Travers on ‘Avengers: Infinity War’: Marvel Team-Up Is Superhero Pile-Up

Is it possible to have too much of a good Marvel thing? Avengers: Infinity War tests that theory to the max. Don’t get me wrong: This movie is an epic event, built to celebrate the end of a decade in which the Marvel Cinematic Universe produced 19 films. One problem is that No. 18, Black Panther, casts a long shadow – it’s arguably the best in the series, an unqualified triumph and could perhaps be the first realistic Marvel contender for a Best Picture Oscar. The MCU’s first black-superhero film is also tightly focused in how it tackles ethnic and gender issues, crushes racial stereotypes and celebrates women in a genre often criticized for exclusionism.

By contrast, Infinity War is all over the place, straining to give everyone a seat at the table. There are 30 lead roles, each actor getting his or her pass at the camera – clocking in at over two hours and 29 minutes, you’ll have Avengers coming out of your ears. As Tony Stark/Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr. gobbles up the most screen time and seems vastly amused to hear Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) use the word “hitherto” in a sentence. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo, a riot) tries to work himself into a rage so he can hulk out and bulk up like a jolly green human battering ram. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) gets to mix it up with the Guardians of the Galaxy, led by a jealous Peter Quill/Star Lord (Chris Pratt) – who’s told that, in contrast to the muscular Norse god, he’s “one sandwich away from being fat.” And there’s a definite thrill in watching Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) and Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland) do battle alongside King T’Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Okeye (Danai Gurira), the head of his female army, in the fields of Wakanda.

If I haven’t called your favorite Avengers name yet, that means this movie is not giving them the attention they deserve. Colonel James Parker/War Machine (Don Cheadle ), Sam Wilson/Falcon( Anthony Mackie) and Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (a ready-to-play Scarlett Johansson) are mostly along for the ride. It could have used way more of Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier – who the directors, Anthony and Joe Russo brothers handled with genuine complexity in two Captain America films, The Winter Soldier and Civil War. As for Ant-Man, he barely merits a namecheck, much less an appearance.

In an attempt to cram everything in, the Russos – working from a busy script by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely – let themselves get sidetracked. The unifying plot thread revolves around Thanos, an intergalactic tyrant with a purple face and a chin the Star Lord insists looks like a nutsack. (He’s not wrong.) Hailing from an extinct alien planet destroyed by overpopulation, the villain stands 12-feet tall and shouts from his own rooftop that he must destroy half the world to save the other half. Thunderously voiced by a dynamite Josh Brolin in a motion-capture performance that radiates ferocity and unexpected feeling, Thanos is the menace that bonds the bickering factions of Avengers so they can once again act as one to bring him down. As the cosmic bad guy goes on a rampage through space to collect the six Infinity Stones that will give him supreme power, the filmmakers keep throwing superheroes at him to stop his genocidal plan.

Long story short: The Avengers and friends spend a lot of time getting their asses kicked. To say how, exactly, would qualify as spoilers.) But the fight scenes that swing randomly from exciting to chaotic, are technical wonders. To take the chill off the FX, the film offers a love story. Not the Scotland-based one between Vision (Paul Bettany) and Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), which is given too little screen time to resonate. But the one between Thanos and his two adopted daughters, the green-skinned Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and the blue-skinned Nebula (Karen Gillan), who both want to kill Big Daddy for turning them into soldiers as children. It’s another factor that enables Brolin to build a character worthy of pity and terror. Thanos is a Marvel villain for the ages thanks to the actor, who gives this Mad Titan a tragic dimension and damn near steals the movie.

Internet buzz has long indicated that a few Avengers bite the dust in Infinity War – and it should be pointed out that the script plays fast and loose with the permanency of death. There are reasons for this. A second chapter, filmed at the same time and set for release next year, will surely wrap up the mystery over whose In Memoriams will stick. But the temporary tragedies of the plot work against the film’s narrative momentum and remove its sting. How long can you fake out audiences without pissing them off? Avengers: Infinity War leaves viewers up in the air, feeling exhilarated and cheated at the same time, aching for a closure that never comes … at least not yet. The Russo brothers have clearly never learned the concept that less is more. They’ve used the premise of an Avengers reunion to put on a fireworks explosion of action and laughs (those roguish Guardians!) that won’t quit. 

