ENJOY THE SHOW
Written by Chris Claremont and illustrated by John Byrne, the "Dark Phoenix" saga is one of the most enduring storylines in the history of Marvel Comics. First published in Uncanny X-Men #129-138 (1980), the iconic story follows Jean Grey's transformation from gifted mutant into a god-like cosmic entity known as the "Phoenix". In 2006, screenwriters Simon Kinberg and Zak Penn adapted elements of the story for Brett Ratner's sequel X-Men: The Last Stand with mixed results. Now thirteen years later, Kinberg is taking another stab at adapting the classic tale with Dark Phoenix, the twelfth installment in Fox's seemingly-never-ending X-Men film series. A direct sequel to Bryan Singer's X-Men: Apocalypse (2016), the film is the final installment of the main X-Men saga after The Walt Disney Company's acquisition of 20th Century Fox.
In the aftermath of World War II, Japan's Toho Co., Ltd. assembled a team of filmmakers – co-writer and director Ishirō Honda, producer Tomoyuki Tanaka, co-writer Takeo Murata, and special effects director Eiji Tsuburaya – to create a new kind of movie monster. Originally conceived as a walking metaphor for nuclear annihilation, Godzilla roared onto screens in Honda's genre-defining 1954 masterpiece, Gojira. The film captured the imagination – and embodied the fears – of an entire nation. Now 65 years later, the Godzilla series is fully recognized by Guinness World Records as the longest running film franchise in history with a whopping 35 films starring the titular beast. The latest entry, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, is the next chapter in Warner Bros Pictures' and Legendary Pictures' cinematic "MonsterVerse", following in the massive footsteps of Gareth Edwards' Godzilla (2014) and Jordan Vogt-Roberts' Kong: Skull Island (2017).
Based on the Arabic folktale Aladdin and the Magic Lamp from the book One Thousand and One Nights (aka "Arabian Nights"), plus the 1940 film The Thief of Bagdad, Disney's animated Aladdin from 1992 was the most successful movie of that year, grossing $217 million in the US and over $504 million worldwide. The hand-drawn animated film's massive success led to two direct-to-video sequels, The Return of Jafar (1994) and Aladdin and the King of Thieves (1996), an animated series for TV, and a Broadway musical adaptation. Now, after the success of other live-action Disney remakes like Cinderella, The Jungle Book, and Beauty and the Beast, British director Guy Ritchie is reimagining the beloved animated classic as a big-budget, live-action, Bollywood spectacle with flying carpets, magic genies, and a lot of wishful thinking.
Olivia Wilde. The American actress, who derived her stage name from Irish author Oscar Wilde, is best known for her roles on television series including "The O.C." and "House", and in films like Tron: Legacy, Cowboys & Aliens, Year One, In Time, Drinking Buddies, and Rush. Now, the talented star of stage and screen is working behind the camera. After directing the shorts Free Hugs (2011), Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros: No Love Like Yours (2016), and Red Hot Chili Peppers: Dark Necessities (2016), Wilde is making her feature-length directorial debut with Booksmart, an uproarious and unfiltered coming-of-age comedy that's equal parts Superbad, Lady Bird, Can't Hardly Wait, and Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, filled to the brim with a bevy of top-notch performances from an ensemble of young, up-and-coming stars.
With the original John Wick, screenwriter Derek Kolstad and co-directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch created an atmospheric neo-noir thriller with exhilarating action sequences, an iconic action hero in John Wick, and an equally iconic lead performance by Keanu Reeves. The film, about an ex-assassin (Reeves) who comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that killed his dog, earned $88 million worldwide, and thus began the John Wick Cinematic Universe™. Stahelski and Kolstad doubled-down on the non-stop, exquisitely choreographed bloodshed in the sequel John Wick: Chapter 2 while exploring the mythological, hyper-real criminal underworld John Wick inhabits. Now, with John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, Stahelski and Kolstad walk a tightrope between world-building and trigger-pulling to deliver a propulsive action flick with some of the most impressive stunts and set pieces in American action cinema.
Directed by brothers Anthony Russo and Joe Russo, Avengers: Endgame is the fourth installment in the Avengers franchise and the 22nd Marvel Studios feature to date. The 181-minute movie represents the culmination of the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far, which first began with the release of Jon Favreau’s Iron Man in 2008. Since then, Marvel Studios movies have grossed a combined total of over $18 billion worldwide over the last 11 years. The previous Avengers entry, 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War, has already earned over $2 billion at the box office, making it the fourth highest-grossing movie of all time. To say this follow-up is eagerly anticipated would be an understatement, but does Marvel's Endgame – a finale 11 years in the making – live up to the unprecedented hype and unrealistic expectations? Yes it does. And then some.
