Friday, May 22, 2015

The lesson nobody learned from Empire Strikes Back

From ew, The Empire Strikes Back is the best Star Wars movie. And because it’s the only movie without a single victory—because the Rebels lose the Battle of Hoth, and Han gets his carbonite coma, and Luke can’t even fully kill one measly Wampa—its place in history has always been assured as The Dark Star Wars Movie. The movie came out 35 years ago today, and in the ensuing three-plus decades, the easiest way for a nerd-friendly director to dredge up fan excitement over a sequel was to compare it to Empire Strikes Back.

What, precisely, did that mean—to make your franchise’s Empire Strikes Back? The definitions get hazy. Most blockbuster movies don’t let their characters lose. Most blockbuster movies don’t kick off with an Act I battle sequence that ends with everyone you like running away from the bad guy. Most blockbuster movies don’t cut the hands off their handsome protagonists. But the vogue for darkness stuck with geek culture on every level. You don’t really hear directors say their sequel is going to be lighter, or looser, or less serious. Darkness just becomes another buzzword, a marketing trope. (Iron Man 3 is a wacky Shane Black romp with a couple depressive interludes; the first trailer for Iron Man 3makes it look like No Country For Old Men plus bad t-shirts.)

But that whole notion of Empire—the Dark, Mature, Serious one—was always overblown. You want dark?Jaws kills a woman, kills a kid, kills the third lead very, very slowly, chomp chomp chomp. (Empire kills Dak.) You want mature themes? Aliens is the space-Vietnam movie Lucas always wanted to make—andAliens has more than one female character. (Empire Strikes Back and women: Princess Leia, and the lady who says “Stand by Ion Control. Fire.” In the theatrical cut, the Emperor was voiced by a man but played by a woman; thinkpiece ho!) You want a serious movie about the nature of good and evil? Ingmar Bergman awaits.

Counter-argument: The Dark Star Wars Movie is Star Wars. Luke’s cute-sweet aunt and cute-tough uncle get burned to hell. The wacky little Jawas are shot up, their ship spackled with extremely accurate blast points. (Way too accurate for Sand People!) Leia gets Abu Ghraib’d by a probing torture-bot. Alec Guinness was the most famous actor in the movie—and he dies. The villains who aren’t Vader all die. Star Wars is the one Star Wars movie where a lightsaber doesn’t cauterize a wound—by which I mean, the onlyStar Wars movie that acknowledges the existence of blood.

Also, the Death Star blows up an entire populated planet.

Perhaps the real genius of Empire Strikes Back is that it doesn’t try to one-up that moment. Or rather, it doesn’t think that the way to make a better Star Wars movie is to make the threat bigger. The Empire Strikes Back cost twice as much as the first film, but the bigness of the budget doesn’t filter into the movie’s subtext, the way it does into nearly every blockbuster movie made after Don Simpson tried cocaine. The AT-ATs have maybe one-hundred-millionth the kill capacity of a Death Star—but they’re a more interesting nemesis. (The Death Star was a moon with a laser; the AT-ATs are robo-dino Dali monsters.)

And in stark contrast to the first Star Wars, the highest stakes are all frontloaded. The movie’s first act is Empire vs. Rebellion—although it’s not necessarily clear, in the movie, if the ice-planet outpost is meant to be “the Rebellion” or just a squad of the Rebellion. (The opening crawl describes the Hoth HQ as “a group of freedom fighters”—the implication maybe that the Hoth crew is a battalion, not a regiment.) And after the battle is over, the stakes of the movie simplify: Will the Empire catch the Falcon?

Back when he started working on Avengers 2, Joss Whedon expressed a vague hope to make something smaller and more personal. “Smaller” and “more personal” are words that loom large over the George Lucas legend—just behind “faster” and “more intense”—since the man who made Star Wars spent most of his life after Star Wars promising to make smaller, more personal films. (Instead, he made more Star Wars films.)

