This will shift a large part of the Rupert Murdoch-controlled Fox to the Mouse House, as Disney acquires the 20th Century Fox movie and TV divisions and cable channels, including its back catalog of films and shows.

That means the film rights to X-Men and Deadpool will now revert back to Disney-owned Marvel, while the studio also takes ownership of James Cameron’s Avatar franchise, and everything from the Fox network from The X-Files to Empire can now get their own Disneyland rides. (Let’s not get ahead of things, though.)

Disney also will buy Fox’s majority stake in Hulu’s video streaming service. Disney has hinted about creating its own streaming option and ending participation with rivals like Netflix, and this would seem to open up a new option. Hulu has 32 million users, according to latest figures.

Disney CEO Bob Iger will also stay on at the company through 2021, the announcement said. Iger was previously set to exit in 2019.

“The acquisition of this stellar collection of businesses from 21st Century Fox reflects the increasing consumer demand for a rich diversity of entertainment experiences that are more compelling, accessible and convenient than ever before,” he said in Thursday morning’s announcement. “We’re honored and grateful that Rupert Murdoch has entrusted us with the future of businesses he spent a lifetime building, and we’re excited about this extraordinary opportunity to significantly increase our portfolio of well-loved franchises and branded content to greatly enhance our growing direct-to-consumer offerings. The deal will also substantially expand our international reach, allowing us to offer world-class storytelling and innovative distribution platforms to more consumers in key markets around the world.”

Fox News and Fox Sports would be among the non-entertainment Fox elements that will not be included in the deal, but will instead be rearranged “into a newly listed company that will be spun off to its shareholders,” Disney’s announcement said.

Iger has added another immense entertainment company to his collection, which includes acquiring animation giant Pixar in 2006 for $7.4 billion, Marvel in 2008 for $4 billion, and Lucasfilm and the Star Wars franchise in 2012 for another $4 billion.

At $52.4 billion, the purchase of the Fox film studio, started by William Fox in 1915, would dwarf all of them.

Meanwhile, fans will look at this as Disney acquiring one of the biggest and most luxurious toyboxes in all of geekdom.

pet sematary Pet Sematary remake sets 2019 release date

Pet Sematary will rise again in 2019.

Paramount Pictures announced Thursday that its new adaptation of Stephen King’s 1983 horror novel about an ancient burial ground where the dead don’t rest in peace will arrive in theaters April 19, 2019.

As reported in October, Starry Eyes filmmakers Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer are directing the project, working from a script by Jeff Buhler.

Pet Sematary was previously brought to the big screen in 1989 by director Mary Lambert and King himself, who wrote the screenplay. A sequel followed in 1992 but was a critical and commercial dud. King stories have been enjoying a resurgence of late in theaters and on TV, with recent adaptations including The Dark Tower, ItGerald’s Game1922, and Mr. Mercedes.

Pet Sematary currently has its 2019 release date to itself.

Paramount also scheduled the Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne comedy Instant Family for Feb. 15, 2019. Sean Anders (Daddy’s Home movies) is directing the movie, about a married couple who adopt three wild children through the foster care system.

star wars Star Wars: The Last Jedi — What the Critics Are Saying

The reviews Star Wars: The Last Jedi are coming in at light speed.

Anticipation for the film from writer-director Rian Johnson could not be higher, so all eyes have been waiting for reviews to drop ahead of the pic’s Friday release. Here’s what the critics are saying about The Last Jedi.

The Hollywood Reporter‘s Todd McCarthy writes: “Loaded with action and satisfying in the ways its loyal audience wants it to be, writer-director Rian Johnson’s plunge into George Lucas’ universe is generally pleasing even as it sometimes strains to find useful and/or interesting things for some of its characters to do.” He notes that at 162 minutes, this is the longest Star Wars film ever, and perhaps that’s not a good thing: “Maybe the film is a tad too long. Most of the new characters could use more heft, purpose and edge to their personalities, and they have a tendency to turn up hither and yon without much of a clue how they got there; drawing a geographical map of their movements would create an impenetrable network of lines. But there’s a pervasive freshness and enthusiasm to Johnson’s approach that keeps the film, and with it the franchise, alive, and that is no doubt what matters most.”

