THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES Review

by     Posted 6 days ago

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At one point in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Dwalin (Graham McTavish) tells a greedy, paranoid Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), “You are lesser now than you have ever been.”  The same could be said to director and co-writer Peter Jackson and the conclusion of his prequel trilogy.  In an interview with EW earlier this year, Jackson stressed that it was important to keep cutting back to main characters during the action scenes, “otherwise the audience gets battle fatigue.”  He should have taken his own advice as this trilogy is clearly spent and left with almost nothing but hollow spectacle, hypocrisy, poor characterization, and at times becoming an outright embarrassment.  If The Lord of the Rings trilogy is one of cinema’s best, then Battle of the Five Armies cements The Hobbit trilogy as one of its most disappointing.

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL and BIRDMAN Lead Critics Choice Awards Nominations

by     Posted One week ago

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Individual critics groups are starting to weigh in with their picks for the very best of the year, and now the largest group of critics has unveiled its list of nominees for the 20th Critics Choice Movie Awards.  Made up of members of the Broadcast Film Critics Association, the Critics Choice Awards recognize films and performances from all genres, with separate categories for Comedy, Action, etc.  Leading the pack in terms of quantity is Birdman with 13 nominations, followed by The Grand Budapest Hotel which raked in 11 nominations including Ralph Fiennes for Best Actor.  The brilliant Selma also fared well with 6 nods overall, and Unbroken rebounded a bit after being shut out of SAG and the Golden Globes with 6 nominations.  Additionally, you’ll find plenty of love for Guardians of the Galaxy and Edge of Tomorrow in the Action categories.

Check out the full list of nominees after the jump.  The 2015 Critics Choice Movie Awards will be telecast live on A&E on January 15th.

Watch Stephen Colbert Interview Smaug on THE COLBERT REPORT

by     Posted 10 days ago

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The Colbert Report is coming to an end next week as host Stephen Colbert prepares to segue to his new gig as the host of Late Night, taking over for David Letterman next May.  As the Comedy Central show is winding down, Colbert has been nabbing some big guests to close things out (the President of the United States was on last week), but last night Colbert ramped things up a notch by nabbing the biggest guest of all: Smaug the dragon from The Hobbit.  A self-professed J.R.R. Tolkein fanatic, Colbert has actually been part of the marketing campaign for the final film in Peter Jackson’s trilogy, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, and it appears that Jackson and Co. went above and beyond by creating this Smaug footage specifically for The Colbert Report (with a Benedict Cumberbatch voice performance to boot).  It’s a funny interview, unsurprisingly, and we learn some interesting facts about the gold hoarding dragon who is apparently a Rand Paul supporter and not a fan of the aforementioned Cumberbatch.

Watch the Colbert Report Smaug interview after the jump.  The final episode of The Colbert Report airs next Thursday, December 18th, while The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies opens in theaters on December 17th.

A Done Deal: Marvel Confirms Benedict Cumberbatch Is DOCTOR STRANGE; Logline Revealed

by     Posted 18 days ago

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It’s Official.  Confirmed.  Signed, sealed, and delivered.  After months of rumors, negotiations, and close calls, Marvel has officially confirmed that Benedict Cumberbatch will indeed be the star of Doctor Strange, putting an end to the longest casting process since…well probably True Detective Season 2.  Regardless, the studio has found its man, and producer Kevin Feige has high praise for the star:

“Stephen Strange’s story requires an actor capable of great depth and sincerity. In 2016, Benedict will show audiences what makes Doctor Strange such a unique and compelling character.”

Scott Derrickson (Sinister) is directing the film from a screenplay by Jon Spaihts. Hit the jump for more on this long road to finding Doctor Strange.

Watch Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Keaton, Channing Tatum and More in 50-Minute Actors Roundtable Discussion

by     Posted 18 days ago

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This year’s THR Roundtable series has been excellent, bringing us some fascinating conversation involving some of the year’s best cinematographers, writers, and actresses.  These events are clearly meant to boost the awards profiles of those who participate, but in staging the events as roundtable discussions, it lets the audience see some candid conversation driven by the participants themselves.  Today, THR has unveiled its Actor roundtable, which includes Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game), Michael Keaton (Birdman), Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner), Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything), Channing Tatum (Foxcatcher), and Ethan Hawke (Boyhood).  I’m especially pleased to see Tatum taking part, as I think his lead turn in Foxcatcher is one of the year’s most impressive and under-discussed performances.

Watch the full 50-minute video after the jump, which touches on film vs. theater, playing real people, research for roles, challenges, and much more.