The consensus history says that Lucas had less to do with Empirethan any other Star Wars movie. It’s impossible to know how true that is—it’s a bit like saying God was less involved in Exodus than Genesis. But on the story level, Empire is smaller, more personal. It puts Han and Leia into one single moving location for half the movie—which means they’re free to banter off each other like screwball hate-lovers, their one-liners bouncing off the walls and over Threepio’s head.

And Empire is the blockbuster movie that treats a spirit journey like an actual spirit journey, with all the introspection and potentially-boring non-action the term implies. Luke has some cool moves on Hoth—and then he speeds off to Dagobah for a long time, hanging out with a puppet mystic and experiencing a profound-for-kids insight into the darkness in his own soul. The stuff on Dagobah is quiet like Star Warsis never quiet: Some of the best moments in the movie are just Yoda sitting peacefully by the bog. You would never describe Empire Strikes Back as slow—it’s a chase movie!—but the smaller stakes give the movie all the grace notes that most big movies can never find time for.

The climactic action sequence of The Empire Strikes Back looks beautiful: A lightsaber duel played out against Cloud City’s central air, imagined onscreen as a neon-smoky Fritz Langtopia. (Nobody ever gives Empire credit for inventing Blade Runner two years early.) But it’s important to remember that all the millions that probably went into that scene are there to support a lightsaber duel: A one-on-one battle between two fully developed characters.

The only other movie in the franchise that doesn’t end with a space battle is Revenge of the Sith—and Episode III gilds the lily with twofinal-act lightsaber duels. Also not helping matters: By Revenge of the Sith, every lightsaber duel looks like awkward white guys dance-fighting at a retirement-home rave.

You start to feel like filmmakers learned the wrong lessons fromEmpire. The Darth Vader twist is cool—but it also leads directly to our modern Abrams/Nolan culture, where everything that happens in a sequel gets treated like a mind-blowing table-flipping plot twist. AndEmpire is also the movie that moves the franchise into Chosen One storytelling; the Emperor declares that Luke “could destroy us”; the everykid from the Tatooine exurbs was secretly the son of the Empire’s Chief Enforcer the whole time. Any sequel that ends with a non-ending cliffhanger can point to the closing moments of Empire—something Joss Whedon himself complained about… presumably before Marvel wedged a few more Infinity Stones into Avengers 2.

Hating on Star Wars movies that came after Empire Strikes Back is, at this point, a boring pastime. But the movies that tried to be Star Warsmovies usually feel like the wrong Star Wars movies. Return of the Jedi brought back the Death Star and the idea that every individual battle was a zero-sum fight between good and evil. The prequels, bless them, are actually trying to be important—It’s about totalitarianism! It’s about the Bush Administration!—but all those big themes turn the characters into listless exposi-bots.

The Empire Strikes Back feels bigger because it’s smaller. It’s more romantic specifically because it doesn’t have time to be romantic. (“I love you.” “I know.”) It doesn’t feel the need to overexplain it’s weirdo detours. In Return of the Jedi, Threepio gives a long hype-man speech for the Pit of Sarlacc. In Empire Strikes Back, there’s a goddamn asteroid ringworm that lives in space—and the only explanation we get is, “This is no cave.”

The Empire Strikes Back is faster and more intense—but only because it’s smaller and more personal. Thirty-five years later, the blockbuster era Empire helped create is entering the late decadent phase. Bigger casts, bigger effects, bigger battles, bigger budgets. We have more Star Wars movies coming. Let’s hope they dare to be small.

Honest Trailers: Jupiter Ascending

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Nightmare in Pink!

Last weekend saw the first So Cal Lego convention in over ten years, and seeing as I happened to know where I could borrow a ton of pink Lego, I made this thing.

And it won first place!

My other bit of work was this massive collaborative diorama called Space Nam.  The bulk of the work was done by friends of mine.  If you've got three minutes, check out this video tour:

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

See Bill Hader and Fred Armisen channel the women of Grey Gardens in IFC's Documentary Now!

