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    Bringing James Dashner’s The Maze Runner to the big screen was an immense challenge for director Wes Ball. The YA bestseller is a huge fan favorite and two things needed to be perfect for his film to have any kind of shot at success. The lead character, Thomas, had to be cast perfectly, and boy, did they achieve that with Dylan O’Brien.

    The Maze Runner Wes Ball Dylan O'Brien

    Second, the setting of the actual titular maze world had to feel, sound and literally live and breathe like it did in Dasher’s book and the millions of imaginations around the world who devoured his novel. Ball nailed it on that front, too.

    We caught up with Ball for an exclusive chat in time for the film’s home video release, where he talked us through the casting process of finding O’Brien, making his maze (teased in The Maze Runner trailer) and how that ending was meant to cause shock and awe, and leave us waiting with bated breath for the sequel, The Scorch Trials.

    Movie Fanatic: The choices you made in bringing the book to the screen were so spot on. What was the biggest challenge in the sense of what to leave in and more importantly, what to leave out?

    Wes Ball: It’s all tough to be honest. I make a movie for the audience, obviously, and this is a book that could essentially launch a franchise. Those fans were going to be everything to get started, our platform to jump from. Any cuts I made wouldn’t be easy because I knew it would be difficult for fans to see certain things left out. The telepathy thing was the biggest one that fans missed the most. At the same time, I have to make a good movie and if something is going to be silly and not work in a movie, you have to cut it. Our tweaks were, for the most part, all about pacing and keeping that momentum going. There had to be a nice escalation linearly in terms of the mood and the plot. For the most part, I’d say, it’s pretty close to the book.

    Movie Fanatic: A lot of this rides on the casting of your lead. And Dylan O’Brien, my God, does he deliver. I love him on Teen Wolf and in The Internship, but why did you think he was your guy for The Maze Runner?

    Wes Ball: At first, I didn’t think he was going to be the guy for me. I had a very distinct idea in my head of what Thomas was going to be. He was going to be this vulnerable boy who shows up in this place, who is emotionally naked and afraid. By the end of the movie, he becomes this brave man, or at least young man. I knew Dylan had the latter part of it. I knew he could be this very strong and engaging character, but could he be that vulnerable person? Would he go there? Fortunately, he did. He has the range and is such an incredible actor -- putting aside all the girls that love him because he’s a pretty handsome dude. He’s a very good actor and he’s incredibly humble. He works harder than anyone. You can’t ask for anything better than that and we really hit the jackpot with Dylan because we were searching all over for our Thomas. He has that thing that you just want to watch. And that is what we needed because the story is really told through his eyes.

    A Maze-Like Figure
    A maze-like figure is a beauty of a poster idea for The Maze Runner.

    Movie Fanatic: And without even saying a word, he rides up in the elevator and it is all on his face. In that vein, speaking of that world where the mazes are, millions of people who have read the books have millions of ideas of what they look like, and what that landscape looks like. What was the biggest challenge of the production design for setting that landscape that you had your actors playing in?

    Wes Ball: Well, there you go, that’s the key word is landscape. Landscapes are varied, and they evolve. They’re not the same thing. That was the biggest challenge. We all know what a maze looks like, the claustrophobia of it all. But, how do you sustain that for a maze that is evolving throughout the film. That was me just fooling around and determining how you come up with this giant machine and how it would work. It became almost primitive at first with vines overgrown and then it becomes industrial when you get to the edge.

    Movie Fanatic: The book The Maze Runner ends a certain way. Take me back to when you shot this. You didn’t necessarily know you would get the chance to make a second movie, The Scorch Trials. Do you go into shooting that conclusion with an optimism or is it, “This is my job to film this movie and I’ll worry about what comes later, later?”

    Wes Ball: I had read all the books so I obviously knew where it was all going. At the same time, I kind of love the idea of an ending that leaves you holding your breath still. It’s a ballsy ending for sure. We’re taking the audience and basically punching them in the gut. Some people hated it, and I understand why, but I think we’re so used to these stories that just keep going on that as long as we felt like there was some sort of completion... For me, it was about escape. And they do escape. Many questions were answered, and I tried to answer everything, but it just felt right to do it this way. If we answered all the questions, it’ll be over four hours. It’s kind of a shocking ending, and we just hope that it would work well enough where we could make the next one and we would pick up right where we left off and continue with the story.

    Movie Fanatic: That’s got to be the best part now with you filming The Scorch Trials.

    Wes Ball: That’s the most fun! We’re really shooting it so the sequel just butts right up next to the last one. It continues on -- you can watch them in order and it would be seamless. I think it’ll be fun for people. It’s not something you dwell on when you’re making the first movie. You’re just trying to make the best movie you can.

    Movie Fanatic: I love when a movie has you wrapped up in these characters on a mission. And they achieve the mission and you learn that that mission was just the tip of the iceberg.