But – there’s always a butInfinity War is still only half a movie, with loose ends dangling and a nagging sense of opportunities missed. Of course, no Marvel junkie would think of missing the film and the chance to decode its subtext. And almost everyone agrees that the ending works like gangbusters. Why? Because Thanos keeps us riveted and eager for what’s next. Bring it on.

‘Super Troopers 2’ Review: Cult Comedy’s Sequel Is a Cop-Out

Attention all you Super Trooperheads, you Trooperphiles, you maple-syrup–guzzling guys with your #MeowToo hashtags at the ready – your prayers, for better or worse, have finally been answered and crowd-funded. Chances are you either squealed with delight upon the news of a second Super Troopers flick, before strapping on your bulletproof cup and threatening to pistol-whip the next guy that says “shenanigans” … or you shrugged. They call ’em cult movies for a reason, and the 2001 tale of Vermont highway patrolmen-behaving-badly by the Broken Lizard troupe is really a you’re-in-or-you’re-out phenomenon. You either discovered the comedy courtesy of a buddy and turned the film’s punchlines and nut-punches into a shared secret handshake, or you knew almost nothing about it. You either find concepts like Afghanistanimation and seeing how many times you can sneak a cat-noise into a routine traffic stop insanely hilarious or you do not.

So yes, if the idea of spending more time with the alpha officer Thorny (director Jay Chandrasekhar), the “mini Burt Reynolds” Mac (Steve Lemme), the record-holding meower Foster (Paul Soter), the rookie Rabbit (Erik Stolhanske) and the blustery douchebag Farva (Kevin Heffernan) makes you giddy, then have at this long-awaited sequel. After an opening sequence involving a cop-rock group called Cracklin’ Bacon, a tour-bus shoot-out, American Pie‘s Stifler and Damon Wayans Jr., we find out that our troopers are now working in construction and landscaping. They’ve long since lost their jobs – something about a ride-along with Fred Savage gone awry. Then the gents are summoned by good ol’ Captain O’Hagan (Brian Cox) to a cabin in the woods. A small town in Canada has, thanks to a redrawing of border maps, now become part of the United States. If they want their jobs back, they can have them so long as they keep the locales in line. “I love Canada!” one of them says. “Ha! Good one!” replies O’Hagan.

Oh, there’s plenty of digs on our neighbors up yonder, what with their politeness and outrageous French accents and all. There’s a former hockey star turned mayor named Guy LeFranc (Rob Lowe, having fun) who says things like “Great Tim Horton’s Ghost!” and a cultural attaché (Emmanuelle Chriqui) who flirts and cracks wise. There are three stoogish mounties, including one played by actual modern-day Three Stooge Will Sasso with Curly-level verve. As for the Americans, we get razzed for refusing to acknowledge the metric system and for being fat and imperialistic and obnoxiously entitled, which, y’know, fair enough. Someone gets kicked in the crotch within the first five minutes, and beaned in the head with a soccer ball within the first 20. Farva, characteristically, acts like a dick. A bear knocks over a Port-a-Potty. Farva acts like a dick some more. 

This would be the part where we tell you more about the plot, which involves a smuggling ring, kind of, but hey, whatever. Or where we’d detail more of the jokes to give you a sense of how the humor informs the story, but most of them fizzle as much on the page as they do onscreen. (You could say that a running gag about Thorny becoming moody and irrational because he’s taken female hormones wears out its welcome, but that would assume it was welcome in the first place.) The Lizards have said they wanted to avoid a greatest-hits reprise of the first film’s gags – which doesn’t mean that there isn’t a callback to the “Meow” bit or that there isn’t a Canadian take-off on Farva’s favorite chain restaurant, called Chicanery’s. 

But the problem here isn’t excessive pandering; the sheer existence of this second movie is already 100-percent fan service. It’s that it doesn’t give you much beyond a very subjective view of what these guys find hilarious. The direction could be described as “maybe point a camera this way?” The acting can be summarized as variations of “ain’t we stinkers.” The editing, so crucial to comedy, feels allergic to anything close to timing. They wanted to make a sequel that stood on its own. Credit them, at least, for making one that falls flat on its own. 

It makes sense that cops are huge fans of the original, since so much of it revolved around guys with guns and uniforms fucking with passerbys and each other out of sheer boredom. That’s not a dig: You understand how they might relate to whiling away long hours of tedium via pranks and [ahem] shenanigans, a sensation that Troopers 2 nails to a tee. (Any resemblance to what happens here in the name of funny business and headlines involving too many real police encounters is completely coincidental. Your ability to laugh at the sight of people abusing power, however, will still be tested.)  It’s also not surprising that college-age stoners helped turn this into a genuine fan-favorite and a grassroots cause célèbre, given that both Troopers movies are less narratives than loosely collected scenes that bump into each other and work best when you’re blazed. 

