Film Friday will be taking a few weeks off for the holidays. Our weekly column will return on Friday, January 13, 2012. In the interim, we'll post any important news items and new trailers to the Metacritic Twitter feed.
The Men in Black are back
Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are back as Agent J and Agent K in this third installment in the Men in Black series (and first since 2002). This time, Agent J must travel back to 1969 to help a younger Agent K (played by Josh Brolin). Barry Sonnenfeld, director of Men in Black 71 and Men in Black II 49, returns to feature directing for the first time since 2006’s RV 33. Delays and script trouble have been the story so far, but maybe a strong supporting cast that includes Emma Thompson, Alice Eve, Bill Hader, Jermaine Clement, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Rip Torn will provide Men in Black III with the right combination of action and comedy that made the first two films huge hits. Check it out in 3D beginning May 25, 2012.
Sacha Baron Cohen is The Dictator
He’s played Ali G, Borat and Bruno, and now he will play The Dictator. Sacha Baron Cohen stars in this send-up of Middle Eastern despots as a dictator exiled to the United States who is happy to pay Megan Fox for a little time in bed. Baron Cohen also plays a goat herder in the film, but you won’t see that storyline in the trailer (his purported love interest, Anna Faris, is also absent). However, you will see co-stars Ben Kingsley and John C. Reilly hamming it up for director Larry Charles, who helmed both Borat 89 and Bruno 54. The Dictator comes to theaters May 11, 2012.
Will it Rock you?
Adam Shankman, who translated a Broadway hit into a box office and critical success with Hairspray 81, tries to repeat the formula with Rock of Ages, a love story of two young people (Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta) chasing their rock ‘n’ roll dreams in 1987 Los Angeles. The cast is almost as impressive as the wigs some of them are wearing: Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Malin Akerman, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Paul Giamatti, Bryan Cranston, and Russell Brand. The film looks to be shooting for that campy fun zone with the support of music by Twisted Sister, Joan Jett, Def Leppard, Journey, Foreigner, Bon Jovi, and more. Sing along when it hits theaters June 1, 2012.
A first look at G.I. Joe: Retaliation
Jon Chu (Step up 2: The Streets 50 and Step Up 3-D 45) takes over directing duties from Stephen Sommers in the sequel to 2009’s G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra 32. Channing Tatum returns as Duke, Byung-hun Lee as Storm Shadow, Ray Park as Snake Eyes, Arnold Vosloo as Zartan, and Jonathan Pryce as the President. This time, they are joined by Dwayne Johnson as Roadblock, Adrianne Palicki as Lady Jaye, Ray Stevenson as Firefly, Elodie Yung as Jinx, and Bruce Willis as General Joe Colton. G.I. Joe: Retaliation hits theaters June 29, 2012.
The Expendables 2, now featuring more of the same
Little is revealed other than the name of the stars in this quick teaser, but when you don’t need to use first names, the movie should pretty much sell itself. Simon West (The Mechanic 49) directs Stallone, Willis, Schwarzenegger, Statham, Lundgren, Li, Norris and Van Damme in this sequel to 2010’s The Expendables 45. Terry Crews and Randy Couture also return, and Liam Hemsworth is the young newcomer. Check out The Expendables 2 in theaters beginning August 17, 2012.
Nicolas Cage is back in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
Ghost Rider 35 was not exactly a critical success, but it squeaked past its $110 million budget in domestic ticket sales and earned another $113 million in foreign territories, so a sequel was inevitable. After going through a number of different directors before shooting started, the production finally enlisted Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, the duo behind Crank 57, Crank: High Voltage 41, and Gamer 27. Perfect choice, right? Well if early reports from Harry Knowles’ thirteenth Butt-Numb-A-Thon are to be believed, the directors did their best with a limited budget and ridiculous story. Nicolas Cage returns as Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider, and this time he battles Ciaran Hinds as The Devil and Christopher “The Highlander” Lambert. Idris Elba and Violante Placido are along for the ride as well. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance hits theaters February 17, 2012.