Originally based on the book written by Helen Aberson and Harold Pearl, 1941's Dumbo was the fourth animated feature film made by Walt Disney Productions, following up Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Pinocchio (1940), and Fantasia (1940). Originally conceived as a short film, Dumbo was reworked as a low-budget feature to help recoup the financial losses of Pinocchio and Fantasia. Made for half the cost of Snow White, the 64-minute film turned a profit, earning $1.6 million during its initial release. In addition to box office success, the film garnered some critical acclaim as well, winning Best Original Score at the 14th Academy Awards. Now, 77 years later, Walt Disney Productions is re-introducing the iconic character to a new generation with a live-action remake directed by Tim Burton (Alice in Wonderland, Frankenweenie).
Myths of duplicates and alter-egos have persisted for thousands of years… In Zoroastrianism, one of the world's oldest religions, the deity Spenta Mainyu is The Holy Spirit while his "evil twin" – Angra Mainyu – is the Destructive Spirit. In Ancient Egyptian mythology, a ka is a "spirit double" with the same memories and feelings as its counterpart. Native American folklore depicts an upper world where the good people reside and an underworld where their evil doubles dwell. Today, we refer to look-alikes as doppelgängers, a German word meaning "double-walker." When it comes to cinema, numerous iconic films have tackled the phenomenon, from Vertigo (1958), Persona (1966), and Dead Ringers (1988), to more recent movies like The Prestige (2006), Black Swan (2010), and Enemy (2013). Now, Academy Award winner Jordan Peele follows up his provocative 2017 horror-thriller Get Out with a definitive take on doppelgängers in Us.
Created by Stan Lee and Gene Colan, Captain Marvel debuted in 1967's Marvel Super-Heroes #12. During the Silver Age, the name belonged to Mar-Vell, a Kree military officer who becomes Earth's protector. In the '80s, Monica Rambeau assumed the title and later became the leader of the Avengers. In the '90s, Rambeau ceded the name to Mar-Vell's son, Genis-Vell, who passed it down to his sister, Phyla-Vell, in the 2000s. In 2012, Carol Danvers, a super-heroine long known as Ms. Marvel, assumed the mantle in a series written by Kelly Sue DeConnick. That series serves as the basis for the twenty-first movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), titled Captain Marvel, directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, and starring Academy Award-winner Brie Larson as Marvel Studios' first stand-alone, female-franchise title character.
In 2007, following her breakout performance in Michael Bay's Transformers, Megan Fox was set to star in her next project, a Rogue Pictures horror-thriller produced by Bay. Then called Half to Death, the project was pitched as Groundhog Day meets Scream, with the script following a college freshman who must relive the day of her murder over and over again, stuck in a time loop that will end only when she discovers the killer's identity. For reasons unknown, the studio decided not to move on with the project. A decade later, Blumhouse Productions revived the long-gestating project with director Christopher Landon and actress Jessica Rothe. Now titled Happy Death Day, the horror comedy was a surprise hit, grossing $125 million worldwide on a small $4.8 million budget. A sequel was inevitable after that kind of success. Enter Happy Death Day 2U, an inventive and entertaining follow-up that expands upon the first in nearly every way.
Indian-American filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan first gained major acclaimed for his 1999 supernatural horror drama The Sixth Sense. That film was a commercial and critical success and was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. His next big feature released in 2000, the ambitious Unbreakable, kickstarted the modern comic book movie boom alongside Bryan Singer's X-Men, also released the same year. Shyamalan's Unbreakable, which co-stars Willis and Samuel L. Jackson, is a serious-minded deconstruction of the superhero subgenre before movies like Sam Raimi's Spider-Man, Jon Favreau's Iron Man, and Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight trilogy made it the industry mainstay it is today. He finally follows up this with Glass, continuing the story 19 years later.
Over the last 12 months, I've seen more than 110 new releases — that's over nine days of time in total spent watching movies — and I'm happy to report that it's been an exceptional year at the cinema. In fact, I could probably make a Top 50 Best Films of 2018 list and still leave off a few notable titles. Just think about it – we got to see vital new work from visionary filmmakers like Steven Spielberg, Alex Garland, Alfonso Cuaron, Spike Lee, Lynne Ramsay, and newcomer Boots Riley, whose Sorry to Bother You is one of the most unique and refreshingly original movies of the year. We witnessed fantastic performances by Lady Gaga, Ethan Hawke, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone, Mahershala Ali, Richard E. Grant, as well as Christian Bale. We saw breathtakingly beautiful films like Roma, The Favourite, If Beale Street Could Talk, and First Man – works of flawless craftsmanship by cinematographers and production designers alike.