That is a bit of a dig, and while you can describe tons of comedy classics that way – what’s the “plot” of Animal House? Caddyshack? – there’s a sense of comic forward momentum and inventiveness in those films that’s lacking here. It’s just bros with badges, acting bro-y. Super Troopers 2 isn’t going to win over new converts. It’s a new set of in-jokes for old fans, a snickering preaching to the choir. Everyone else will be just as mystified by the aggressiveness and niche appeal of this one as the last one, feel just as left out in the cold. They have given the cult what they wanted, and they owe the rest of us nothing. In that respect, they deliver on both counts.

Comics on Film: Why No News About ‘The Batman’ Is Good News


Justice League


Given today’s climate of constant news, speculation and commentary concerning our favorite characters at the movies, sometimes it can be frustrating when all of the theories and and ideas ultimately go unrequited. Some fans even find themselves panicking at the lack of new developments concerning their favorite franchises and characters, thinking that the old adage just doesn’t hold true. Instead, they think “no news is bad news.”


In no place are these feelings more obvious than the uncertain climate surrounding the future of DC Comics-based films outside of Wonder Woman 2Aquaman and Shazam, most specifically in relation to the Dark Knight himself, Batman.


Here are just a few reasons why you shouldn’t be all that concerned about a lack of news concerning Batman’s next cinematic adventure, currently under the control of director Matt Reeves.


 


Batman Is Important to Warner Bros.


Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice


This is the primary reason that you really don’t need to worry about the future of Batman at the movies. Of all of the DC Comics characters in WB’s library of IP, even in spite of the fact that they’re beginning to branch out beyond the core characters they’ve mostly relied on for decades, Batman represents the most popular superhero character owned in the entire vast Warner Bros. empire.


Movies featuring Batman at the box office have collectively grossed a total of $5 billion at the global box office since 1989, not to mention the plethora of other revenue streams they have access to through Batman in the form of merchandising, video games, TV projects, etc. Batman’s grasp of popular culture over the course of his entire existence is virtually unparallelled.


Those truths by themselves almost ensure the future of Batman in theaters, making the next Batman movie a perennial question of “when,” not “if.” While the form that Batman may take in his next movie could fluctuate, the character himself is never too far behind when it comes to upcoming superhero movies – not in the modern era, anyway.


 


Matt Reeves Recently Expressed His Enthusiasm for the Movie


Dawn of the Planet of the Apes


Warner Bros. seems convinced that Reeves is the right filmmaker to next bring Batman to life, and though rumors seem to be flying about the next Batman movie faster than even the most skilled movie reporter can keep up with, Reeves himself is still publicly all in on directing the next Batman film. On Twitter earlier this very month, the director was asked about whether or not he felt Batman, as a project, was progressing to his satisfaction.


Almost without missing a beat — and completely not obligated on any level whatsoever to actually answer the question — Reeves did decide to publicly comment on the question:


If Reeves thought that he didn’t want to keep going with the project or that it wasn’t progressing at a pace he was at least a little happy with, he could’ve very easily stayed silent, with the initial tweet passing like most tweets directed at celebrities usually are. Instead, not only did he answer the question, but he expressed a fair amount of enthusiasm concerning how he thought the movie — and his involvement in it — was moving along.


However things end up shaking out, his tweet likely shouldn’t be a reason to hit the proverbial “panic button.”


 


Are Batman’s Days Numbered?


Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice


All of these factors should basically funnel into this conclusion. If the so-called “DC Extended Universe” is fundamentally re-oriented after the current slate of releases come and go, the only question this really puts into the conversation surrounding Batman is who exactly will play him.


While the perspective of Comics on Film has always been that Ben Affleck has made for a very solid modern Dark Knight at the movies, the actor himself may very well feel that he may not want to put the cowl on again.