    Wes Ball: Yeah, man, I love that too. It reminds me of Star Wars. The idea of the movie on the screen, it lives beyond the movie on the screen. There’s room in how it’s portrayed that you can imagine a story beyond that. In Star Wars, that first one, that one line about fighting in the Clone Wars, I was like, “What? What are the Clone Wars?” There’s a whole universe out there. There’s something cool about the idea that there’s a lot more to show than you can fit into a little two hour window. I find that more interesting than something with a pretty little bow on top.

    Dylan O'Brien Is Thomas
    Dylan O'Brien is Thomas and when he arrives as a new Maze Runner, everything changes.

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    Birdman continues its march towards some serious Oscar love with the announcement today of the Golden Globe Awards nominations. The film scored seven nominations including Best Picture, Comedy or Musical and a nod for its lead actor, Michael Keaton.

    MIchael Keaton in Birdman

    Birdman also got another nomination for Supporting Actress for Emma Stone, after she picked one up in the same category with yesterday’s reveal of the SAG nominations.

    In a move that should thrill Jennifer Aniston on many levels, she scored a nomination for Best Actress for her work on Cake, while Angelina Jolie was snubbed for directing Unbroken. It’s an interesting situation there beyond the obvious gossip fodder… the Hollywood Foreign Press Association adores Jolie and it’s a total shock that she’s not on this list.

    Also missing is Clint Eastwood in any form, including his film American Sniper.

    The Golden Globes will be handed out January 11, 2015 and our hosts are the always awesome Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

    Here are the 2014 Golden Globe Nominees:

    Best Motion Picture, Drama

    The Imitation Game
    Benedict Cumberbatch rivets in the true tale of the man who broke the Nazi Enigma code.

    Best Motion Picture, Comedy Or Musical

    Michael Keaton soars and his comeback is now complete.

    Best Actor In A Motion Picture, Drama

    • Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
    • Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
    • Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler
    • David Oyelowo, Selma
    • Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

    Best Actress In A Motion Picture, Drama

    • Julianne Moore, Still Alice
    • Reese Witherspoon, Wild
    • Felicity Jones, Theory of Everything
    • Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
    • Jennifer Aniston, Cake

    Best Actor In A Motion Picture, Comedy Or Musical

    • Michael Keaton, Birdman
    • Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel
    • Bill Murray, St. Vincent
    • Joaquin Phoenix, Inherent Vice
    • Christoph Waltz, Big Eyes
    Into the Woods James Cordon Emily Blunt

    Best Actress In A Motion Picture, Comedy Or Musical

    Best Supporting Actor In A Motion Picture

    • Robert Duvall, The Judge
    • Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
    • Edward Norton, Birdman
    • Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
    • J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

    Best Supporting Actress In A Motion Picture

    • Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
    • Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year
    • Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
    • Emma Stone, Birdman
    • Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

    Best Director – Motion Picture

    • Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
    • Ava DuVernay, Selma
    • David Fincher, Gone Girl
    • Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman
    • Richard Linklater, Boyhood

    Best Animated Feature Film

    • The Boxtrolls
    • How To Train Your Dragon 2
    • Big Hero 6
    • The Book of Life
    • The Lego Movie
    The LEGO Movie Chris Pratt Is Emmet

    Best Foreign Language Film

    • Force Majure
    • Gett: The Trial of Viviane
    • Ida
    • Leviathan
    • Tangerines Mandariinid

    Best Screenplay – Motion Picture

    • Birdman
    • The Grand Budapest Hotel
    • Gone Girl
    • The Imitation Game
    • Boyhood

    Best Original Score – Motion Picture

    • The Theory of Everything
    • Gone Girl
    • The Imitation Game
    • Birdman
    • Interstellar

    Best Original Song – Motion Picture

    • Big Eyes from Big Eyes
    • Glory from Selma
    • Mercy Is from Noah
    • Opportunity from Annie
    • Yellow Flicker Beat from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

    Several of the animated movie nominees are available to watch on digital download -- watch The LEGO Movie online and watch How to Train Your Dragon 2 online

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    As you can tell immediately in the Inherent Vice trailer, Josh Brolin’s LAPD detective is a little behind the times of the 1970-set film from Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood). “He’s not only a generation behind, he’s like a generation and three quarters behind,” Brolin told Movie Fanatic.

    Josh Brolin Joaquin Phoenix Inherent Vice

    “He refuses to let go of that Right Stuff image he has of himself and how life should be. And yet, he’s not intelligent enough or impactful enough to understand you have to be valuable with the times.”

    In Inherent Vice, Brolin’s Lt. Det. Christian F. "Bigfoot" Bjornsen has a dozen plates in the air. They include a disappearance of a real estate magnate (Eric Roberts), and his mistress Shasta (Katherine Waterston) has vanished too. When we meet Bigfoot, he is about to bring in Joaquin Phoenix’s private detective, Doc, because he awoke lying next to a dead guy. And yes, they are all interconnected.

    We learn that Doc and Bigfoot have a history and that Doc’s private eye, in fact, has been quite helpful over the years, despite the fact that he’s a pot smoking hippie that embodies a lifestyle that Bigfoot so vehemently detests. But, Brolin had a ball playing a guy who was so clueless, yet so firm in his beliefs.

