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Ice Age: Collision Course Review

22 July 2016 11:37 AM, PDT

Ice Age: Collision Course Could Have Been Meatier But Instead It Crashes HardIt’s time to put this animated series on the extinct species list.

Five movies in, the Ice Age franchise has clearly run out of ideas. The latest installment, Ice Age: Collision Course, actually recycles a whole sequence formerly released as a separate short film titled Cosmic Scrat-tastrophe, which played ahead of last fall’s The Peanuts Movie. That same sequence was then reused as a teaser trailer for the new Ice Age sequel back in December.

Now, following some Cosmos-parodying voiceover from Neil deGrasse Tyson, the outer-space-set sequence opens the new feature, and the rehashing is a terrible way to start off. For adult fans of the animated series, anyway. Small children will likely appreciate the familiar beginning, just as they appreciate watching the other four Ice Age movies over and over and over.

Once again, because »

- Christopher Campbell

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Analyzing The Summer 2016 Box Office Slump

22 July 2016 8:56 AM, PDT

We look at the data around this subpar summer.

Summer is the perfect time for massive blockbusters to hit theaters and rake in the cash. School is out, the days are longer and hotter, and the movie theaters offer a cool and relaxing escape. Except, 2016’s summer offerings have been pretty underwhelming, both critically and financially. People weren’t exactly lining up to score tickets to one of the many dismal sequels released this summer (looking at you Alice Through the Looking Glass) and even the critical hits (The Shallows, anyone?) failed to connect with audiences. Box office returns are down 22% compared to where we were this time last year. comScore box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian said that “there is no question that the summer of 2016 thus far has been a bit of a bummer, with the underperformers outnumbering the over-performers.” Ouch.

So where have we seen the box office breakouts this year? Well »

- Erica Bahrenburg

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Star Trek Beyond: To Boldly Go Where Many, Many Summer Movies Have Gone Before

22 July 2016 8:39 AM, PDT

All the best parts of a summer movie, all the worst parts of a Star Trek film.

It takes a little bit of guess work to figure out the population of the USS Enterprise in Star Trek Beyond. According to special features on the previous films, there are about 1,100 individuals on board the ship at any given time. While this might seem high to fans of the original series — whose Enterprise had a population of about 400 at the time of the show — it does seem to align with the version of the Star Trek universe that J.J. Abrams created. In the first Star Trek film, for example, Bruce Greenwood’s Christopher Pike credits George Kirk with saving over 800 lives with his quick thinking as the captain of the USS Kelvin. As an early montage shows, the Enterprise is a ship teeming with life.

Or at least for the first thirty minutes. If »

- Matthew Monagle

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Lights Out: Aimlessly Adrift Horror Flick Lacks Substance

22 July 2016 8:34 AM, PDT

The short that inspired it packs more frights into its 3+ minutes of running time.

At the root of all fears lies the dread of the unknown that hides and bides its time in the dark. Exploiting this ground zero human anxiety, David F. Sandberg’s Lights Out strips the bells and whistles from a basic notion and turns darkness itself –or an entity empowered by it– into a relentless villain. Perhaps because its premise is too simple to a fault, the scribe Eric Heisserer, working off of an identically-titled 2013 short film by Sandberg, stuffs an unconvincing “troubled child” back-story beneath the film’s intriguing yet thin shell. The result is neither effectively frightening nor persuasive. The feature-length Lights Out is your typical below-average horror flick in a lot of ways: some successful jump scares, an undercooked script, and shaky dialogue you’re occasionally willing to forgive in exchange of competent direction and random moments of comic relief »

- Tomris Laffly

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Star Trek: The Motion Picture is the Black Sheep of the Franchise

22 July 2016 8:29 AM, PDT

With marketing for Star Trek Beyond calling back to it, we look back at The Motion Picture.

As the Enterprise crew gets set to boldly go where no man has gone before in Star Trek Beyond, an opportunity arises to look at the first big screen adventure of Captain James T. Kirk and Spock. Star Trek Beyond has certainly embraced Star Trek: The Motion Picture as the posters deliberately call back to the film. Why would Star Trek Beyond want to draw comparisons to what is widely considered to be the black sheep of the franchise? Perhaps they envision Trekkies far and wide are nostalgic and nostalgia is the hottest commodity in town.

