By Stephanie Zacharek
By Amy Nicholson
By Calum Marsh
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By Alan Scherstuhl
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Amy Nicholson
By Alan Scherstuhl
The Wolverine: Another would-be blockbuster that might be good but probably won't, this X-Men spin-off was originally supposed to be directed by Darren Aronofsky but is instead being helmed by Knight and Day director James Mangold. Based on the debut story in the first solo Wolverine comic series, written by Chris Claremont and drawn by Frank Miller, The Wolverine is set sometime after the events of the more-beguiling-than-actively-bad X-Men: The Last Stand. Logan (Hugh Jackman) fights some yakuza and falls in love. Could be busy fun, or it could just be busy, like X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Blue Jasmine: There's precious few details available for Woody Allen's latest comedy, but apparently it's about a neurotic housewife. The film's cast is typically varied and ranges from conventional picks like Alec Baldwin and Cate Blanchett to pleasant surprises like Sally Hawkins, Michael Stuhlberg, Louis C.K. and even Andrew Dice Clay. We're guessing Clay isn't the housewife.
Fruitvale Station: After winning Sundance's Grand Jury Prize, Ryan Coogler's indie drama was acquired by the Weinstein brothers and sent to Cannes. The Wire's Michael B. Jordan (Wallace!) stars as Oscar Grant, the real-life Bay Area resident gunned down in late 2009. Chad Michael Murray and Kevin Durand co-star as Grant's killers.
2 Guns: Icelandic filmmaker Baltasar Kormákur seems to have adopted a one-for-you, one-for-me approach to filmmaking. Before taking on 2 Guns, a crooked cops-vs.-mob thugs comic book adaptation starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg, Kormákur directed soulful, pulpy neo-noirs like Jar City, or last year's The Deep, and, uh, Contraband, a good-enough Wahlberg vehicle. 2 Guns looks like it's Kormákur's return to dumb-dumb mode, but he's a talented stylist, the cast is solid (Edward James Olmos and Bill Paxton!), and there's nothing wrong with the ol' summer pew-pew.
Europa Report: Most of the people involved with this indie sci-fi film are unknowns: The closest thing to a recognizable star is Michael Nyqvist, of the original Swedish Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movies. Still, since serious science fiction films are now almost as rare as westerns, this story about an expedition to Jupiter's fourth moon deserves a look.
The Spectacular Now: One year after he broke out at Sundance with Smashed, a drama about alcoholism starring Aaron Paul and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, director James Ponsoldt returns with an even more buzzed-about Sundance hit. Brie Larson, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Bob Odenkirk join Winstead in this teen romance, which is also to some extent about addiction. 21 & Over star Miles Teller plays Sutter, a popular high school senior who also drinks a lot. Sutter falls in love with a nice, safe nerdy girl, played by The Descendants' Shailene Woodley. Sounds like The Perks of Being a Wallflower but with booze and scruffy puppy love.
Elysium: Neil Blomkamp's follow-up to District 9 sounds like more of the same blunt science fiction social critique. In the year 2154, Earth is a ghetto for poor people who can't afford to live on Elysium, an orbiting space station. But the Terran plebs are restless, so it's up to Matt Damon to keep the haves away from the have-nots. District 10 co-stars Jodie Foster, Alice Braga and William Fichtner.
Blood: Nick Murphy's most flashy directorial credit is a couple of episodes of Primeval, the dino-hunting adventure show that fans of Brit sci-fi watch when Doctor Who isn't on. But his feature debut, The Awakening, was creepy fun, and his new cop drama, Blood, sounds promising. Mark Strong and Paul Bettany co-star as brothers who have to investigate a murder that they happen to have committed.
Metallica Through the Never: This Metallica concert doc was shot by Hungarian-American filmmaker Nimrod Antal, an exceptional modern-day B-moviemaker and talented stylist. Even if you're not a Metallica fan (and at this point, who is?), you might want to peek at how good the band will look. (How they'll sound isn't Antal's problem.)
Paranoia: Gary Oldman, Harrison Ford, Amber Heard, Josh Holloway and Richard Dreyfuss co-star in Legally Blonde director Robert Luketic's thriller about corporate espionage. Liam Hemsworth of Hunger Games fame plays Adam Cassidy, an entry-level employee who screws up at his job and is then given a choice: Spy on a rival corporation or get fired. Is it awful of us to wish the movie were more about one of the old guys?
Kick-Ass 2: Last time, director Matthew Vaughn brought out the best in Kick-Ass, Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.'s obnoxious, hyper-violent satirical superhero comic. Kick-Ass 2's trailer suggests the sequel's subtitle could be More of the Same, but hope stirs in the geek breast thanks to the arrival of new cast members John Leguizamo and Jim Carrey, the latter as a vigilante named "Colonel Stars and Stripes." Carrey's winningly deranged performance in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone suggests that the once-exciting performer can still be funny. And if the trailer is to be believed, Carrey will steal this proudly profane sequel.
Ain't Them Bodies Saints: Easily the biggest word-of-mouth at Sundance this year, St. Nick director David Lowery's breakthrough drama is now headed to the Croisette for the Cannes's Critic's Week sidebar. Casey Affleck stars as a killer who breaks out of jail and makes a long, bloody trek back home to his estranged family. Rooney Mara plays his two-timing wife, and Ben Foster is the other man — a cop, of course.
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