If he left the part behind, then Affleck would be one of the actors with the fewest years behind the mask in the character’s cinematic history, but the ultimate path of his involvement has yet to be decided either, at least publicly and definitively. While it would be a shame to see Affleck’s Batman go before he had a real chance to make his mark on the character felt in a solo film of his very own, it would also likely be beneficial to the project at-large for him to step aside if his heart just isn’t in it. But we hope that it is, and that he’ll bring the same hard-edged intensity he exhibited with Batman the first time to the next cinematic adventure of one of the world’s greatest superheroes.


 


What do you hope to see from the next Batman movie? Do you want it to be in the DCEU? Maybe you want it to be totally disconnected from everything else? What kinds of villains would you want to see? Robin, or no Robin?

The Week in Movie News: ‘A Quiet Place’ Made Some Noise, Plus ‘Solo,’ ‘The Meg’ and More


Need a quick recap on the past week in movie news? Here are the highlights:


 


Ready Player One


BIG NEWS


A Quiet Place is a huge hit: John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place surprised at the box office by becoming one of the biggest horror hits of all time, and now we’re likely to get a sequel plus more substantial projects for the actor-turned-director. Read more on the success here, see what’s next for Krasinski and Emily Blunt here and what A Quiet Place 2 could entail here. 


 


Lincoln


GREAT NEWS


The Fast and the Furious spin-off gets a great director: While promoting his new movie Rampage, Dwayne Johnson gave an update on his upcoming Fast and the Furious spin-off with Jason Statham, and the Hobbs and Shaw team-up also officially signed on director David Leitch. Read more on that and other Johnson projects here.


 


Lincoln


SURPRISING NEWS


Atomic Blonde sequel is happening: Speaking of Leitch and actors from the Fast and the Furious movies, Charlize Theron shared news that an Atomic Blonde sequel is actually in development, despite the original not seeming like a big hit. Read more here.


 



COOL CULTURE


Marvel thanks the fans: As both a promotion for the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War and a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the stars of the franchise took a moment to thank the fans for helping with the success. Watch the special video below. 



 



MUST-WATCH TRAILERS


Solo: A Star Wars Story has a good feeling: A full trailer for Solo: A Star Wars Story arrived with a lot more scenes featuring the title character, plus a tease of Chewbacca’s wife and a special connection to another Star Wars movie. Watch it below.



 



A Kid Like Jake sets a mood: Claire Danes and Jim Parsons star as parents of a gender-nonconforming child in the indie drama A Kid Like Jake, which opens in June. Watch the first trailer for the movie below. 



 



The Meg makes a big splash: The giant prehistoric shark movie The Meg dropped its ridiculously awesome first trailer with Jason Statham taking on a megalodon. Watch it below.


‘It: Chapter Two’ Casts Bill Hader and James McAvoy; Here’s What We Know So Far


It


First the fans asked for Jessica Chastain, and they got her. Then they asked for Bill Hader, and now they’ve got him. Fans have been suggesting stars for It: Chapter Two ever since the release of It last fall (some have even made fake trailers to go with the suggestions), but that happens all the time with popular properties. Usually such picks go ignored. 


Just to prove they’re not completely taking advice from the masses, though, Warner Bros. is going with James McAvoy for the role of the adult version of Bill (the fans’ choice has been Patrick Wilson). While still in early negotiations, he’d join the still-in-talks Hader as grown-up Richie, according to Variety, and Chastain as adult Beverly.


Now the studio has four more grown members of The Losers’ Club to find. But here’s what we know about the movie so far:


Who is returning from Chapter One?


Although mostly set 27 years after the events of It, the sequel is expected to feature the young ensemble from the first movie in flashback capacity. Bill Sarsgard will also reprise his role as the title creature who takes the common form of Pennywise the Clown.


Who make up the grown-up Losers?


As of this casting, we’ve just got the three: Jessica Chastain taking over from Sophia Lillis for Beverly, Bill Hader taking over from Finn Wolfhard as Richie, and James McAvoy playing the leader Bill, played as a kid by Jaeden Lieberher.



What is the plot of Chapter Two?


The sequel is set 27 years later — that’d be 2016 — and the members of The Losers’ Club have all moved away from Derry. But when Pennyrise returns for his usual haunting as well as revenge on the group for defeating him in 1989, they reunite to take him on again. As previously revealed, flashbacks will be key to continuing the story.


Who is directing this time?


Andy Muschietti, who directed It, is fortunately back at the helm for the sequel. He also has history with Chastain, having directed her in Mama.


Who wrote the script for the sequel?


Gary Dauberman, who penned the final draft of the script for the first movie, is also back to further adapt Stephen King’s novel. 