Benedict Cumberbatch Talks THE IMITATION GAME, Alan Turing, Future Projects, and Much More

by     Posted 19 days ago

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Over the past few years, Benedict Cumberbatch has shown incredible range while bouncing from project to project, always delivering great performances.  If you’re one of the few that isn’t familiar with his name, I recommend watching Sherlock (where he plays Sherlock Holmes), The Fifth Estate (where he plays Julian Assange), and also going to your local movie theater to see his incredible work in director Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game.  The film is about Alan Turing (played by Cumberbatch), a brilliant cryptanalyst whose expertise cracked Germany’s “Enigma code” and helped turn the tide of World War II for the Allies, but his homosexuality still made him a target of persecution.  The film is really more about Turing than the war, but Tyldum weaves the Enigma plot throughout the film in a way that makes it feel like a spy thriller.

When I recently spoke to Cumberbatch to help promote the film, he talked about why he wanted to be part of this important movie, balancing fact versus fiction, what Turing helped invent, what it’s like being connected to so many highly anticipated new movies, and a lot more.  Hit the jump to watch and for more on the film, watch six clips, the trailer, or click here for all our previous coverage.

THE IMITATION GAME Review

by     Posted 24 days ago

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[This is a re-post of my review from the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.  The Imitation Game opens today in limited release.]

In September 1933, General George S. Patton told the Calvary Journal, “Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men.” Mathematician Alan Turning proved Patton’s statement was only half true when it came to World War II. It was won by men and a machine. Turing and his team used a computer to decipher the Germans’ “Enigma” code, which turned the tide of the war and was one of the key contributions to the Allies’ victory. Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game is a compelling look at a man treated inhumanely and the creation of his machine that helped saved humanity from evil. The film isn’t hard to crack, but led by Benedict Cumberbatch’s outstanding performance and Tyldum’s strong direction, it’s a compelling tale of secrets, lies, and sacrifice.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom McGrath Talk THE PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR, Favorite Animated Movies, and More

by     Posted 27 days ago

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Opening tomorrow is Eric Darnell and Simon J. Smith‘s The Penguins of Madagascar.  DreamWorks Animation’s upcoming spinoff features the espionage-minded birds as they go off on a mission to bring down the nefarious octopus Dave (John Malkovich) even though they end up getting in the way of the professional spy organization the North Wind, which is led by the wolf “Classified” (Benedict Cumberbatch).  The movie also features the voices of Ken Jeong, Annet Mahendru, and Peter Stormare.  For more on the film, check out the trailer.

To help promote the film, I recently got to talk with Benedict Cumberbatch (he plays Agent Classified) and Tom McGrath (he voices Skipper).  They talked about the relationship between Agent Classified and the Penguins, script changes during production, how recording their dialogue separately can be an advantage, and their favorite animated movies.  Hit the jump for what they had to say.

PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR Review

by     Posted 27 days ago

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Can scene-stealers carry a movie?  Or do some characters only work best in small doses?  Even though they don’t have big-name voice actors, the espionage-minded penguins from the Madagascar franchise have consistently been more appealing than the central characters.  They almost feel like they’re more for the adults in the audience and the kids can have the slapstick and fart jokes.  Now Skipper (Tom McGrath), Kowalski (Chris Miller), Rico (Conrad Vernon), and Private (Christopher Knights) have taken center stage, and their spin-off, Penguins of Madagascar, easily surpasses the first two Madagascar films (I didn’t even bother with the third) through its rapid-fire wit, cuteness, and offbeat jokes that will amuse kids and adults alike.

Sherlock and Watson Get Dapper for 2015′s SHERLOCK Christmas Special

by     Posted 27 days ago

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When Sherlock returns for its Christmas Special in 2015, Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Watson (Martin Freeman) will be squaring off against Moriarty (Andrew Scott), but that doesn’t mean they can’t look snappy while doing it.  The BBC has released an image of the crime-solving duo donning some 19th century threads, and while this looks like a promo image, the BBC’s Twitter account confirms that this is how they’ll appear in the special.  Sherlock doesn’t do dream sequences, so I’m intrigued as to why Sherlock and Watson are wearing some period garb.  Unfortunately, the answer is a long ways off.

Hit the jump to check out the Sherlock Christmas Special image along with a shot of the read-through script.

PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR Mockumentary Featuring Benedict Cumberbatch, John Malkovich and Ken Jeong

by     Posted 32 days ago

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Want to see Benedict Cumberbatch perfect his wolf bark, Ken Jeong perform as a Navy Seal instead of a baby seal and John Malkovich get into octopus form?  It’s all in the brand new Penguins of Madagascar mockumentary that DreamWorks Animation debuted and just like the large majority of the promotional material released for the film thus far, it’s pretty amusing and well worth a watch.