The first trailer for Bryan Singer’s Jack the Giant Killer
Bryan Singer returns to feature filmmaking for the first time since 2008’s Valkyrie 56 with this re-telling of closely linked British folktales "Jack and the Beanstalk" and "Jack the Giant Killer." The film stars Nicholas Hoult as a young farmhand who unwittingly unleashes a race of giants, endangering the princess of the kingdom played by Eleanor Tomlinson. Ian McShane, Bill Nighy, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Ewen Bremner, and Warwick Davis fill out the supporting cast. Jack the Giant Killer comes to theaters June 15, 2012.
Charlotte Gainsbourg is a nymphomaniac
Having already appeared in Antichrist 49 and Melancholia 81 for director Lars von Trier, actress/singer Charlotte Gainsbourg is now in talks to star in his next film, Nymphomaniac, reports Variety. Sure, von Trier has driven other actresses crazy—most notably Bjork, who swore to never work with him again after Dancer in the Dark 61—but Gainsbourg has always seemed to embrace the director and the challenges he forces actors to overcome. Early reports on Nymphomaniac reveal that it will be an exploration of female sexuality through age 50, divided into eight chapters, and released in both soft- and hardcore versions. Lets hope Cannes welcomes von Trier back in 2013; we wouldn’t want to miss that press conference.
What if you began losing each of your five senses one by one? That is the new premise for this apocalyptic romance from director David Mackenzie (Spread 43, Mister Foe 62, Asylum 51, Young Adam 67). Ewan McGregor and Eva Green star as a chef and an epidemiologist who fall in love just as the world becomes afflicted with a terrible disease. It’s like Blindness times five, but with a romance at its center. Check out Perfect Sense when it hit theaters February 10, 2012.
Down Terrace 68 director Ben Wheatley’s second feature Kill List played at SXSW, Fantastic Fest and TIFF this year, and will be released February 3 by IFC. The film centers on an out of work hitman who is hired for a new three-kill assignment, but with each subsequent kill is overwhelmed by his own paranoia. Neil Maskell plays Jay, the hitman at the center of the story, and Michael Smiley plays his partner Gal. If you can't wait until February, Kill List will also hit VOD January 4.
Think Like a Man
Tim Story, director of Fantastic Four 40 and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer 45, attempts to translate Steve Harvey’s best-selling non-fiction book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy, and Commitment to the big screen in this romantic comedy starring Taraji P. Henson, Gabrielle Union, Meagan Good, Regina Hall, Kevin Hart, Chris Brown, Michael Ealy, J.B. Smoove, and Jerry Ferrara. Steve Harvey also makes an appearance as himself. Think Like a Man comes to theaters March 9, 2012.
Tyler Perry's next Tyler Perry movie starring Tyler Perry
Tyler Perry has a string of hits unrivaled by pretty much anyone in Hollywood, but he’s been unable to garner wide critical acclaim for any of his films as a writer/director. Maybe Good Deeds will break the streak. This is not the film in which Kim Kardashian will make her “acting” debut (that would be another upcoming Perry project, The Marriage Counselor). Instead, Good Deeds follows Perry as a successful businessman on the verge of marrying Gabrielle Union until Thandie Newton’s single mom complicates his life. See it in theaters beginning February 24, 2012.
Christian Bale and Zhang Yimou team for The Flowers of War
Zhang Yimou’s film career spans more than two decades and includes films like Ju Do, Raise the Red Lantern, Hero 84, House of Flying Daggers 89, and 2010’s A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop 57. His latest, and recent Golden Globe nominee for best foreign-language film, is Flowers of War, in which Christian Bale plays an American posing as a priest in an attempt to save lives during the 1937 Nanking Massacre. The film is based on Yan Geling’s novel The 13 Women of Nanjing, which tells the story of prostitutes who took the place of female university students selected to become “escorts” to the invading Japanese soldiers. The film will be released in a handful of theaters in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco next week before expanding in 2012. Todd McCarthy has an early review over at THR.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi (and it's making us hungry)
If you like sushi, prepare to get very, very hungry. David Gelb’s first feature documentary is a look at 85-year-old master sushi chef Jiro Ono. The film looks at his relationship with his son, his drive for perfection and the operation of his restaurant, Sukiyabashi Jiro. Watch it and then go grab some sushi afterwards. Jiro Dreams of Sushi opens March 9, 2012.