When does filming begin?


As reported this week by IndieWire, It: Chapter Two will begin production in July. Producer Roy Lee told the website, “The script is still being finalized and the locations are currently being scouted in anticipation of shooting then.”


When does the movie come out?


It: Chapter Two is due in theaters on September 6, 2019, almost exactly two years after the first movie’s release date.


Exclusive ‘A Kid Like Jake’ Trailer: Watch It Now


Claire Danes Jim Parson A Kid Like Jake


Nowadays, parents tend to be more sensitively attuned to the development of their children than in past generations. So when their 4-year-old child Jake begins to show signs that he is nonconforming, his loving parents Alex (Claire Danes) and Greg (Jim Parsons) struggle to adjust their own expectations.


Our exclusive trailer for A Kid Like Jake effectively sets the mood. Alex and Greg are excited yet apprehensive about starting young Jake off on the right foot at school, but they slowly come to realize that new, possibly greater challenges await.


Octavia Spencer also stars. Watch the timely trailer below. Make plans now to see A Kid Like Jake when it opens in theaters on June 8.


Donnie Yen and More Join Disney’s Live-Action ‘Mulan’: What We Can Expect


Rogue One: A Star Wars Story


We first heard about Disney’s plans to make a new version of their animated film Mulan just over three years ago. The project is picking up speed now with the announcement that three major stars have been cast in key roles. What can we expect from the live-action Mulan?


 


Why could this be especially important for Disney?


In March 2015, we noted: “It’s a fairly standard retelling of a classic Chinese story about a young woman who hides her identity, enrolls in the army and becomes an unlikely warrior, icon and hero. But it’s that last part that could easily make this a huge movie for Disney.”


“International box office matters more and more in this day and age, and one of the most important markets in the world is China. So a big budget Disney movie about a Chinese legend already has a big, big advantage.”


 


Who will star as Mulan?


Forbidden Kingdom


A global casting search was launched in October 2016 to locate an actress to play the lead role, which finally bore fruit in November 2017 with the announcement that Liu Yifei (also known as Crystal Liu) will star.


She appeared in The Forbidden Kingdom (above), starring Jackie Chan and Jet Li, back in 2008. Last year the actress starred in the fantasy Once Upon a Time and the war drama The Chinese Widow.


 


Who has just joined the cast?


Donnie Yen (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, top) will play Commander Tung, according to Deadline. He’s described as Mulan’s mentor and teacher; it’s not clear yet if he’s intended to be the equivalent of Captain Li Shang, a military commander and possible love interest in the animated film, or another role. Yen has enjoyed a long career as a big star in Asia; he recently appeared in xXx: Return of Xander Cage


The Expendables 3


Jet Li (The Expendables 3, above) is in final talks to portray the emperor of China, per THR. In the animated film, it’s a key supporting role. As noted above, he previously appeared with Liu Yifei in The Forbidden Kingdom. He remains a huge star in Asia, though his career in Hollywood never took off as it should have, especially in view of his physical and dramatic talents as showcased in dozens of films over more than 30 years.


Curse of the Golden Flower


Gong Li (Curse of the Golden Flower, above) will play the villain of the piece, per THR. The role is that of a “powerful witch.” That is a departure from the animated film, which featured an invading army led by a powerful male warrior. Li first came to notice in the 1980s as the star of several films made by the critically-acclaimed Zhang Yimou, with whom she’s continued to work. More recently she’s costarred in Memoirs of a Geisha, Miami Vice and Hannibal Rising; she has also continued busy acting in Asian films.


Xena Tang has also been cast as the sister of Mulan. Though the character does not appear in the animated version or in the original poem that served as its inspiration, Mulan became “sworn sisters” with a fellow female warrior in a 17th century story that drew from the original poem.


 


Who will direct?


McFarland USA


Niki Caro. Her credits include Whale Rider, McFarland, USA (above) and The Zookeeper’s Wife, all critically well-received films. The latter title, starring Jessica Chastain, was a fine period drama that develops into a suspense thriller, which is similar to the arc of Disney’s animated version of Mulan and could conceivably serve as a template for the new Mulan.


Caro said that she intends to make “a big, girly martial arts epic. It will be extremely muscular and thrilling and entertaining and moving.” So don’t expect to hear Eddie Murphy reprising his voice role as Mushu, the miniature dragon.



 


When can we see it?


