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Movie News Mixtape: Thoughts On The New J.J. Abrams Monster Flick, How Jonah Jameson Became Commissioner Gordon, Trailers And Predictions


By Ryan Scott
Modern Times Magazine

March 10, 2016 — Greetings, movie lovers! Did you miss the major news and headlines from this week in film? Don’t you worry, because we’ve got you covered with the newest edition of the Movie News Mixtape. This week, some major casting announcements took place, a major trailer dropped like an atom bomb on the collective Internet and a few new films are being offered up to the masses, including a very long awaited sort-of-sequel. Let’s dig in, shall we?

10 Cloverfield Lane Review

We all know that J.J. Abrams likes to keep his secrets and, for the most part, the audience has been better served by it. We all got to go into Star Wars: The Force Awakens with only a general sense of what we were in for and that paid off in spades by most accounts. Going back eight years, the marketing campaign for Abrams’ Cloverfield divulged very little and was largely a mystery for the audiences that saw it. Well, good old Abrams pulled another fast one on us recently, and it hits theaters this weekend in the form of 10 Cloverfield Lane.

Fans have been absolutely clamoring for a sequel to the best Godzilla movie that wasn’t actually a Godzilla movie of all time ever since Cloverfield finished its run in theaters. However, the creative team of Matt Reeves and Abrams moved onto bigger things (budget wise) and the project sat in what we all assumed was some version of development hell. We were so wrong about that.

Abrams had been working with first time director Dan Trachtenberg — who many will know from his fan film about the game Portal — on a movie originally entitled The Cellar that didn’t raise many alarm bells with the news-hungry media. It was just another under-the-radar project at Abrams’ production company, Bad Robot. And that’s all it was until the trailer dropped in January with the new title in place. The fanboys started foaming at the mouth and with good reason. Though the film does not serve as a direct sequel, 10 Cloverfield Lane is what Abrams and Co. have dubbed a “spiritual successor” and a “blood relative” of sorts.

The film stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Michelle, a woman who finds herself in a pretty bad car wreck and is saved by Howard (played by John Goodman). After the crash, Howard takes Michelle to a creepy underground bomb shelter and assures her that something terrible has happened outside and it isn’t safe to leave. The two are joined by Emmett (played by John Gallagher Jr.) and, as one might expect, tensions rise and things do not go as planned.

After watching a preview screening, what stood out the most was the acting chops of the cast, with Goodman turning in a specifically top-notch performance. Trachtenberg is the breakout star here, though, as he clearly learned a thing or two from Abrams and was more than ready for a big feature film. In short, he nailed it.

This is a film that will be best enjoyed going in knowing as little as possible, but also going in knowing what to expect. This is not a two-hour “monster destroying a city” movie. Not by a long shot. It is instead a thriller/sci-fi mashup. It is best described by the film’s tagline, “monsters come in many forms.” That’s all you need. At this point, it is worth trusting in Abrams to tell you what you need to know and nothing more in order to have a cinematic experience that is devoid of spoilers and saturated with surprise as a result.

The film is tense, humorous, gritty, real, crazy and all around well done. Nobody should walk out of this film disappointed; that is a safe bet. That being said, for the love of all that is enjoyable in this life, do not seek out spoilers or any information beyond the trailers before seeing the movie!  It will rob you of some seriously great cinematic joy. If you’ve already seen Deadpool, 10 Cloverfield Lane is the clear cut choice for your box office dollars this weekend. Movies are, if nothing else, meant to be entertaining, and I feel genuinely sorry for anyone who is not entertained by this movie. It is that simple.

Trailer Tracker: Spider-Man Arrives In New Captain America: Civil War Trailer

The promotional campaign for Captain America: Civil War finally kicked into overdrive this week. Tons of posters, teaser videos and new looks at Black Panther got fans riled up. However, nothing can compare to the excitement that is being generated by the final trailer for the third installment in the Captain America series. Why? Because Spider-Man has FINALLY arrived, and it is by most accounts glorious. The trailer itself is a massive spectacle and is looking to take some wind out of the sails of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. In any case, be sure to check out the new trailer below and look for it in theaters on May 6.

Things We Learned: J. K. Simmons Has Landed A Major Role And Spider-Man Cast Takes Shape

J.K. Is No Longer JJ - For any Spider-Man fans that were holding out hope that J. K. Simmons was going to make a return as J. Jonah Jameson for the latest iteration of the franchise, those hopes have been dashed, but for a very good reason. As it turns out, Simmons has been cast as Commissioner Gordon in the upcoming Justice League movie, which means he’ll likely be in the greater Warner Bros. DC film universe for quite some time.

Speaking Of Spidey - Now for the good news for the next solo Spider-Man film. The casting process is underway and Disney star Zendaya has been cast in the film as a character simply named Michelle. Is that a diversion of some kind by Marvel and Sony? Or is it Peter Parker’s lesser known roommate from the comics? Either way, it adds some diversity to the cast.

Box Office Review/Preview and Predictions

Last week Disney continued to prove that it is very good at emptying the pockets of the masses as Zootopia became the single largest opening for a non-Pixar animated film the studio has ever released, bringing in $75 million. Gerard Butler saw slight redemption with London Has Fallen, which took in $21 million. Deadpool held strong with $16 million and a lot of other recent releases really lost some steam.

This week’s two major new releases, the aforementioned 10 Cloverfield Lane and the new Sacha Baron Cohen vehicle entitled The Brothers Grimsby are very different offerings but neither is likely to unseat Zootopia, though the Cloverfield sequel will likely do better than expected due to positive word of mouth.

Weekend Box Office Predictions

  • Zootopia
  • 10 Cloverfield Lane
  • London Has Fallen
  • The Brothers Grimsby
  • Deadpool

That’s it for this week, movie lovers. Be sure to come back next week for all of the Hollywood news you need, want and didn’t know you needed.

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