Thor 2 and an unhappy Natalie Portman
Since Patty Jenkins departed Thor 2, Marvel has been searching for her replacement, and Heat Vision reports that Alan Taylor and Daniel Minahan are in the running. Taylor has been directing TV recently (Game of Thrones, Bored to Death, Mad Men) and his last two features were Kill the Poor 52 and The Emperor’s New Clothes 60. Minahan is also a well-known TV director with credits including Game of Thrones, True Blood, and Deadwood. One person unhappy with Jenkins’ departure is Natalie Portman. Word leaked this week that Portman, who is contractually obligated to participate in Thor 2, was so angry that Marvel is now trying to fix the situation by including Portman in the hiring search for the new director.
Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt go Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Lasse Hallström hasn't had much critical success with his recent films (his latest being 2010's Dear John 43), but that might change with Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, his adaptation of the novel by Paul Torday. The romantic comedy stars Ewan McGregor as a British government scientist who reluctantly joins a project to introduce Salmon to the wadis of the Yemen. Emily Blunt and Kristin Scott Thomas also star, and the screenplay comes from Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire 86). Salmon Fishing in the Yemen received good buzz when it debuted at TIFF in the fall, and it will open on March 2, 2012.
Quick notes: Rumors, release dates, casting news and more
- Wes Anderson's next film, Moonrise Kingdom, will open on May 25, 2012 in limited release.
- Newcomer Chadwick Boseman has been cast as Jackie Robinson, and Harrison Ford has been cast as Branch Rickey, in 42, the story of the player who broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier. Brian Helgeland (The Order) will direct from his own script. - Variety
- George Clooney is developing a movie about the Smothers Brothers, the comedy duo best known for their variety show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, which ran from 1967-69 and engendered Richard Nixon’s wrath. The film will be based on the recent book by TV critic David Bianculli. - Deadline
- Check out new posters for The Dark Knight Rises, The Amazing Spider-Man and The Hunger Games.
- If you wondered what happened to Driver after the credits rolled in Drive, James Sallis, who wrote the original novel the film was based on, is writing a sequel, Driven, and here’s the tag line: “Six years later - Phoenix. Out of nowhere someone wants Driver dead. Who? Why? Big mistake...” - LitReactor
- The Blacklist was announced this week. What is it? An annual list of the best unproduced screenplays in Hollywood. - 24 Frames
- Winona Ryder will star alongside Michael Shannon and Chris Evans in The Iceman, the story of mob hitman Richard Kuklinski. Shannon will play Kuklinski, and Ryder will play his wife who was unaware he was a contract killer. - Deadline
- David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo will open a day earlier than originally planned, on December 20 at 7pm. Go buy tickets.
- Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation) is in talks to star in Kathryn Bigelow’s currently untitled film formerly called Kill Bin Laden. - Twitch
- Denzel Washington could star in The Equalizer, based on the television series starring Edward Woodward. - ComingSoon.net
- Saoirse Ronan will star in How I Live Now, a drama based on Meg Rosoff’s novel about a girl from New York City who travels to England to spend the summer with her cousins, when all of a sudden World War III breaks out. Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland) will direct. - Variety
- Stephen Frears (The Queen, High Fidelity) is developing an American remake of his own film, The Hit. - Variety
- Will Gluck (Friends with Benefits) will direct and produce the action-comedy Secretaries Day - Deadline
- Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace will star in Brian De Palma’s remake of the recently released French film, Love Crime 63. - Thompson on Hollywood
- Check out the official site for The Amazing Spider-Man.
- Deadline has info on the first three projects from Amazon Studios.
- Reese Witherspoon will play Pam Hobbs, the mother of one of the victims, in Atom Egoyan's West Memphis Three drama Devil's Knot. - Variety
- Margin Call director J.C. Chandor is in talks to helm All is Lost, a man vs. nature story in which Robert Redford is looking to star. - Deadline
- Sony Pictures Classics announced new release dates for two films that have been well received at festivals around the world. Footnote will be released March 9, 2012, and In Darkness 74 will be arrive on February 10, 2012.
- Being Flynn, the Paul Weitz-directed adaptation of Nick Flynn's memoir Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, will open on March 2, 2012.