The Underrated Captain America and Jumanji Director Joe Johnston Deserves More Respect

Joe Johnston’s 1991 superhero movie The Rocketeer begins in the usual way, with orange opening credits against a black screen. Only the slight tinkling of piano hints at something greater, little notes of inspiration under the art deco script on display. Sure enough, after the title reveal, the score pauses. The black screen is revealed to actually be the doors of a hangar bay, and the strings in James Horner’s score rise to a crescendo. They are announcing the hopes hanging on the yellow biplane that emerges. A warm, confident scene of pilot Cliff Secord (Billy Campbell) proving to his…
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Captain America Brave New World Trailer Breakdown: Red Hulk, Giancarlo Esposito as GW Bridge?

Sam Wilson is ready to pick up the shield, and not a moment too soon. The first trailer for Captain America: Brave New World has dropped. Anthony Mackie’s feature debut as Cap feels more like a thriller from the 1990s, and not just because it has Harrison Ford in a presidential role. Directed by Julius Onah and co-written by The Falcon and the Winter Soldier showrunner Malcolm Spellman, Brave New World deals with a conspiracy within the White House, which means a lot of folks in nice clothes pulling guns and looking concerned in boardrooms. But as Captain America: The…
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The Imaginary Review: Netflix’s New Animated Movie Is Perfect for Studio Ghibli Fans

The world of The Imaginary is as lush and enchanting as you’d expect if you’re familiar with the artists behind the onscreen magic. It’s the second feature film from Studio Ponoc, an animation house led by Studio Ghibli alums. And much like their debut feature, Mary and the Witch’s Flower, The Imaginary is a deluge of cinematic delights and confections supported by a touching story that leaves you with a fuller heart than you had going in. The movie is based on a novel by A.F. Harrold and centers on Rudger (voiced in the English dub by Louie Rudge-Buchanan), the…
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Longlegs Ending Explained with Director Oz Perkins

This article contains major Longlegs spoilers. A mother is dead. A whole other family is ruined. And a doll survives. These are the sinister details which sum up the final scene of Longlegs, Oz Perkins’ nasty little mash-up of serial killer thrillers with “the devil made me do it” religious horror movies. In the film’s closing moments, poor Lee Harker (Maika Monroe) at last understands that her own mother Ruth (Alicia Witt) is the accomplice to Nicolas Cage’s “Longlegs” serial killer. And though the fiend is dead, dear mom was still in service to “Mr. Downstairs.” Hence the ending of…
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Great Movies That Should Have Ended Earlier

Frank Herbert once said there is no real ending. It’s just where you stop the story. This is perhaps ironic given the author famously wrote six Dune novels without ever coming to a final satisfying conclusion to his millennia-spanning saga. But then knowing when and how to stop has always remained an elusive challenge for storytellers, even when they’re working at the height of their craft. The history of cinema is littered with many great films that seemed to breeze right past the most obvious grace note in favor of underlining, expanding, or even subverting a theme or idea integral…
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How Fly Me to the Moon Attempts to Handle Danger of the Moon Landing Conspiracy Theory

This article contains Fly Me to the Moon spoilers. It’s a breathtaking shot. More than 50 years after the world watched Neil Armstrong take his one small step for man, and his one giant leap for all mankind, we now see those steps toward the lunar surface from Armstrong’s point-of-view. As the door to the Apollo 11 capsule opens, it is from the astronauts’ perspective we glimpse the fresh, unvarnished moon rock awaiting human footprints. If this image felt faintly familiar while watching Greg Berlanti’s Fly Me to the Moon, a fusion of the an old school ‘90s romantic comedy…
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Longlegs: Oz Perkins and Nicolas Cage Find Sympathy for the Devil Worshipper