Left: Star Trek Beyond (2016) Right: Star Trek The Motion Picture (1979)

Bringing back the franchise and appeasing fans aside, Star Trek: The Motion Picture is an abhorrent film. Paramount was excited to launch a Sci-fi film that was more in line with Close Encounters of the Third Kind or »

- Max Covill

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Why Miami Vice Fans Should Be Racing to Watch Band of the Hand

22 July 2016 8:22 AM, PDT

Junkfood Cinema keeps it very manly this week.

Cursing one’s birth is a self-indulgent, melodramatic action usually reserved for ancient Greek theater. I however find myself regularly cursing the cruel circumstances that lead to my being born in 1984 and thus only getting an infantile gumming of this amazing era instead of ravenously feasting on its offerings as I do now retrospectively.

I truly believe that being only two years old when Miami Vice premiered on television is one of my greatest shortcomings as a human being. Fortunately, I was born to a father obsessed with the seminal prime time action crime series. His enthusiasm caused me to, as a teen, flash-consume reruns as if I was trying to snort them through my eyeballs. I began to lament not being old enough in 1986 to shove up my silk blazer sleeves and cruise around the neon oasis of Miami in a car I can, to »

- Brian Salisbury

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6 Filmmaking Tips From Justin Lin

22 July 2016 6:51 AM, PDT

A fast and fervorous guide beyond the basics.

Justin Lin, like his old UCLA classmate Joe Russo, is a member of the modern generation of Hollywood directors who make us really enjoy franchise filmmaking. Enough to get excited for the Fast and Furious movies after they’d seemed driven into a dead end and now to find a new hope in Star Trek with his satisfying takeover of that series. He soon may have us even caring about Space Jam.

The Taiwan-born Lin has also been an important voice for Asian-American representation, both on screen and off. He broke out with a great indie, Better Luck Tomorrow, and went on to become a valuable asset as a studio player, for both the industry and the fans. We honor his talent and his output below by sharing advice and guidance gleaned from statements he’s made through his career.

Action Should Be Character-Driven

Lin is known, mostly »

- Christopher Campbell

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What Dan Aykroyd Thinks of Ghostbros

21 July 2016 12:13 PM, PDT

He’s on a mission from God.

Last week, our Matthew Monagle wrote what I would consider to be the equivalent of an olive branch to Ghostbros, the subset of fandom that has been making coordinated attacks on the new Ghostbusters movie. They’ve tried everything from downvoting the trailer on YouTube to deflating the film’s IMDb score to organizing in an attempt to downvote every positive story on Reddit. At the time of Matthew’s piece, everything was “ha ha” funny, a sad story about a group that feels marginalized and their desperate attempt to thwart a major Hollywood release. We were calling for a change in discourse — a reexamination of how we talk about the things we love (and the things that might not be for us.

Then it all went to hell, as Ghostbros and notable Internet trash Milo Yiannopoulos led the charge in a series of disgustingly racist and sexist attacks on »

- Neil Miller

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Mark Hamill’s Comic Book: The Movie Shows That Luke Skywalker is One of Us

21 July 2016 10:36 AM, PDT

A love letter to Mark Hamill’s great Comic-Con set mockumentary.

When I was in college, some friends and I had a ritual we’d do on nights where several of us were bored. We’d grab my friend Joe’s high-8 camera and wander into the bowels of the library to shoot our own improvised movies. These were all done with editing-in-the-camera, meaning we shot in sequence, one shot at a time with no post-production work. We never started with a script, though by the end we were bringing along an array of costumes and props.

None of these were great films, but there was an infectious energy about them. The first film was just myself and Joe, and we took turns holding the camera depending on which of us was in the shot. We had fun but wouldn’t have repeated the experiment had the friends we showed it to not said, “When »

- The Bitter Script Reader

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We’re All In for Godzilla Resurgence

21 July 2016 10:22 AM, PDT

West versus East interpretations of a classic movie monster.I’m rooting for Godzilla.

2014 brought us Gareth Edwards’s Godzilla, the American movie reboot starring the quintessential Japanese monster. That film did so well worldwide, Japan’s Toho Studios (the production company behind all previous Godzilla movies, minus the terrible one starring Matthew Broderick; that was America’s bad) decided mere months later that they were also going to reboot the franchise domestically after the longest span of time between movies had elapsed since the creature’s inception, and it was going to be in the same spirit as the older versions. That is, they were going to dress up a guy in a lizard suit and have him thrash around for an hour and a half. Check out the newest trailer below for Godzilla Resurgence, opening next Friday in Japan:


This trailer is fantastic »

- Colton Ledford

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The History of Lgbtq Representation in Star Trek

21 July 2016 10:13 AM, PDT

For 50 years, the many incarnations of Star Trek have been boldly going where other shows wouldn’t.