We have to wait until March 20, 2020 before Mulan opens in theaters, almost exactly 22 years after the animated version.

Dwayne Johnson Updates on the ‘Fast and the Furious’ Spin-Off, ‘Black Adam,’ ‘Doc Savage’ and ‘Jumanji 3’


Furious 7


Dwayne Johnson has a new movie out this weekend — the video game adaptation Rampage — but while promoting that release he’s also been talking about future projects. Find updates on four of his biggest forthcoming projects below.


 


David Leitch to direct the Fast and the Furious spin-off:


One of the most anticipated movies in Johnson’s future is the spin-off to the Fast and the Furious series focused on his and Jason Statham’s characters, Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw. Following the duo’s scenes as bickering rivals in The Fate of the Furious, fans have been longing for more of just the two of them, and Universal is really going to make it happen. 


According to Entertainment Weekly, the movie (rumored to be titled Hobbs and Shaw) has officially found its director in David Leitch, the former stunt person turned helmer of Atomic BlondeJohn Wick (with Chad Stahelski) and the upcoming Deadpool 2. What can we expect from the movie besides the obvious? Johnson told Fandango this week that the script is great, but all you need to know is that Statham is going to take a serious beating. Is he just instigating some fun promotional beef? Watch below.


 


 



One More Year for Black Adam:


Another character of his we haven’t yet seen, despite him technically being cast in the role more than a decade ago, is Black Adam. But someday we’ll see the DC supervillain on screen, Johnson promises. The actor recently told Yahoo Entertainment the following: 


The script came in, it’s great, we’re working on it…If things come together in the way we anticipate them coming together, that feels like a 2019 movie.


Presumably he means a 2019 production, as in the solo Black Adam feature will start shooting sometime next year. Whether we can expect to see the character before then is unsure. Fans are still holding out hope Johnson will make a cameo in Shazam!, which is currently filming. Black Adam is the archnemesis of the film’s title superhero, after all. He also has been rumored as a possibility for Suicide Squad 2, which might begin shooting later this year. 


Regardless, the delay on Black Adam is for the benefit of the movie, ultimately. Johnson told Yahoo:


It’s this phenomenal opportunity for us to nail the tone and make sure he’s badass…Also we have intrinsic DNA tied to a lot of other properties in DC.


Johnson also told Yahoo that part of the delay has been because of Marvel’s success:


Marvel is doing such an incredible job of universe building … and DC is doing a great job finding the footing and tone of their movies.


Ironically, Johnson has had the part of Black Adam as long as the Marvel Cinematic Universe has existed. So the build up there is tremendous. Hopefully, the phrase ‘better late than never’ will apply. 


 


Doc Savage is stuck:


Another iconic character Johnson has been set to play is Doc Savage, a pulp 1930s hero bred by scientists to be the perfect specimen of strength and intelligence. We could now apparently use such a smart and mighty hero to figure out the logistics of getting the movie on track, since Johnson told Collider the project, set to be made by Shane Black, has hit a snag. He says:


First of all, I love Shane Black and we’ve had multiple meetings on that project that we were going to work on. Right now, Shane’s doing things. I’m doing things. That project had a few issues, not creative issues but more so business affairs issues — where the project once was, who had rights to it, where we were trying to move it to. There was a lot of that, which we’re still kind of working through. At the end of the day, Shane’s such a spectacular writer or director, but whether it’s that project or something else, we’ve made a pact that we’re going to work together at some point in our careers.


 


Another Jumanji is officially happening:


Johnson maintained his reputation as a good luck charm for franchises recently with the enormous success of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. While out promoting Rampage, he learned that another movie is now officially happening with him and the rest of the main cast, so he excitedly took to Instagram to share the news.


And Johnson also wanted to say that Statham isn’t the only co-star about to get whooped (watch out, Kevin Hart). Watch the social media video:


Charlize Theron Is Working on ‘Atomic Blonde 2’


Atomic Blonde


Even before the action thriller Atomic Blonde (above) opened wide in theaters last summer, talk about a sequel was brewing. Screenwriter Kurt Johnstad said: “I’m prepared for a sequel. Charlize [Theron] was really looking for a character-driven action movie and I told her, ‘I’m going to write this script like your character is a guy, and every guy is going to wish they were your character. I’m going to create your Bourne franchise.’ I see it as three movies. It might be more.”