It might seem an unusual place to start from, but for director and actor alike, Longlegs is a film about mothers. Their mothers. The very idea of it is a curious admission since Longlegs is an infinitely disturbing hybrid of the religious horror movie and the serial killer thriller. Yet Oz Perkins still makes the point while discussing how the movie’s script brought him and Nicolas Cage together—and with the latter playing one of the most disturbing characters to date in Cage’s oeuvre. Set in the 1990s, Longlegs is a period piece which revisits the era when the serial killer…
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South Park: Trey Parker and Matt Stone Went to War to Stop the Movie Getting a PG-13

“Let’s make an R-rated cartoon about an R-rated cartoon coming out” was the original concept pitched when Matt Stone and Trey Parker were developing their classic animated musical opus, South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut. Twenty-five years later, it remains a brilliantly meta idea. But before Canada-blaming glory, South Park’s road to the silver screen was paved with many blockades, mainly from within their parent company of Viacom, which owned both Comedy Central and Paramount Pictures, and their biggest formidable foe, the then-named Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).  And as if it wasn’t ironic enough, the biggest bone of contention…
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Eyes Wide Shut’s Ending with Nicole Kidman Is Darker Than You Remember

At the end of Eyes Wide Shut, Dr. Bill Harford and his wife Alice come together in that most normative of spaces: an FAO Schwarz toy store. As they watch their daughter look at potential presents, Bill feebly tries to explain his sexual sojourn through the city we just watched, one prompted by Alice’s confession of lust for a random sailor. Upon the completion of Bill’s story, Alice declares, “There is something we need to do as soon as possible.” What’s that, her husband and the audience asks? Fuck.” The camera holds on her face for a beat or two…
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Gladiator 2 Trailer Reveals the Major Connection to the First Film

Gladiator doesn’t seem like the type of movie that demands a sequel. Sure, it won the Academy Award for Best Picture, and sure, director Ridley Scott is still going strong more than two decades later. But the story of Maximus had a definitive arc and ending. As portrayed by Russell Crowe, the general-turned-gladiator Maximus died after leading a revolt against Rome and the corrupt Emperor Commodus (a wild Joaquin Phoenix). So what is the point of a sequel 20 years later? Yes, the empire limps on for a few more centuries, but that’s not enough to justify a direct sequel…
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The Lie of Jason Takes Manhattan’s Marketing Still Hurts Friday the 13th Fans

“New York has a new problem,” declared the tagline for Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, complete with a picture of Jason’s hockey mask behind the city’s iconic skyline. To some modern readers, that tagline might seem silly. Sure, New York has its problems, but the arrival of a near-invincible, teleporting killer is orders of magnitude worse than anything currently happening in the Big Apple. Why would producers lump Jason Voorhees in with those other issues? But when the movie released back in 1989, New York City existed in the popular imagination as a cesspool of violence, corruption,…
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The Best Movie Villain Introductions of All Time

Almost nothing’s more important than a first impression. It’s a chance to put your best foot forward and leave a mark that folks will remember. But what if you don’t want them to remember your best foot? What if the impression intended to be left is of five toes digging into their backsides—and crawling under the skin? It’s a funny idea, yet for more than a hundred years filmmakers have reached for exactly such visceral reactions to character introductions and entrances. They have striven to create sequences, movie moments, and performances that promise or forewarn of terrible sights to come,…
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Inside Out 2: Why Mindy Kaling and Bill Hader Didn’t Come Back as Disgust and Fear

Joy must be working overtime in the minds of Disney’s higher-ups, because Inside Out 2 continues to make money. Heading into Fourth of July weekend, the film has stayed at number one and looks to drop off small again, even with challenger Despicable Me 4. But before the film released, fans had to deal with one of the new emotions introduced in the film: anxiety. And that’s because Disney Pixar was messing with the formula that made the first film so wonderful by switching out the voices for two of the central character. The first Inside Out from 2015 focused…
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Inside Out 2 Reveals the Secret of Making a Good Pixar Sequel