    “[He’ll] actually get more out of Doc by getting rid of all that kind of racist or civil rights violating stuff and quit being such an idea of yourself,” Brolin said.

    The Oscar nominee then made a spot-on comparison. “He’s a kid having a tantrum. He wants his Fruit Loops, and he’s not getting his Fruit Loops. And he doesn’t know how. He doesn’t understand that the tantrum’s not working. And he gets more frustrated because the tantrum’s not working instead of being smart enough to go, ‘If I maybe am really nice, maybe that will work.’ But he doesn’t get that.”

    One of the (many) aspects of Inherent Vice that is pure joy is the camaraderie between Doc and Bigfoot. “That relationship is such a marriage, like any cop relationship. It’s much more functional than anything else he’s doing -- even though it’s totally dysfunctional,” Brolin said and laughed.

    Even though Brolin admitted that he and Phoenix have completely different approaches to tackling characters, once Anderson called “action” the two were effortless partners in a brilliant thespian dance.

    “We gelled really, really well. I think the approaches are very different. I need objectivity. Personally, I need to be able to (expletive) around a lot -- trying to crack everybody up with whatever I’m doing. Because when I get into the scene, then I’m familiar to me, and that’s good. If I’m in it all the time, I’m bored by the time I get there. That’s just me,” Brolin admitted.

    Inherent Vice Josh Brolin

    “But, Joaquin’s in it, all the time. That’s what works for him. When we were in it, we were very similarly convicted. Total conviction once you’re doing it. And then whatever you’re doing otherwise is none of my business.”

    From Mark Wahlberg and the all-star cast of Boogie Nights, through Philip Seymour Hoffman in The Master, actors line up to work with Anderson. His vision is unique, sublime and impeccable. Brolin was no different.

    “He’s a guy who creates an ambiance of possibility. First of all, when you see There Will Be Blood, or you see raining frogs in Magnolia, you’re like, ‘Okay, he’s willing to kind of go into a different place.’ He has a perspective that I think is interesting, personally. So why would you not do it?” Brolin said.

    Then, you jump in and see the reason why everyone lines up to work with Anderson. The two crossed paths during awards season a few years back. Brolin was promoting No Country for Old Men and Anderson had There Will Be Blood. Immediately, just being in a room with Anderson, Brolin was hooked.

    “It’s like this guy works with the greatest actors out there, and that’s it. It’s not like, ‘Oh, I’d really like to work with Paul Thomas Anderson.’ It’s just that’s probably something that’s not going to happen,” Brolin said and smiled.

    “Then you get a call saying, ‘Look, I think I may have some work for you.’ That was the line! Paul said that to me! And then you’re on set with this guy, and he’s like your brother. And I don’t mean your bro, I mean actually like your brother. We understand the same things. We have the same references. We appreciate a lot of the same absurdities. And we see the humanity in those absurdities.”

    Inherent Vice
    The poster for Inherent Vice. The Paul Thomas Anderson movie has an all-star cast.

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    Although the Golden Globe nominations have no real bearing on the Oscar race (they are two entirely different voting blocks), one thing it does do is direct the conversation. See, in Hollywood, whether we’re talking about the success or failure of a particular film or a movie or actor’s chances at Oscar gold, perception is paramount.

    Golden Globes Awards Logo

    So, what do the Golden Globe nominations tell us?

    At the outset, there are the numbers: Birdman scored seven nominations, The Imitation Game garnered five and so too did Richard Linklater’s Boyhood.

    But, in the larger scope of things with its ruling the Independent Spirit Award nominations and yesterday’s SAG nominations, it appears that Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman is our front-runner. For now.

    That being said, there’s a whole lot of time between now and the Oscar nominations reveal January 15, 2015. And like a horse race or a race for baseball’s pennant, this thing comes in waves. Right now, Birdman is riding high, but that doesn’t mean that that will be the headline in a month -- heck, even a week.

    This love for Birdman might be slightly different. It looks like it has staying power. The film landed back in October and here it is mid-December and the love for this film is swelling, not abating. Michael Keaton’s performance is the stuff of legend, and he’s backed by a supporting cast that also brings their A-game. Evidence of that are the nods for Emma Stone and Edward Norton in supporting categories.

    Also, Hollywood loves a comeback. And not only is Keaton getting the comeback of a lifetime, but in a move that is pure Meta -- that is what the film is also about! Win-win!

    What else did the Golden Globe nominations tell us?

    You can’t ignore Jennifer Aniston. We thought earlier in this awards season that all the buzz for her for Best Actress for her work in Cake would not materialize. Now with a SAG nomination and a Golden Globe nomination and the fact that 2014 was a sadly weak year for leading women, looks like Aniston could be getting her first Oscar nod. Not bad for a girl that was once more known for her hairstyle than her thespian talents!

    Ralph Fiennes The Grand Budapest Hotel

    The Grand Budapest Hotel has not been forgotten and that makes us beyond happy. Watch The Grand Budapest Hotel online and it is easily our favorite Wes Anderson movie. We think it’s worthy of Best Picture talk and it seemed as if that had faded with the months since the film debuted in the summer. But, it too scored SAG nods, and today we learned that Anderson was nominated for a Best Director Golden Globe and it also got one for Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy. And in a stroke of bonus love, Ralph Fiennes was deservedly honored with a Best Actor nomination!  