The New York Times critic Manohla Dargis praises Johnson for tackling “the difficult business of putting his fingerprints on a franchise that deliberately resists individual authorship,” adding “Mr. Johnson largely succeeds despite having inherited an elaborate ecosystem with a Manichaean worldview divided between heroes (a.k.a. the Resistance) and villains (the First Order).” Dargis notes that that it rarely feels like Johnson is checking boxes you’d expect form this franchise. “About the only time it feels as if Mr. Johnson is checking Star Wars boxes is in some of the fights, especially during an impasse that turns into a slow-moving game of space chess,” she writes. “He may be checking off some those boxes in an ode to George Lucas; whatever the case, Mr. Johnson only infrequently comes across as dutiful or as overtly brand-expanding (as with a troika of calculatingly cute tykes who unnervingly suggest this series really will go on forever).”

Vanity Fair‘s Richard Lawson praises the film for how Johnson handles The Force. “The Force is, to me, still silly Star Wars mumbo jumbo, but Johnson finds a way to underscore it with humanity, with a classical Greek rumble of true pathos. On that front, The Last Jedi is a pure success, accessing the molten core of its drama and grappling with it in nuanced ways,” Lawson writes of the pic, adding, “Johnson expands the psychology of Star Wars, bringing shading and moral ambivalence to this mythic tale of dark versus light. No Star Wars has ever made a better case for the Force than this film, which finally mends the damage done by the midi-chlorian humbug introduced in the disastrous prequel films.”

thelastjedi Star Wars: The Last Jedi — What the Critics Are Saying
Star Wars: The Last Jedi Luke Skywalker getting lightsaber from Rey Photo: Lucasfilm Ltd.
© 2017 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

The Washington Post‘s Ann Hornaday has praise for Carrie Fisher’s final performance as Leia, calling her work a “magnificent and wryly funny final turn.” She highlights a moment between Leia and Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo (Laura Dern), promising it will  “bring a lump to Star Wars skeptics and superfans alike, as will frequent callbacks to the original films — including a particular whopper — that feel like Johnson offering a reassuring ‘I got you’ to a core audience that’s been burned too often in the past.”

IndieWire‘s Eric Kohn declares the film is the “most satisfying entry in this bumpy franchise since The Empire Strikes Back in 1980.” Kohn highlights the push and pull between Johnson’s indie filmmaking roots and the world of blockbusters: “Though there’s plenty of discussion about the spiritual prospects of the force, and the philosophical justifications for fighting through dire times, Johnson doesn’t shy from calling out the entertainment value in play (‘Permission to jump in an X-wing and blow things up?’), acknowledging that the series’ essence lies as much in the art of spectacle as in its epic world-building. From the astonishing light-and-color show in the opening minutes, the movie never lets up, communing with a cinematic tradition that has its roots in Lucas’ original ambitions in the avant garde.”

Los Angeles Times‘ Justin Chang notes that like Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams, Johnson is a lifelong Star Wars fan, but one who doesn’t let that get in the way of doing smart work. “[T]his time the nods feel less like obligatory acts of fan service than mythological reverberations, signaling a deeper, more intricate narrative intelligence at work,” writes Chang. He notes that Mark Hamill’s grizzled take on Luke Skywalker allows the actor to shine: “To a degree that even Fisher and Harrison Ford couldn’t fully manage in The Force Awakens, Hamill’s unexpected gravitas, offset by a faint twinkle of humor, acts as a kind of veteran’s seal of approval, setting the tone for fine performances across the board.”

NPR‘s Glen Weldon gives Johnson credit for tapping into what makes Star Wars great without the film feeling formulaic: “The Last Jedi is fun and fast, rollicking and suspenseful. It supplies us with all the things we expect — nay, demand — in a Star Wars movie, and manages to surprise us by revealing that this fictional universe, in which we’ve already clocked so many hours, can still surprise us.” Weldon adds that the film is able to add interesting new layers the the classic light vs. dark battle of the franchise, writing, “There is a welcome attempt, in The Last Jedi, to depict characters and their motivations in less stark and increasingly nuanced terms.”

Io9‘s Germain Lussier notes the film is able to land surprise after surprise: “Any time things seem to be going one direction, they don’t just zig or zag, they blast off into another dimension entirely. And it happens again and again,” he writes, adding, “For example, parts of the film are very funny — like, almost too funny. The humor can, at times, feel overboard from what we’re used to in Star Wars. And yet it works. Then there are parts of the film that are incredibly weird and almost surreal — moments that seem more fit for an avant-garde movie. But they work too, because the very nature of Star Wars is that anything is possible. From scene to scene, Johnson is basically saying, ‘Look, if we can have talking slugs, laser swords, and lightspeed, why can’t I do this?’ And then he does it.”