Inside Out 2 did not feel like a necessary addition to the Pixar canon when it was announced. Why make a sequel to one of the most original, ingenious solo outings in animation history and potentially tamper with the reputation of greatness? Money sure felt like the motivating factor, and Pixar has cashed in to the tune of nearly $1 billion and counting after two-plus weeks at the box office. But jumping inside Riley’s head of emotions for a second time was actually a courageous and rewarding payoff for fans worldwide as they were treated to one of the best…
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Ranking the Best Star Wars Lightsaber Fights Ever

This Star Wars article contains spoilers. Star Wars wouldn’t be Star Wars without lightsabers. The illuminated blades have become an iconic part of the franchise, as have the many characters who wield them. Lightsabers require great skill and mastery, especially when Jedi Master faces Sith Lord. Lightsaber duels are the cornerstone of almost any good Star Wars project, and there have been many thrilling clashes over the franchise’s decades-long history. With so many to choose from, it’s time to look back at the very best duels from the live-action movies and TV series, and rank which is the greatest duel…
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The Best Patriotic Movies to Watch this Fourth of July

The Fourth of July is here, and with America’s birthday comes always the need to get in the patriotic spirit. There are many ways to do that of course. Fireworks are forever the go-to event; backyard barbecues and grills with hot dogs and hamburgers is another. But sometimes you might just want a bit of celluloid magic to remind you why you should care in the first place. Whether you’re looking for a comedy or a drama, some ‘80s “USA, USA” cheese, or a genuine exploration of America’s founding, we’ve got you covered with a list of some of the…
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Superman Set Photos Reveal First Look at Green Lantern Guy Gardner on the Big Screen

This Superman article contains spoilers. There’s only one Green Lantern good enough to handle a high-pressure planet like Earth, and that’s ol’ Guy Gardner. At least, that’s what Guy Gardner would say anytime that someone challenges his credentials. One of the most popular characters in the Green Lantern franchise, Guy Gardner is a brain-damaged braggart and loser who just so happens to have the most powerful weapon in the universe on his finger. He’s a very idiosyncratic character, one hard to get right in other adaptations. Fortunately, James Gunn seemed to be moving in the right direction for Gardner when…
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The Shadow Savaged Its Comic Book Lore and That’s a Good Thing

Deep within the wilderness of Tibet, a warlord called Ying Ko dominates the villagers and consolidates all power for himself. But one day, Ying Ko is captured by a holy man and taken to a mystical temple. The holy man dazzles Ying Ko with displays of magic, none more chilling than when he refers to the warlord, a white American, by his true name: Lamont Cranston. For all the strange choices that director Russell Mulcahy and writer David Koepp make for their 1994 film The Shadow, the titular hero’s origin might be the best. After all, Koepp created this backstory…
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MaXXXine Review: Ti West and Mia Goth Embrace ‘80s Camp

“A B-movie with A-movie ideas.” That is how an eminently driven, and fictional, film director describes the horror movie sequel she’s developing in MaXXXine. Yet Ti West’s assertion through her will be lost on no one walking into this third triumphant installment of the decade’s most unlikely franchise. What began as a lean and mean throwback to ‘70s independent sleaze in all its shadings—from the grindhouse to the porno shop—has turned into a tryptic of longing and ambition, love for cinema’s power and anguish at beholding the full desolation its legacy can bring. When the trilogy concludes this Fourth of…
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Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F Review – Eddie Murphy Still Is Hollywood’s Top Cop

Driving into town in his beat-up Chevy Nova, Detroit detective Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) still cannot believe the sights of Beverly Hills. He looks with bewilderment at high-fashion stores, a man dressed like a rockstar, and a blonde in a Corvette who offers a playful wink despite her boyfriend in the adjoining seat. Foley ends the sequence with his infectious chuckle, out of place in Beverly Hills but not out of ideas. When Foley returns 40 years later for Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F, he repeats the drive in yet another beat-up vehicle. He notices a new set of California…
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