    And unlike those SAG nominations, Selma was not ignored by the Golden Globes. We think that the tide we talked about earlier will shift -- honestly -- and once more people see Selma, the more it will become the front-runner for Oscar gold. How about them apples?

    What about the snubs?

    There are two that are glaring… and they’ve both worked together before. Clint Eastwood and American Sniper were completely ignored and so too was Angelina Jolie and Unbroken.

    Both films were considered a lock for Oscar love and both films were likely to score nods for their directors and lead actors. Nope… didn’t happen for either.

    Here are the nominees for the biggest Golden Globe awards:

    Best Motion Picture, Drama

    The Imitation Game
    Benedict Cumberbatch rivets in the true tale of the man who broke the Nazi Enigma code.

    Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical

    Michael Keaton soars and his comeback is now complete.

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    2014 was a huge year for movies. And we’re not just talking about what we saw on the big screen.

    There were movie headlines that would be the most talked about news of any given year (Star Wars title, trailer!), but they had to share the most talked about movie news of the year title with so many others (Robin Williams' death and more).

    We looked over the year that was and came up with 15 news stories that towered over all the others in Hollywood. Like what, you ask?

    Watch The Avengers online, and one realizes that Kevin Feige and his Marvel team have huge plans -- documented through 2019 with a series of releases that caused a virtual earthquake here in Tinseltown!

    And who would have thought that the movie you see when you watch The LEGO Movie online would go on to be the explosive sensation that it is?!

    When you check out our Django Unchained quotes, it is easy to wonder what Quentin Tarantino would follow up that classic with. Well, he made headlines for announcing his next film, then pulling it, then casting it and currently shooting it!

    That’s just the tip of the movie headline iceberg, people! 

    Click through and discover our top 15 movie news headlines of 2014!

    12 Years a Slave Wins Best Picture
    It was hardly a surprise, but it did not make it any less explosive. 12 Years a Slave won Best Picture early in 2014 at the Oscars and when producer Brad Pitt took the stage to accept the Oscar, it was the first time that the superstar held one of those trophies. Then he handed the mic over to director Steve McQueen and the power of his words matched the power of his film.

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    The reaction to that Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser trailer has been seismic. Sure, George Lucas hasn’t seen it, but tens of millions of people have.

    Star Wars Photo

    Heck, it’s one of the 9 Most Watched Trailers of 2014 on YouTube!

    That fact, and the legions of fans that shot video reactions and posted them to their social media feeds, has star Mark Hamill a little blown away. And given the mania he saw firsthand with the first Star Wars trilogy back in the day, that is saying something.

    “I’ll tell you, the most moving aspect of them releasing that trailer was watching a [video] of other people watching it. My daughter put it on for me. It was all these people watching the trailer,” Hamill told IGN.

    “Sometimes you get sort of isolated and disconnected because I don’t really follow it as closely as, say, [my son] Nathan does, but to see those people that thrilled, it was moving to me. I actually got a lump in my throat watching that. To see so many people that happy was a thrill."

    Hey Mark, we got a lump in our throat just watching the teaser!

    Star Wars: The Force Awakens lands December 18, 2015 and that day cannot get here soon enough. 

    The Falcon Flies Again
    What more needs to be said to make our day?!

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    The Wachowskis are pushing the envelope yet again, judging by the Jupiter Ascending trailer.

    Channing Tatum stars as an alien warrior who must come to earth to save Mila Kunis, who doesn’t realize it, but she’s a princess who holds the fate of the future of the universe in her hands.

    Warner Bros. has released four new character posters that introduce us to those two leads, but also our villain, played by Eddie Redmayne, and a mysterious character played by Sean Bean.

    Given the filmmakers' history of mind-blowing story and special effects, such as seen when you watch The Matrix online or even in their most recent, Cloud Atlas, audiences should be in for a treat when the film lands February 6, 2015.

    The sci-fi epic also stars Douglas Booth, James D’Arcy and Doona Bae.

    Channing Tatum's Alien Warrior
    Channing Tatum is an alien warrior sent to rescue Mila Kunis.

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    When you think about what Fox Searchlight has accomplished in its 20 short years, it is extraordinary. To celebrate their 20th anniversary the studio has released an exquisite and must-own Blu-Ray collection of 20 of their greatest films. To have all of these in one package is truly the gift that keeps on giving.

    Fox Searchlight 20th Anniversary Blu-Ray

    Each of the films in this package was hand selected by the people at Fox Searchlight for its cultural significance, awards cache and, yes, even box office success. Some of the films have even become cult classics that define a generation… just check out these Napoleon Dynamite quotes and we could not be more thrilled that flick is in this box set.