“From ew, Authentic. Loving. Celebratory. Time-specific.” That’s how Fred Armisen describes Documentary Now!, an IFC comedy (debuting Aug. 20) that spoofs and pays tribute to the genre with a six-episode showcase of mockumentaries about fictitious historical subjects (often rooted in real life), each unspooled in a different filmmaking style.

Armisen and Bill Hader star in each half-hour doc while serving as creator/executive producer/writers alongside fellow SNL vet Seth Meyers. The SNL connection extends to another executive producer (Lorne Michaels) as well as the show’s directors (Rhys Thomas and Alex Buono). And it was on that sketch show that the seeds for Documentary Now! were planted—specifically with “Ian Rubbish and the Bizzaros: History of Punk,” a faux doc about a British punk band starring Armisen and Hader.

“IFC had always liked the Ian Rubbish thing and originally approached us about doing more of his story,” says “Rubbish” writer Meyers. “But we were really happy with how that had been a piece, and we didn’t really know anything more we wanted to say about Ian, whereas exploring other things like that was more interesting to us.”

And this show shares a similar comedy aesthetic with “Ian Rubbish.” “There really is no big joke in Ian Rubbish, “ says Armisen, “and that’s where we came from—where this isn’t a total punchline to any of it.” Hader, meanwhile, enjoyed trying on a series of disparate characters with his SNL co-star outside of their usual sketch playground. “It was fun for me and Fred because we never viewed it as more of a sketch show,” he says. “They were totally separate short films, but we get to play characters that have an A, B, and C story rather than a quick sketch character. There are sketches that are pretty over the top in it, but it was nice to get to play something over a full episode.”

Newest 'Pixels" trailer looks like fun!

'The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence)' review!

From toplessrobot, The ideal way to watch The Human Centipede III (Final Sequence) would be in the kind of run-down theater where moths have chowed down on the curtains like so much stale popcorn, your shoes stick to the floor, you have to consciously avoid winding up in the one chair in your row that will impale your ass with exposed springs, and you don't even want to know what that guy in the back is doing under his raincoat. Take a date only if you wish to end your relationship forever and get hit with a restraining order; this is utterly unrepentant sleaze that intends to offend everyone and make South Park look kind-hearted and tame, and having jettisoned all pretense at taking itself seriously, it's also kind of a blast. But you'll feel bad for liking it, and you probably should.

I'll bet it's on Quentin Tarantino's year-end top ten list, too.

Looking like a chemotherapy Buster Keaton head jammed onto a body that's been stretched on a torture rack, and scream-acting like an unholy fusion of Nicolas Cage and Udo Kier on Quaaludes, Dieter Laser is back from the first film - this time in the role of prison warden Bill Boss, who is pretty much the worst human being in the world. He sexually harasses his secretary into rape, eats dried human clitorises from Africa to give himself super-strength, waterboards inmates with boiling water, and at one point graphically handles a human castration himself - after which he orders the remnants be cooked for his lunch. And if you haven't lost yours by this point, you might - MIGHT - survive the movie.

Laurence R. Harvey, the creepy villain/protagonist of the second film, is also back, this time as Mr. Boss' assistant Dwight, who keeps trying to suggest to him that the real way to keep unruly prisoners in order is to follow the example of the Human Centipede movies, this trilogy being the only film series I can think of in which each installment exists as a movie within the subsequent one. In the tradition of good grindhouse, the film withholds the ultimate Human Centipede as one of the climactic reveals - yes, there is another - so the rest of the movie is Boss trying literally everything else he can think of to torment his prisoners and avoid losing his job at the hands of the governor (Eric Roberts).

One of the difficulties of articulating one's affection for Human Centipede movies is that director Tom Six does his damnedest to make sure there is nothing morally defensible about them. The first two were artfully shot, to be sure - this one goes for a deliberately cheap look that's appropriate - but is there really anything the, ahem, franchise is trying to say beyond being offensive? In broad strokes, this installment feels like an attempt at satirizing an American right wing that wants to save money and punish prisoners severely (Arizona's hard-right Sheriff Joe Arpaio seems to have been a jumping-off point), but calling it satire is a bit like referring to the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima as "a mild police action." It's hard to take much offense once you realize Six is basically doing the equivalent of a naughty three year-old throwing every bad word at you he has just learned, yet people certainly will. It's easier to laugh, especially when Laser scrunches his face as he yells every line at the top of his lungs to the point that one scarcely imagines he'll ever speak again, nor be able to non-painfully move the thin layer of skin stretched upon his skull that we must call his face.