In the upcoming film, Skipper (Tom McGrath), Kowalski (Chris Miller), Rico (John DiMaggio) and Private (Patrick Stuart) have to stop an old acquaintance from taking over the world, Malkovich’s Dr. Octavius Brine, aka Dave the Octopus.  But the penguins can’t do it alone so they team up with a spy organization lead by Cumberbatch’s Agent Classified called the North Wind.  Hit the jump to check out that Penguins of Madagascar mockumentary and keep an eye out for the full feature, which is due in theaters in 3D on November 26th.

Benedict Cumberbatch Has Secrets in New THE IMITATION GAME Trailer

by     Posted 38 days ago

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The Weinstein Company has released a new The Imitation Game trailer for director Morten Tyldum’s (Headhunters) critically acclaimed Alan Turing biopic.  The World War II drama features an absolutely terrific lead performance by Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing, a genius mathematician who worked to crack the Enigma Code—the code the Nazis were using to transmit messages back and forth—and bring an end to the war.  The film is really more about Turing than it is the war (he was later convicted of the “crime” of homosexuality and sentenced to chemical castrastion), but Tyldum weaves the Enigma plot throughout the film as a sort of spy thriller.  It’s a really good movie that also features a swell Keira Knightley performance and one of the best scores of the year thanks to composer Alexandre Desplat.

Check out the new The Imitation Game trailer after the jump, click here to read Matt’s review, and click here to watch nine clips Matthew GoodeCharles DanceMark StrongRory KinnearAllen Leech, and Matthew Beard.  The Imitation Game opens in the U.K. today and in the U.S. on November 28th.

Watch 6 New Clips from THE IMITATION GAME Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, and Mark Strong

by     Posted 40 days ago

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The Weinstein Company has released six new clips from The Imitation Game online.  The film stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, a brilliant cryptanalyst whose expertise cracked Germany’s “Enigma code” and helped turn the tide of World War II for the Allies, but his homosexuality made him a target of persecution.  I saw the film at TIFF, quite enjoyed it, and am very eager to see it again.  Also, if you don’t need to worry about these clips spoiling the best moments from the movie.  They’re definitely good, but they won’t diminish your experience when you see the entire film.

Hit the jump to check out The Imitation Game clips.  The film also stars Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Charles Dance, Mark Strong, Rory Kinnear, Allen Leech, and Matthew BeardThe Imitation Game opens in the U.K. on November 14th and in the U.S. on November 28st.

Benedict Cumberbatch Ponders the Possibility of Thinking Machines in New THE IMITATION GAME Clip

by     Posted 45 days ago

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A new The Imitation Game clip has been released online for director Morten Tyldum’s drama about genius mathematician Alan Turing.  Benedict Cumberbatch plays Turing in the film, a brilliant cryptanalyst whose expertise cracked Germany’s “Enigma code” and helped turn the tide of World War II for the Allies, but whose homosexuality made him a target of persecution.  The film is told via a framing device in which Turing is under interrogation, and this clip comes from that portion of the story in which Turing attempts to explain his paper, aptly titled “The Imitation Game”.  This clip is a swell showcase of Cumberbatch’s phenomenal performance, which is layered with subtly as Cumberbatch attempts to convey Turing’s intellectual and analytical demeanor while also masking a weariness just beneath the surface.  It’s a terrific performance that’s not to be missed, and Cumberbatch will surely be a major contender in the coming Oscar race.

Watch the new The Imitation Game clip after the jump, and click here to read Matt’s review.  The film also stars Keira KnightleyMatthew GoodeCharles DanceMark StrongRory KinnearAllen Leech, and Matthew Beard.  The Imitation Game opens in the UK on November 14th and in the US on November 28th.

New PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR Trailer: Young Skipper, Kowalski and Rico Meet Baby Private

by     Posted 48 days ago

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Remember that footage from the Penguins of Madagascar New York Comic-Con panel showing how a young Skipper (Tom McGrath), Kowalski (Chris Miller) and Rico (John DiMaggio) first meet Private (Patrick Stuart)?  The film’s latest trailer actually shows off a good deal of it, minus the leopard seal scuffle, before launching into a roll call montage featuring the penguins and their new cohorts, the North Wind.  Together, they’ll take on Dr. Octavius Brine (John Malkovich), an accomplished geneticist.  Or he is?  Turns out, Dr. Octavius Brine is really Dave, an Octopus who used to live at the Central Park Zoo until the penguins completely overshadowed him, compelling the zoo staff to ship him off to another location.

Hit the jump to catch the gang in action in the latest Penguins of Madagascar trailer.  The film opens in 3D on November 26th and also features the voices of Benedict CumberbatchKen JeongAnnett Mahendru and Peter Stormare.  And in case you missed it, you can also watch my interview with directors Eric Darnell and Simon J. Smith right here.

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