    When the film studio started it found immediate success, something that is not always the case in Hollywood. Just a sample of their first four releases in this set shows that. The Brothers McMullen, The Full Monty, Boys Don’t Cry (which would earn Hilary Swank an Oscar) and 28 Days Later (a horror classic) show that they would not be confined by genre and, in fact, excel at pushing the envelope of each movie genre!

    Napoleon Dynamite Picture

    More proof of their Oscar moxie is seen with Little Miss Sunshine (Oscar for Alan Arkin and one for writing), The Last King of Scotland (Best Actor for Forest Whitaker), Crazy Heart (Best Actor for Jeff Bridges), The Descendants (Best Screenplay), Black Swan (Best Actress for Natalie Portman), Slumdog Millionaire and 12 Years a Slave (both Best Picture winners!).

    And don’t get us started on the numerous nominations their films have received. If there is one box set of films' finest to have in your collection, the 20th anniversary Blu-Ray set from Fox Searchlight is it.

    What else is included?

    What if we told you Zack Braff’s iconic Garden State, Sideways, the charming 500 Days of Summer, the riveting 127 Hours, Beasts of the Southern Wild and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel? Yeah, right?!

    The Descendants Poster

    Other than the 20 films that are of the finest produced in the last two decades, you do not want to miss the bonus disc We Have Your Story, which has a stellar 98-minute documentary that takes viewers inside the magic of Fox Searchlight.

    We get to see how these movies came together and their importance to the art of cinema from the filmmakers themselves, the stars of these movies and scenes from the films. Given how story is king, if you look at these 20 titles, and everything else Fox Searchlight has ever produced, how perfect is that title of the decades-chronicling documentary?

    We Have Your Story may be the title of the documentary that highlights the Fox Searchlight 20th anniversary Blu-Ray collection, but it also is a perfect moniker to describe our feelings towards this box set and how each and every one of these stories touches our heart. These stories are our stories.

    Garden State Poster

    Want a tease of what’s in this astounding package? Watch Garden State online and then prepare to dive into the entire 20th anniversary Blu-Ray collection of Fox Searchlight. 

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  • 12/12/14--00:00: Taken 3 Clip: Good Luck!
  • We’ve got the first clip from the film Taken 3 and it’s a goodie!

    Liam Neeson’s man with a special set of skills is on the phone with an LAPD detective, played by Forest Whitaker.

    See, as you can tell by the Taken 3 trailer, Neeson is wanted for the murder of his wife (Famke Janssen) -- who he clearly did not kill.

    We’re guessing it has something to do with his past work coming back to haunt him. But, until he can find who did this, he has to be on the run. Whitaker's job is to bring him in.

    Oliver Megaton is behind the camera again and we hear that Maggie Grace also returns as Neeson’s daughter, she who was taken in the first Taken.

    Look for the third Taken flick in theaters January 9, 2015. In the meantime, watch Taken online and see how it all got started. 

    Taken 3 Poster
    The official "American" poster for Taken 3.

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    We loved the Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser trailer and how it introduced us to a whole new cast of characters. Some wanted to see our old favorites, but this series still has a year to go until it hits theaters, so there is still plenty of time for that. 

    But, those new characters are going to be what truly drives the story -- we think. And until now they were just mysterious parts played by actors we know (such as Oscar Isaac) and some we don’t know well (Daisy Ridley).

    We gathered much, like those 10 things we learned from the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer.

    But names were not one! 

    Thanks toEntertainment Weekly, the characters’ names have been revealed.

    Can we just say that we love the format they chose? They remind us of our old school trading cards like the ones we used to (and still!) have featuring our old faves like Han Solo and Luke Skywalker.

    So, what are the characters' names?

    Click through and find out! And let’s keep counting those days until the December 18, 2015 release date.

    Oscar Isaac is Poe Dameron
    Flying that X-Wing, that's Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron.

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    Top Five kind of came out of left field and those are oftentimes the best surprises to get as a movie writer. Six months ago, this flick was not even remotely on our radar. Chris Rock wrote, directed and stars in the film that arrived at TIFF earlier this fall. Once it premiered, the talk about this Rock passion project grew exponentially.

    Chris Rock Rosario Dawson Top Five

    In a somewhat meta moment of art imitating life, Rock plays Andre, a highly successful stand-up comic who becomes an enormous movie star. After hitting rock bottom and kicking booze to the curb, he suddenly finds he has no desire to be funny anymore and decides to be taken seriously as an actor -- thus his latest flick that finds him playing a Haitian revolutionary leader.

    We meet Andre as he’s doing the press tour in New York City as his film is opening that particular Friday. He’s supposed to do an interview with the New York Times and after some pushing by his agent (Kevin Hart), he agrees. When he meets the reporter (Rosario Dawson), it becomes immediately clear that this woman gets him… so in many ways, she now is the audience’s eyes into his world and this story.

    Top Five reminds us, in some ways, of Richard Linklater and his “Before” series. There are many scenes of Rock and Dawson just walking and talking through the streets of New York. And they have the best conversations about items as rich as race relations and being a recovering alcoholic to things as pedantic as reality TV weddings.