Movies shouldn't all be safe, and there's a place for films that push boundaries even if that's the only thing they do (seriously, when was the last time you saw an English-language horror movie that actually went further than you expected?). Many John Waters movies arguably began as such, though it was by inserting gay and transgender themes that the director was truly subversive, even if more people remember Divine eating shit and that dude with the singing butthole. Six has no such social progress in mind; he just wants to create a genuine horror that will freak audiences out. (Playing himself, he even suggests by movie's end that things have gone beyond limits even he finds acceptable.) In the case of his Final Sequence, the real terror may be how easily the director gets you to laugh at really, really, really abhorrent behavior.

Just remember: as each successive installment in the series takes pains to emphasize: this is, after all, only a movie.

Bloodsport Mentos

I'd like to thank the internet for allowing those two words in the title to finally have been brought together. This is making my morning. Enjoy!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Check out this creepy cartoon short made by my 15-year old nephew!

Untitled Project from Harrison on Vimeo.

Twin Peaks Saved! David Lynch To Direct Even More Than Expected, Thanks Cast And Fans

From welcometo twinpeaks, After six weeks of rallying to #SaveTwinPeaks and also exactly one year after the Twin Peaks Blu-ray announcement, Twin Peaks fans can finally sleep well and have both wonderful and strange dreams again about that upcoming new season. Wow Bob wow! On a date that reads the same forward and backward, David Lynch and Mark Frost announced that the show is definitely coming to Showtime, despite the “rumors.”

Dear Twitter Friends, the rumors are not what they seem ….. It is !!! Happening again. #TwinPeaks returns on @SHO_Network

— David Lynch (@DAVID_LYNCH) May 16, 2015

The premium cabler followed the announcement with an official statement from their CEO, David Nevins:

This damn fine cup of coffee from Mark and David tastes more delicious than ever. Totally worth the extra brewing time and the cup is even bigger than we expected. David will direct the whole thing which will total more than the originally announced nine hours. Pre production starts now!!

Banzai! Whether this translates into just a few more episodes or even an entire extra season is unknown at this point.

In an e-mail to Sherilyn Fenn, who will return as Audrey Horne, the director thanked the cast for playing a major role in making the negotiations successful, and everyone who rallied to save Twin Peaks.

— sherilynfenn (@sherilynfenn1) May 16, 2015

First reactions from the original cast members…
Kyle MacLachlan (Dale Cooper)

Welcome back again!! #TwinPeaks Special Agent Dale Cooper! on #Showtime #damnfinecoffee

— Kyle MacLachlan (@Kyle_MacLachlan) May 16, 2015

But it wasn't a dream. It was a place. And you and you and you…and you were there… Good to be home. #TwinPeaks

— Kyle MacLachlan (@Kyle_MacLachlan) May 16, 2015

Mädchen Amick (Shelly Johnson)

We want to thank ALL of you #peaksies for helping us #SaveTwinPeaks – WE DID IT!!!!!!

— Mädchen Amick (@auntwendythecat) May 16, 2015

Sherilyn Fenn (Audrey Horne)


— sherilynfenn (@sherilynfenn1) May 16, 2015


— sherilynfenn (@sherilynfenn1) May 16, 2015

Charlotte Stewart (Betty Briggs)

Twin Peaks is alive! ALIVE!!!!

— Charlotte Stewart (@RealCharStewart) May 16, 2015

Miguel Ferrer (Albert Rosenfield)

Looks like it's back on, rumored to have an order of more than nine as first reported. A good day for all Twin Peaks fans, myself included.