The recent announcement that Hikaru Sulu (John Cho) will be gay in this weekend’s third installment of the Star Trek reboot films has garnered intense attention, contention, and debate. Many jilted fan boys have cried foul over director Jason Lin and writer Simon Pegg’s decision to pay homage to the original Sulu George Takei, claiming that it ruins the integrity of the character. Many have rejoiced in the “first” Lgbtq character in the franchise. Both of these camps are misguided. Star Trek has always been a place for Lgbtq representation — even when studios and public opinion refused to allow it to be overt.

Star Trek: The Original Series was groundbreaking in many ways. It was the vehicle through which one of the first televised interracial kisses occurred between Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and Lieutenant Uhura (Nichelle Nichols). The »

- Allison Bigelow

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Equals Is Sleepy Selfsame Sci-Fi

21 July 2016 9:51 AM, PDT

A promising cast is hamstrung by its emotionless premise.

In the world of Drake Doremus’s Equals, the future is bleak out of efficient emotional economics. Feelings cause problems, so they’ve been genetically stifled for the sake of utopia. This is no Hunger Games and no Divergent, though its protagonists feel more closely linked to the unintentional thinness of young adult fiction than the elegant broad strokes of Asimov.

Nicholas Hoult and Kristen Stewart play coworkers whose names are almost lost in the constantly breathy dialogue (Silas and Nia), but whose attraction is obvious. In a society that prizes its inhabitants who have a mechanical work ethic and no desires but the continuation of the human race, interaction is secluded almost exclusively to staff meetings. All business. We hear over loudspeakers and on screens that emotions have broken loose in a select population like a viral outbreak. Emotions aren’t contagious — we think.

Hoult »

- Jacob Oller

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Ava DuVernay is Basically Owning 2016

21 July 2016 9:44 AM, PDT

And it’s only the summer.(Charley Gallay/Getty Images)

Ava DuVernay is having the best week ever. In fact, she’s having a pretty awesome year, which is much deserved for the Oscar nominated director and super awesome Power Woman. On Tuesday, her documentary The 13th was announced as the opening night film for the 53rd Annual New York Film Festival in September, making her the first African American director and first documentarian to accomplish such a feat. On Wednesday, we caught a glimpse of the first trailer for Queen Sugar, which DuVernay created and directed alongside Executive Producer and fellow Power Woman Oprah Winfrey. Through these projects and others in the pipeline, Ava DuVernay has proven she has her finger on the pulse of entertainment and culture, and is thus basically owning 2016.

The 13th is Ms. DuVernay’s first directorial effort since the Martin Luther King biopic Selma (2014), which was nominated for an Academy Award »

- Paola Mardo

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What Netflix Can Learn from The Video Store Experience

21 July 2016 9:26 AM, PDT

Netflix can save itself by going old school.Image Credit

BoJack Horseman’s third season debuts this Friday, and while the animated comedy is just one of many fan favorites, it is important to note that, originally, Netflix started as a movie provider. Streaming giants like Netflix, Amazon, and Apple took over the customers that browsed video store aisles, but the heart of what those stores represented has gone unreplaced. For all the items Netflix has at its disposal, and no-need-to-leave-home convenience, they can still do better.

My favorite day of the week when I was a child was Friday. Not because the school week was over, or that it dawned the beginning of a weekend, but because Friday was when my Dad would take my sister and me to the video rental place. The store itself was nothing special. It appeared to be a repurposed law office, but the mere sight of it was the highlight »

- Colin Biggs

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When You Love a TV Show But Don’t Want a Second Season

20 July 2016 2:22 PM, PDT

Stranger Things and more great series should be one and done.

In the ever-shrinking distinction between movies and television, series like Stranger Things can seem like a very long feature rather than an episodic show. Especially when they’re dumped all at once via Netflix, the individual parts add together to form a whole in our binge-watching minds. I have a favorite episode of Stranger Things — part three, “Holly, Jolly” — but it’s mostly just that because its climax was the point where I decided I had to keep going nonstop with my investment in the series. I recognize that it’s basically just the ending of the first act of a 400-minute movie, the point in the narrative where we’re meant to be fully drawn in.