    Top Five Chris Rock Gabrielle Union

    See, did we mention that Andre is marrying a Bravo reality TV star (Gabrielle Union)? And yes, their nuptials will be broadcast to the world. And if you can tell from what we’ve described so far, that’s not sitting too well with Andre, but what’s a guy to do?

    Rock, as an actor, we’ve seen do his thing and he does his thing in Top Five. As a writer, we think his screenplay is rich and complex, even if it takes a few predictable turns. And as a director, the SNL vet has a steady hand and manages to simultaneously make a statement about celebrity versus talent, finding one’s true self and love that’s right and the love that’s wrong.

    What strikes us the most about the film, our Top Five review has to state, is that there is a promise there from Rock of greatness ahead. If this is the first film that the actor wrote, directed and starred in (after CB4), and it’s this insightful, hilarious and heartwarming, we can’t wait to see what he does as he gets more experience as a storyteller.

    Chris Rock in Top Five
    From the sounds of it, Top Five will easily be one of Chris Rock's top five before he's done!

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    Remember that first Insurgent trailer that saw Shailene Woodley’s Tris in almost a trippy dream where she was trying to save her mother (Ashley Judd)?

    Well, with the premiere today of the full Insurgent trailer, one can see that that first teaser was truly just that… a tease.

    With the arrival of the first full true trailer for Insurgent, we get a real feel for the scope and the ramped up electricity for the sequel to Divergent. And we have to say it looks supremely impressive.

    Woodley is back as Tris, and so is Theo James as Four, and their uprising that barely commenced in the first film from Veronica Roth’s book series is in full blown revolution in Insurgent.

    As is the case with most sequels, things are elevated in the second film… most notably the cast.

    Kate Winslet, Ansel Elgort, Miles Teller, Maggie Q, Mekhi Phifer and Jai Courtney all return. But it is the new additions that are mind-blowing. Like who, you ask?

    How about Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer and Daniel Dae Kim?!

    Insurgent lands in theaters March 20, 2015, so get ready and watch Divergent online.

    We’ve also got a new Insurgent poster for ya! Check it out in the slideshow below. 

    Insurgent Poster
    Is it us, or is this Insurgent poster simply perfect?!

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    The latest Blackhat trailer has premiered and it shows Chris Hemsworth in a whole new light. Sure, he’s still heroic, like he is when you watch Thor: The Dark World online.

    But, this time out he’s a highly intelligent (and volatile) computer hacker who is serving 10 years in prison for a nefarious hack at a Korean nuclear plant.

    The government needs him because a computer hacking terrorist is wreaking havoc across the globe and he is the only guy who can stop him.

    The film is from Michael Mann (The Insider, Heat), who is one of our favorite filmmakers. It’s nice to see him back at work after a couple of years' break.

    Blackhat also stars Viola Davis and Tang Wei.   

    Look for it January 16, 2015.

    Chris Hemsworth Takes Aim
    Chris Hemsworth takes aim in Blackhat.

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    We know all about how Peyton Reed is all done with his Marvel movie. Yup, Ant-Man has wrapped. And now, thanks to Marvel, we finally have an official synopsis for the Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas starring film. We’ve had an idea what Reed’s film would be about, but this truly makes it “official!”

    Ant-Man Logo

    “The next evolution of the Marvel Cinematic Universe brings a founding member of The Avengers to the big screen for the first time with Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man. Armed with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, master thief Scott Lang must embrace his inner-hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, protect the secret behind his spectacular Ant-Man suit from a new generation of towering threats. Against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Pym and Lang must plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.”

    We’ve also got the official cast list and exactly who they are playing. Joining Douglas and Rudd is Michael Pena as Luis, Judy Greer’s Maggie, David Dastmalchian is Kurt, Wood Harris is Gale and Tip “Ti” Harris portrays Dave.

    Rudd, as we know, will play Scott Lang, also known as our title character. Douglas is Hank Pym, Evangeline Lilly is Hope Van Dyne and Corey Stoll is Darren Cross, better known as Yellowjacket!

    This is great, but where is that Ant-Man trailer?!

    Look for Ant-Man in theaters July 17, 2015.

    Evangeline Lilly Sports Her Hope Van Dyne Look
    Evangeline Lilly shows off her Hope Van Dyne Look in Ant-Man!

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    Since the Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser trailer arrived, there has been a slew of parodies permeating the internet. One of our favorites is the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer George Lucas edition, full of its tinkering and added Jabba the Hut and more.

    Now we have one that, we think, takes the cake. We all know that Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane adores Star Wars. He’s devoted entire episodes of his hit animated show to his own version of Star Wars featuring his animated cast.

    You knew that as soon as the first Episode VII trailer hit, he would go to work on his own version, and now we have it!

    The best part is Stewie as the Sith with that awesome cross light saber, whose name we learned with yesterday’s reveal of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens character names.

    The real Star Wars: The Force Awakens lands in theaters December 18, 2015. It brings back Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher and introduces us to Oscar Isaac, Daisy Ridley, David Boyega and more. 

    The Falcon Flies Again
    What more needs to be said to make our day?!