The Associated Press‘ Jake Coyle called the film a “welcome disturbance in the Force.” He points to Johnson’s 2012 time-travel movie Looper for why it’s not surprising he’s been able to make a movie “full of clever inversions.” But, Coyle adds, “before its considerable payoff, The Last Jedi feels lost and grasping for its purpose. Unlike the earlier films, the less tactile The Last Jedi isn’t much for world building, and its sense of place isn’t as firm. As an intergalactic travelogue, it’s a disappointment.” Despite some complaints, he notes that with the writer-director “breaking down some of the old mythology, Johnson has staked out new territory. For the first time in a long time, a Star Wars film feels forward-moving.”

New York Daily News‘ Ethan Sacks praises the daring narrative places the film goes, but slightly dings its running time, noting audiences will have to “sit through a solid, but not spectacular, first half of the 2.5-hour movie to see for themselves” where the film goes. “That’s about when the greatest lightsaber battle in Star Wars history kick-starts one of the most exciting cinematic stretches Earthlings have ever seen,” he adds.

USA Today‘s Brian Truitt also noted the runtime, writing that the film “tries to do a little too much in its overlong 2½ hours, yet writer/director Rian Johnson still turns in a stellar entry that owes much to George Lucas’ original films while finding a signature vibe of its own and unleashing a few welcome twists.” He also has much praise for Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren, noting, “The Last Jedi is Driver’s to rule as much as Force Awakens was Ridley’s, and he’s awesome in it — Kylo is blockbuster cinema’s most magnetic and unpredictable antagonist since Heath Ledger’s Dark Knight Joker.”

thelastjedi 2017 Star Wars: The Last Jedi — What the Critics Are Saying
Star Wars: The Last Jedi..L to R: Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) and Finn (John Boyega)..Photo: David James..©2017 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Chicago Sun-Times‘ Richard Roeper has largely positive things to say, though he doesn’t quite think it tops Force Awakens. “Although it doesn’t pack quite the same emotional punch and it lags a bit in the second half, this is still a worthy chapter in the Star Wars franchise, popping with exciting action sequences, sprinkled with good humor and containing more than a few nifty ‘callbacks’ to previous characters and iconic moments.” He calls it a “stepping stone” to 2019’s Episode IX, but notes, “Still, this is no mere placeholder of a story. Huge, important things happen to characters secondary and primary. Surprises big and small abound.”

Time Out New York‘s Joshua Rothkopf calls The Last Jedi a “work of supreme confidence: witty, wild and free to roam unexplored territory. If J.J. Abrams’s franchise-rebooting The Force Awakens (2015) was the creation of a boy who lovingly dusted off old toys and put them through their expected poses, its superior sequel is made by a more inventive kid — maybe one with a sideline as his block’s most inspired D&D Dungeon Master — who asks: Why can’t a Rebel fleet be commanded by Laura Dern in a purple wig?”

Vulture‘s David Edelstein had particular praise for Johnson’s directing of a key lightsaber battle: “He has the fighters go at it in breathtakingly long shots, their whole bodies charged. It feels like the first time since The Empire Strikes Back that the Force has extended to the director.” He has praise for Ridley’s Rey, but reserves highest marks for Driver’s Kylo “who ranks with cinema’s most fascinating human monsters.”

Time‘s Stephanie Zacharek acknowledges the multiple storylines proved challenging: “Johnson has to deal with the classic Star Wars franchise problems—you’ve got to find something meaningful for all these characters to do, and all of it must cohere into an at least semi-meaningful plot. At times the movie feels cluttered. How could it not be? But Johnson makes the most of individual scenes, shaping each with care and vigor.”

 

george lucas George Lucas Thinks The Last Jedi Was Beautifully Made

Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images
George Lucas
George Lucas has seen The Last Jedi, and he was highly impressed.

The Star Wars creator recently screened the highly-anticipated upcoming installment and thought it was “beautifully made,” Connie Wethington, a rep for Lucas told Heat Vision.

“And in speaking with director Rian Johnson after viewing was complimentary,” she added.

Lucas created the world of Star Wars and directed the initial film, A New Hope, which launched the space adventure franchise in 1977.

Lucas also wrote and directed the prequels.

In 2012, Disney acquired Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion.

Lucas said in interviews after the sale that he had ideas for future installments, but that Disney was going to do it own thing. Director J.J. Abrams-helmed The Force Awakens, which was a monster success in 2015.

The Last Jedi opens Thursday night. Reviews for the film were released Tuesday. Currently, the film holds a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes.

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