Around the same time, director David Leitch (Deadpool 2) commented on sequel possibilities: “We’re in discussions and I think everyone involved in the creative wants to do it. It will just be … we’ll see how well the film does, and fingers crossed people want to see [Charlize Theron’s] Lorraine go on more adventures! I’d be happy to do it!”



Made on a modest budget (reportedly $30 million), Atomic Blonde ultimately earned more than $95 million at the box office worldwide. Set during the so-called Cold War in 1989, around the time the Berlin Wall was torn down, Charlize Theron stars as Lorraine Broughton, a British secret agent who is sent to Germany on a dangerous mission to recover a stolen list of other secret agents.  


Last November, Leitch teased a possible time period for a sequel: “I think we take [Lorraine] into the ’90s,” Leitch said. “I think that there’s fertile ground. And there’s a lot of people that are already buzzing about, ‘Hey, we should do it, we want to see the character again.’ … Lorraine Broughton is a really compelling, fun character. There’s a lot of wish fulfillment in her, for both men and women.”



Now Theron has confirmed that the film is in development. “We’re working on a sequel,” she said during a tribute at the San Francisco International Film Festival (via Indiewire). She offered no other details.


Throughout her career, Theron has appeared in a wide variety of films. After the action thrillers The Fast and the Furious and Atomic Blonde last year, for example, she costarred in the comedy Gringo, which debuted on the Amazon Prime streaming service in March.


Next she will be seen in the starring role in the comedy-drama Tully as an exhausted mother of three who forms a unique bond with her new night nanny (Mackenzie Davis). It opens in theaters on May 4.




 


Next year will see the release of Flarsky, in which she stars opposite Seth Rogen and Andy Serkis in a comedy that is being directed by Jonathan Levine (Snatched). Beyond that, we hope to see Atomic Blonde 2!

Travers on ‘The Rider’: Indie About Ex-Rodeo Star Is ‘Unmissable’

Here’s a movie that’s in no rush to work a path into your head and heart. It’s the intent of Chinese-American filmmaker Chloé Zhao to carve a story out of the real lives of the people she puts on screen; her docu-fiction technique was what distinguished her striking 2015 feature debut Songs My Brothers Taught Me, set among the Lakota Sioux in South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Zhao’s follow-up is set in the same area, and again uses non-pro actors to achieve a realism Hollywood can only dream of achieving. Once The Rider hooks you – and believe me, it will – there’s no way you will ever forget it. 

The remarkable Brady Jandreau – a star in the making with no acting experience to lean on – tackles the central role of Lakota cowboy Brady Blackburn, a 20-year-old saddle-bronc rider and horse trainer who lives for the rodeo. Then a bronc bucks him hard in the skull and puts him in a three-day coma; the doc says another kick like that will kill him. As it is, Brady, his fingers gnarled in a permanent curl, is already feeling a dizziness and weakness as foreign to him as a desk job. Zhao knew Brady before and after his similar real-life accident and uses – notice we don’t say exploits – his feelings about how competition define a life to construct a film of touching gravity and rare grace. 

She also enlisted the actor’s own family and friends, playing barely fictionalized versions of themselves to add to the authenticity. That’s Tim Jandreau as Brady’s hardcase gambler father and Lilly Jandreau as his on-the-spectrum sister, whose emotions flow as freely as the white river on the reservation. Tensions rise when Dad – Mom is dead – sells his son’s favorite horse just to keep a roof over their heads. Even in a beat-up trailer, a day-to-day existence is difficult to maintain since Brady’s rodeo earnings dry up.

Zhao never resorts to crass manipulation and tearjerking to hold audience attention. The soul of The Rider resides in its people, proud members of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe. They include Brady’s best friend Lane (Lane Scott), a bull rider paralyzed by a car accident that injured his brain and keeps him in rehab, a shadow of his former self. Brady finds solace for a while in training wild horses, a job he’s being doing since childhood when he showed a natural empathy for building trust in animals that won’t be saddled and forced to conform. In these training scenes, Zhao and cinematographer Joshua James Richards achieve a delicate visual beauty that beggars description. 

Set against the stunning vistas of the American heartland, The Rider explores the physical and
psychological impact on a modern cowboy who feels useless if he can’t do what
he was born to do. Should he risk his life for his idea of what gives him value?
Zhao explores these questions with an artist’s eye and a deep respect for the
dignity of what makes us human. Her film is as indelible as it is unmissable.