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    When it comes to how the man with the Midas touch, producer Will Packer, chooses projects -- it’s all about the material.

    Will Packer Photo

    “It’s tough to get movies made, so as a producer, I would be remiss if I didn’t say that I had to keep an eye on what studios are looking for and the types of movies that can get made. But at the same time, you also want to choose good material. Since the first major comedy that I made, which was Think Like a Man, I’ve had the opportunity to do three or four comedies since then and it’s an area that I’m really interested in,” Packer told Movie Fanatic on the set of his latest, The Wedding Ringer.

    He stresses that even with all the advancement in movie watching technology and means, there is something about the comedy that still demands you sit in the dark with hundreds of others.

    “People don’t really have to go to the movies anymore. You can get that experience at home, online or wherever. But comedy is something that is still a communal experience. People will still go out and sit with other people, so that they can enjoy a good comedy together."

    As you can tell from The Wedding Ringer trailer, the story follows Josh Gad’s Doug, who is about to marry Gretchen (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting). There’s one problem. Doug has no friends and, as such, no best man and certainly no groomsmen. So, what’s a guy to do?

    He hires Kevin Hart’s Jimmy who owns Best Man, Inc. Jimmy provides the entire “Golden Tux” package that includes Jimmy as your best man and as many groomsmen as you need. It is all done with a professionalism that would convince an entire wedding that these people are truly your close comrades.

    When asked how someone like Gad could “get” a girl like Cuoco-Sweeting and not have any friends, Packer doesn’t even flinch in speaking what is in fact the truth in 2014.

    “As you know, in America, you can get a hot wife. He’s doing well for himself financially, so you can read between those lines,” Packer admitted.

    “He’s put himself at a certain level, where he has been able to score somebody on the level of Kaley Cuoco. But his business skills don’t necessarily translate, as is often the case, into his social skills, so he’s a bit socially awkward. The way that Josh expertly plays his character, you ultimately get invested in him.”

    The Wedding Ringer Trailer Photo

    The Wedding Ringer is Packer and Hart’s fifth movie together and clearly the uber producer wouldn’t work with the guy if he didn’t have the most supreme of talents -- which he clearly does. All you have to do is watch Ride Along online for starters!

    “He’s a great talent, and he’s definitely somebody to watch. He’s in his moment, right now. I sent him the script [for The Wedding Ringer]. Kevin felt it was something very different from the characters that he’s had the opportunity to play, and he was excited about the chance to broaden out and show some range,” Packer said.

    “Jimmy has to assume these different roles and pretend to be various people, but at the end of the day, what he’s afraid of is commitment and relationships in his own life. So, through the course of this film, we see that he discovers a little bit about who he really is, as a person, and he gets closer than he thought he’d ever allow himself to get with the Josh Gad character.”

    The key to The Wedding Ringer working, which we can see it well judging by that The Wedding Ringer holiday trailer, is the chemistry between Gad and Hart. “They have such an interesting chemistry. It’s not unlike what you see when you think about Will Smith and Kevin James in Hitch,” Packer said.

    “Jimmy is the slick, smooth talker who’s always got it together. He’s a rapid-fire, hip dude. And then, Doug is the stumbling, bumbling, lovable loser who you’re afraid may trip, walking down the street. There are elements, though, that you don’t initially see in each of them. Jimmy is not quite as cool as he’d like to be, and Josh has actually got it more together than you think that he does. Together, it’s a great chemistry. You want to see more of them on film, giving each other the business, having fun with each other and, at the end of the day, becoming very close in a relationship that, as the audience, we also become invested in.”

    Packer clearly has set himself apart from many producers out there. He is not confined to one genre and we think he is just getting started. This is the tip of the iceberg of a super producer in the making.

    “I happen to be an African American film producer, but I can do a variety of genres and a variety of themes. I have no shame in the fact that I’ve done films that have played very, very well with African American audiences and have themes that are culturally relevant to that audience,” Packer said.

    “But I’ve also done films like The Wedding Ringer, which is just a broad comedy. There’s nothing specific to any particular culture or ethnicity in this film. I happen to be the producer, who is African American. I want the film to be judged on the basis of the film. At the end of the day, the audience tells you what works. I don’t care who’s in it, what it’s about or who it’s trying to appeal to. These days, audiences have too many choices. A film has to be good, in order for it to work. So at the end of the day, I want to be on the side of making good films, and that’s what I strive to do.”

    Look for The Wedding Ringer in theaters January 16, 2015. To witness another one of Packer’s great works, watch About Last Night online.   

    Josh & Kevin Boogie Down
    Hart even teaches Gad some sweet moves!

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    It was 30 years ago this week that Axel Foley left the mean streets of Detroit for the surprisingly meaner streets of Beverly Hills in Beverly Hills Cop.

    Eddie Murphy officially became a blockbuster star with the film. Did you know that he wasn’t originally the one who was supposed to headline?

    The A-lister whose movie it was dropped out two weeks before filming started and, believe you me, it would have been a very different movie.

    In honor of the 30th anniversary of one of the greatest comedies of all time, we found 11 fun facts about the Murphy break-out hit that you probably didn’t know.