If the eight-episode first season of Stranger Things is a singular work, like a feature film, then a second season would be like a movie sequel. And »

- Christopher Campbell

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The xXx: Return of Xander Cage Trailer Goes Back to the Franchise’s Roots

20 July 2016 12:44 PM, PDT

Charismatic Cardboard & Xander CagexXx: Return of Xander Cage is brings the series back to its B-movie roots.

After years of playing video games at friends’ houses, my family got a GameCube in 2002. Finally I could play all the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 that my nine year-old heart desired, though I honestly played way more Pro Skater 4. Too uncoordinated (and too afraid) to skateboard, I had a Razor Scooter. The time I didn’t spend outside was split between games, television, and movies. I was the target audience for xXx.

Thirteen years and a little maturity later, I am stoked for xXx: Return of Xander Cage.


Sure, the first film had its fair share of flaws. Some articles, like this retrospective from The Dissolve (Rip), note that the film failed to deliver on its promise of the James Bond of the 21st century. The »

- Max Barnhart

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Train to Busan Review: They’ll Punch Your Ticket With Their Teeth

20 July 2016 11:13 AM, PDT

Train to Busan Shows a Taste for Human Flesh and an Eye for Social CommentaryIt’s World War Z on the Korean Express.

Zombies! Love ’em or hate ’em, movies about zombies are here to stay. The majority of them will continue to head straight to DVD as their budgets and degree of film-making talent involved demand, but once or twice a year one comes along that truly benefits from being seen on a bigger screen. Yeon Sang-ho’s live-action debut, Train to Busan, is one of those exceptions despite hitting more than a few bumps in its journey.

Seok-woo (Yoo Gong) is a busy man doing important things at his job destined to make him both powerful and wealthy, but focusing on work leaves little time for his daughter, Su-an (Kim Soo-ahn, with a performance that once again suggests all child actors should train in South Korea). The girl is understandably lonely, and »

- Rob Hunter

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A 10 Step Guide to Hate Watching a Show

20 July 2016 10:44 AM, PDT

Using ABC’s Once Upon a Time as an example.

We all have that show that we cannot stand for whatever reason. The characters are annoying, the writing is cheesy, it’s a tacky “reality” show, all of your friends watch it so you just have to watch it too, whatever. But you still tune in every week to watch it, and every week you ask yourself, “Why am I watching this? I don’t even like this show.” The second you start asking yourself that, you have crossed into hate-watch territory. How did you get there? How did this something you once enjoyed become something you now hate? Here’s a step-by-step guide explaining the process using my hate-watch show, ABC’s Once Upon a Time.

1. The show has to have a premise or showrunner or actor that initially drew you into the story for whatever reason. In the beginning, Once »

- Erica Bahrenburg

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Ladies of Lust: The Female Gaze in Tarzan and Ghostbusters

20 July 2016 10:04 AM, PDT

Ladies of LustThe Female Gaze in Tarzan and Ghostbusters.

Commercials and trailers for Warner Bros. The Legend of Tarzan would leave you hard-pressed to find the story before you saw Alexander Skarsgard’s abs. Even the marketing material, with images of Skarsgard in the rain, begs for women to put the image on their cell phones with the tacit reminder that The Legend of Tarzan comes out in July. Yet Twitter and Facebook was littered with women saying how horrible the film looked but that they were planning to watch it anyway because of its shameless promotion of male skin.

The rampant thirst was enough for me to dub The Legend of Tarzan the Magic Mike of 2016 for tapping into women’s yearning for male skin in a cinematic world where women’s bodies are part and parcel of moviemaking today. Director David Yates must have had an awareness of the desert wasteland that is male nudity »

- Kristen Lopez

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The Ever-Expanding Star Trek Universe

20 July 2016 9:48 AM, PDT

Why Size and Scope Have Always Been the Franchise’s Best Friends.

Earlier this week, I was talking to someone about the upcoming Star Trek Beyond when a half-forgotten memory came tumbling from the dusty corners of my mind. It is of me and my brother, still children, sprawled out on the floor of the First National Bank in our small hometown. To help make ends meet, my parents took on several shifts as the overnight cleaning crew for the local branch; they would begin every shift by rolling the break room television into the manager’s office so my brother and I could watch old episodes of Star Trek they’d picked up from the nearby Blockbuster. As my family did not own a television until years later, these episodes of Star Trek, dated as they may have seemed, were a Big Deal for the two of us. I was pretty much hooked.

As »

- Matthew Monagle

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