— Miguel Ferrer (@Miguel_J_Ferrer) May 16, 2015

Box Office

From ew, Debuting to an estimated $70.3 million, Pitch Perfect 2 surpassed High School Musical 3 to become the biggest movie musical opening of all time. That’s well above the first Pitch Perfect’s entire theatrical total of $65 million. This isn’t unheard of (The Spy Who Shagged Me also opened to more than the first Austin Powers made during its entire theatrical run), but it’s still pretty rare — and it’s a testament to just how popular Pitch Perfect has become since the first one left theaters.

Pitch Perfect 2 wasn’t the only big opening this weekend. Mad Max: Fury Road debuted in second place. This R-rated, post-apocalyptic tale has earned rave reviews, and while it wasn’t expected to break any box office records, it still brought in a solid $44.4 million.

Meanwhile, Avengers: Age of Ultron made $38.8 million in its third week, bringing its global total to an estimated $1.143 billion and making it the eighth highest-grossing film of all time. That means Disney has released four of the top eight highest-grossing films, three of which are from Marvel Studios.

Hot Pursuit took fourth place, making about $5.8 million in its second week, and Furious 7 earned about $3.6 million in its seventh week, putting its worldwide total at about $1.489 billion.

Here are this weekend’s top five at the box office:

1. Pitch Perfect 2 — $70.3 million
2. Mad Max: Fury Road — $44.4 million
3. Avengers: Age of Ultron — $38.8 million
4. Hot Pursuit — $5.8 million
5. Furious 7 — $3.6 million

Friday, May 15, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road



I've been thinking a lot about 1981's Road Warrior because it's one of those movies that spawned an entire subgenre.  Sure, there had been post-apocalyptic movies before, but nobody had yet bothered to make the apocalypse cool.  It's hard to remember a time without the fantasy of the mohawked motorcycling bad guy in a costume both savage and salvage, but in 1980 there was no such person leaving endless dust trails across our collective subconscious.

So what, then, to expect from a new Mad Max?  I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn't what we got.  It was like George Miller took the dream his movie had become after stewing for 34 years and fed it back to us in a form we didn't know we could have.   We've been to worlds built on the bones of the old worlds before, but the production design is infused with such balls-out lyricism you might as well be watching a movie called Every Heavy Metal Album Cover Ever.

Muscle cars with tank treads, porcupine cars, cars with giant buzzsaws -- this movie is like Ralph Steadman's childhood doodles come to life.  The orchestral soundtrack is operatic in scope, giving the  diesel-fueled adventure a hum of high fantasy, as if these pale, bald, cultish warriors are actually a band of orcs.

I think my cold math reckoned on a director sadly revisiting his most popular moments after he's directed movies about CG penguins, and failing.  Instead George Miller reinvents his own spectacular invention.  This is what Prometheus was supposed to feel like.  Go see it.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Unreleased, Terrible Cory Feldman-Adam West Film Turns Up Online

From iwatchstuff, Whatever expectations you may have for a fourteen-year-old, un-distributable film that stars Corey Feldman and Adam West, Seance almost certainly falls below them. Alternately titledKiller in the Dark--in case you somehow knew it by that name--the horror film only just yesterday became at all publicly known thanks to a post on reddit. There, a user writes that a friend's father, who has now wisely shifted into construction work, in 2001 spent a million dollars to produce his own script about a spirit that gets summoned in a séance. Like anyone brought back to the earthly plane, the spirit possesses Corey Feldman and makes him lick an unwilling, hospitalized woman's face. TV's Batman is also somehow involved.

Assuming that's enough to intrigue you--and how couldn't it be?--there's good news. The guy who made this was apparently convinced to release the film in full on YouTube, and if you have look below, you can see it in all its Feldmajesty. There's also a trailer, to help you decide if you actually want to commit to that.

I hate everything about the new 'Supergirl' TV show

Harry Shearer to exit The Simpsons?

From ew, This news is not excellent.