    Those Beverly Hills Cop quotes are iconic, but not everyone on the set appreciated Murphy’s penchant for improv.

    Check out our 11 fun facts about Beverly Hills Cop and then watch Beverly Hills Cop online and view it in an entirely new (and informed!) light.

    Who Else Was Supposed to be Axel Foley?
    Would you believe that Beverly Hills Cop was originally an action vehicle for Sylveter Stallone? Yup! And he wasn't the only person who considered the part. Before Eddie Murphy made it his cinematic moment, Mickey Rourke, James Caan and Al Pacino all thought about being the Beverly Hills Cop.

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    This weekend has practically something for everyone hitting screens. Hollywood presents its latest wares as the Weekend Movie Preview looks at the three big films opening across the country. 

    The biggest has to be Christian Bale starring as Moses in Ridley Scott's biblical epic Exodus: Gods and Kings. Chris Rock brings the funny in Top Five, a film he wrote, directed and stars in. And Paul Thomas Anderson returns with a triumph, the '70s-set crime noir, Inherent Vice.

    Let's break it down...  

    Exodus Gods and Kings: Scott is known for creating epic films, but none are as massive in scope as his look at the life of Moses. Meanwhile, Bale is no stranger to playing heroes, but there is nothing in his repertoire like the turn he gives as the biblical icon. 

    Two Brothers Born to Fight
    Bale is Moses, Edgerton is Ramses, and these two are gonna clash!

    Bale and Scott have joined forces on a film that looks absolutely incredible. But, what makes this flick truly work -- our Exodus: Gods and Kings review reported -- is the fraternal chemistry and rivalry between Joel Edgerton's Ramses and Bale's Moses. It drives this film and makes it much more than a story about Moses and the Hebrews being taken out of slavery. This is a story about two brothers on a collision course that would change history. 

    Top Five: Rock shows himself as quite the filmmaker with his latest effort. The comic plays a, well, comic, who has become a huge movie star and, after kicking booze, decides he wants to devote himself to a more serious career making movies that matter. Except, that doesn't work out so well. 

    Chris Rock in Top Five
    From the sounds of it, Top Five will easily be one of Chris Rock's top five before he's done!

    In the process, he meets a New York Times reporter (Rosario Dawson) who, over the course of their day together, helps him re-discover his love of stand-up and become aware that his fiance (Gabrielle Union) is using him for his fame. In the end, the pair give performances that had us cheering. For more, check out our Top Five review.

    Inherent Vice: Anderson's latest might not be his best, but it is his second best! Joaquin Phoenix stars as a private detective who winds up in way over his head when his ex-girlfriend comes and asks him for some help. Phoenix is incredible and gives a hurricane of a performance. But, it is Josh Brolin who steals every scene he's in. When is this guy going to get an Oscar already?!

    Inherent Vice
    The poster for Inherent Vice. The Paul Thomas Anderson movie has an all-star cast.

    As we reported in our Inherent Vice review, the Anderson noir flick is one of the best of the year... if not the best.  

    Feel like staying in this weekend? Some blockbusters have arrived on digital download. Watch Dawn of the Planet of the Apes online and the year's biggest hit when you watch Guardians of the Galaxy online

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    The first trailer for Wild Card is here and the latest Jason Statham action flick looks like it’s a little different that his usual films. This time out, he’s actually the underdog as a down on his luck gambler in Sin City who one way or another, as he says in the trailer below, “This is my last night in Las Vegas.”

    Statham is Nick Wild, a Vegas bodyguard who is a lot more lethal with his hands, feet and assorted weapons than he is with his Blackjack skills.

    When a buddy gets roughed up by some thug, Nick swings into action and gets revenge.

    Wrong move… that guy was the son of the city’s biggest mob boss. Yup, trouble is brewing. Nick would like to get out of town, but he’s got no cash. Time to hit the tables and hope he doesn’t get what’s coming to him before he has a chance to win it all.

    Wild Card lands in theaters January 30 and also stars Sofia Vergara, Jason Alexander, Anne Heche, Max Casella, Hope Davis, Stanley Tucci and Milo Ventimiglia.

    What is so compelling about this flick is it is written by a screenwriting legend, William Goldman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All the President’s Men).

    Check out Statham’s latest and watch The Expendables 3 online.  

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    Sean Penn hasn’t made a whole lot of action movies in his career and from the looks of the first trailer from The Gunman, it was worth the wait to see one of the most talented actors of his generation bring the heat.

    Penn plays an assassin who has decided to leave his evil ways behind when he finds love. Javier Bardem is his partner in crime, and doesn’t take the news of his retirement too well. In fact, he’s not going to let him quit.

    The Gunman is from the director of the film you see when you watch Taken online and also stars Ray Winstone, Idris Elba and Mark Rylance.

    Look for The Gunman in theaters March 20, 2015. 

    Open Road also released the film’s first stills. Check them out in the slideshow below.

    Sean Penn Takes Aim
    Sean Penn is ready to fight for her personal freedom in The Gunman.

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