Harry Shearer, one of The Simpsons’ main voice actors, indicated on Wednesday night that he is exiting the long-running animated series. Shearer posted a tweet appearing to quote a lawyer for executive producer James L. Brooks that read “show will go on, Harry will not be part of it, wish him the best.”

In a second tweet, Shearer explained: “This because I wanted what we’ve always had: the freedom to do other work. Of course, I wish him the very best.”

While the other principal cast members—Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, and Hank Azaria—had inked deals to continue with the show for two more seasons when it was renewed last week, Shearer had not yet signed a contract. To make sure that there was no delay in the airing schedule, The Simpsons began production on season 27 without Shearer, though producers remained hopeful that he would ultimately come to terms.

The loss of Shearer—if real—is signficant, as he voices such beloved characters as Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Smithers, Seymour Skinner and Otto, among many others. The 71-year-old actor/satirist/author/comedian/Spinal Tap vet, who also hosts the syndicated radio program Le Show, has been with The Simpsonssince its launch in 1989.

Representatives for Shearer, Fox, and the producers could not be reached for comment. Last week, he tweeted a link to the official Fox press release about the show’s renewal, pointing out the fact that it did not mention the cast members: “Doesn’t this show have a cast?”

The show has weathered tense negotiations and contract disputes in the past, but always came out of it with the full cast intact. In 2011, as part of a way to reduce costs for the aging show, 20th Century Fox, the studio that produces The Simpsons, told the actors that they would have to take a 45-percent pay cut from their $400,000-plus-per episode deals to keep the show alive. (Shearer released a public statement during the stalemate, proposing a 70-percent pay cut in exchange for some profit participation.) The cast eventually agreed to a salary reduction, though not as steep as 45 percent. In 1998, the studio threatened to replace the actors before both sides came to terms.

Fox will air the season 26 finale of The Simpsons on May 17.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

"O.G. Hamburglar," a Spec Campaign/Fan Film, Shows McDonald's How to Reboot Right

From toplessrobot, The new McDonald's Hamburglar is fakin' it and the #OGHamburglar isn't takin' it. It's time to grab the power and the burgers back.

This isn't an actual McDonald's ad - just a proposal by a production company called Whiskey Tongue that demonstrates what an actual modern reboot of Hamburglar ought to be, versus what actually happened. Should the big McD show interest, I suspect the idea is to have the new Hamburglar fight "O.G. Hamburglar" [as Adweek helpfully reminds us, "(OG being slang, of course, for original gangster)"]

Technically, though, that's NOT really "O.G. Hamburglar." He used to be older and more borderline anti-Semitic caricature. We understandably prefer to forget that one, but maybe the kid-version can be Li'l G Hamburglar.

'The Tribe' is getting terrific reviews

The 5 stages of watching a Marvel movie

Why Disney Didn't Want George Lucas' Star Wars 7 Ideas

From cinemablend, It was all the way back in January that we exclusively reported that George Lucas' ideas for Star Wars: Episode 7 were ignored by J.J. Abrams and company, as the production decided to go in a different direction with what would wind up being Star Wars: The Force Awakens. But why was it exactly that the Star Wars creators notes were ignored? Apparently it was because the filmmaker wanted the story to focus on younger characters, while the studio was afraid of heading back into Phantom Menace territory.

This interesting news was dug up by Vanity Fair in their big Star Wars cover story, and comes directly from director J.J. Abrams himself. The magazine wrote that George Lucas had provided his ideas for the next trilogy of Star Wars movies, with the focus being on what's described as "very young characters" (LucasFilm says they were teenagers). Unfortunately, it seems this idea gave Disney executives flashbacks to the negative response that Jake Lloyd's performance received forEpisode I, so moves were made to change things up. Asked for comment about Lucas' original Episode VII ideas, LucasFilm President and Force Awakens producer Kathleen Kennedy said,

We’ve made some departures - exactly the way you would in any development process.

Instead of focusing on young teens, Star Wars: The Force Awakens instead seems to be centered on a pair of 23-year-olds (Daisy Ridley's Rey and John Boyega's Finn) as well as a 35 year-old (Oscar Isacc's Poe Dameron). Those ages are much more in line with those of the principal cast in the first Star Wars, which included a 26 year old Mark Hamill, a 35-year-old Harrison Ford, and a 21-year-old Carrie Fisher.

While George Lucas' ideas for Star Wars: Episode VII were put aside for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a big part of me thinks that this can't be the last we've heard of those concepts. They may never actually be adapted into in-canon feature films, but perhaps they could get adapted in another way, or possibly published. The point is, there is likely a lot of money to be made from revealing Lucas' original plans for the third trilogy of Star Wars, and I don't think that Disney and LucasFilm are just going to sit on them.

Of course, once those ideas do get out, it will be even more interesting to see how they compare to the direction in which J.J. Abrams and his crew ultimately decided to go. Kathleen Kennedy's quote on the matter sounds pretty political, but maybe there actually will be certain beats from Lucas' sketches that made their way into Abrams' movie. We'll just have to wait and see how it all shakes out.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be out in theaters on December 17th.

Remarkable example of fish camouflage

Sky Sharks trailer!

The Muppets are back on TV and here's the trailer

Monday, May 11, 2015

Happy (belated) Mother's Day, Horrorthonners!

I started to post this yesterday but I became distracted* and promptly forgot about it.  I happen to know that the women with children who post on this blog are all terrific moms and wonderful people!  I hope you were honored in some fashion (and by that I mean you got time to yourself away from your kids).

*drank too much fireball whiskey and fell asleep.

Box Office

From ew, Age of Ultron claimed the second biggest debut of all time when it opened with a whopping $191 million last weekend, just behind 2012’s Marvel’s The Avengers. This weekend, Ultron grossed an estimated $77.2 million, surpassing Avatar to become the second-highest second weekend domestic gross of all time — exceeded only by The Avengers’ $103.1 million. Plus, Ultron is now tied with The Dark Knight as the second fastest film to reach $300 million in North America. (Ultron did it in 10 days, but The Avengers did it in nine.)

Internationally, Ultron has snagged $875.3 million — and it still hasn’t opened in China or Japan. It’ll be interesting to watch Ultron challenge the records set by Furious 7 over the next few weeks, especially because Furious 7 is still holding strong in its sixth week. It’s the fourth highest grossing film of all time, and this weekend put Furious 7’s worldwide total at $1.466 billion.

Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara’s new comedy Hot Pursuit was the only big new release this weekend, and it brought in an estimated $13.3 million. The Age of Adaline only dropped about 10 percent, putting the other “Age Of” movie in third place with $5.6 million. And Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2rounded out the top five with an estimated $5.2 million in its fourth weekend.

Age of Ultron hasn’t had too much competition so far, but it’ll face its first real test next weekend when Mad Max: Fury Road and Pitch Perfect 2debut in North American theaters. PP2 opened in a few international territories this weekend, and it premiered as the No. 1 film in Australia and New Zealand, becoming the first film to dethrone Ultron anywhere.

Here are this weekend’s top five at the box office:

1. Avengers: Age of Ultron — $77.2 million
2. Hot Pursuit — $13.3 million
3. The Age of Adaline — $5.6 million
4. Furious 7 — $5.3 million
5. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 — $5.2 million

Friday, May 08, 2015

'Vacation' (2015) red band trailer

Joss Whedon Confirmed for Star Wars!?

From moviepilot, Joss Whedon has officially left the Marvel Cinematic Universe and has officially left Twitter. His reason? He claims he needs to work on his writing.

But what exactly could he, by far the Jossest of Whedons, be working on? Whedon is known for his strong female characters, not to mention how deeply entrenched he is in geek culture as a whole.

The Get Your Geek On podcast this past Monday revealed that Star Wars will be the next stop for Mr. Whedon. While Rian Johnson has been signed for Episode VIII, Whedon is a lock at least for installment IX.

Daisey Ridley's Rey is sure to be on her way to an exciting and empowering end to the sequel trilogy, that much is certain.