J.J. Abrams Will Direct Star Trek 2

Star Trek fans rejoice, director J.J. Abrams will be back to helm the sequel to the fantastic 2009 reboot.

J.J. Abrams directs Star Trek

When I spoke to the director for Super 8 this past summer and asked what was next for the director — he hinted that in fact this news was coming. “Sooner rather than later is the next Star Trek,” he said.

Boy was he right. While Abrams has his hands in many pots, including executive producing the fall TV debut Person of Interest, rumors abounded that he may hand off the franchise he helped resurrect to some other director. After doing such a masterful job with Star Trek starring Chris Pine as Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock, the news that he has signed on to direct the sequel is blissful to say the least.

In my interview earlier this year with Abrams, I asked about the release date for Star Trek 2 being out there and how that would affect his decision to direct or not.

“I care much more that it be good than it be ready,” he said. “We’re obviously doing everything we can to make sure that schedules don’t get screwed up, but I don’t think anyone wants a movie on time that’s not worth your time.”

That sentiment must have played into the decision to sign on to direct the second film in a rebooted franchise as Paramount has announced that the June 2012 release date has been pushed back.

Finally I have this little tidbit from my Abrams chat about any daunting challenge about making Star Trek 2 after the success of Star Trek 1.

“I don’t think that’s been any kind of hindrance, or additional problem. But, I certainly think that we want to make sure that it’s done right. The guys we’re working with are obviously brilliant, so I’m really excited to get back into it. Super 8 has been something that I’ve been working on pretty closely, so it’s been hard to find the leisure time to discuss Kirk and Spock.”

The Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn Part 1: Longest Trailer Yet!

After months and months of teasing, Summit Entertainment has finally released the full length theatrical trailer for one of the most anticipated films of 2011: Breaking Dawn Part 1. And check out the new still below too!
Bella and Edward in Breaking Dawn
With the new two-minute-and-thirty-second trailer out there, audiences can fully grasp the scope of new-to-the-franchise director Bill Condon’s vision and how the Oscar winner takes the Twilight franchise to a new level while also wrapping it up in a nice bow.

One of the most, honestly, horrifying aspects of the Breaking Dawn book was the birth of Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward’s (Robert Pattinson) baby. This trailer gives a quick insight into the horror of that scene and what audiences can expect to witness on screen that appears to be faithful to Stephenie Meyer’s book.

“It’s crushing you from the inside out,” Edward says in the trailer. See! Prepare to squirm when witnessing the entire scene in the theater.

On a lighter note, the new trailer gives fans another glimpse into Edward and Bella’s beautiful wedding day. Twilight fanatics do know that this is the smallest of sunshine rays in an otherwise dark and driven conclusion to the Twilight series.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Full TrailerVIDEO

Straw Dogs Trailer: Can You Ever Go Home Again?

Straw Dogs heads into theaters September 16 and fans of the 1971 original, directed by legend Sam Peckinpah and starring Dustin Hoffman, have to be encouraged that the feel, at least, of the first ultra-violent film is congruent.

James Marsden in Straw Dogs

In the 2011 remake, directed by Rod Lurie and starring James Marsden, Kate Bosworth and Alexander Skarsgard, Marsden plays a Hollywood screenwriter who returns to the deep South hometown of his wife (Bosworth) to get her family home ready to be sold. Her father has just passed away and Bosworth’s character sees it as the last time she ever wants to go home.

The only problem is after some run-ins with the locals, will they even make it out of the area alive?

Bosworth’s Amy has history there, including an ex-boyfriend Charlie (Skarsgard) who is integral into the trouble that follows the young couple, slowly building to a simmering and violent conclusion.

Straw Dogs Trailer

Drive Interview: Ryan Gosling is in the Driver’s Seat

Ryan Gosling is in the preverbal driver’s seat when it comes to his career. To say he is hot right now is an understatement. After charming in Crazy Stupid Love, Gosling has two films that will heat up the fall: George Clooney’s The Ides of March and Drive. Drive is an astounding piece of filmmaking and firmly establishes Gosling as a Hollywood superstar. Gosling sat down with Movie Fanatic in Los Angeles right before heading to Toronto to promote Drive and Ides of March (don’t miss our Gosling in Toronto Ides interview coming soon!).

Ryan Gosling in Drive
Gosling first caught audiences’ attention in, of all things, The Mickey Mouse Club opposite none other than Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake. The Canadian-born actor is now an Oscar nominee and a certified movie star after his turn in the unforgettable The Notebook.

In Drive, audiences get to see Gosling in a whole new light. The film from director Nicolas Winding Refn is unabashedly one of the best of the year and that is large part due to Gosling’s stunning performance as a movie stunt driver who moonlights as a getaway driver for hire. Gosling stars opposite Carey Mulligan, Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman in a movie that not only looks like nothing you have ever seen before, but sounds and feels as unique a cinematic experience as Movie Fanatic has enjoyed in some time.

Movie Fanatic: Did they give you any kind of training to do the driving you did?

Ryan Gosling: I spent two weeks going to this church parking lot with Darren Prescott and every time we got there, there’d be a new Camaro or new Mustang and we would ride it to the rims. And when it was on fire or smoking or just wouldn’t move, some guy would come and take it away and fix it and we’d go home. It was the best two weeks of prep I’ve ever had [laughs].

Movie Fanatic: Did you do your own stunt driving and how much did they let you do?

Ryan Gosling: Some of it. The really cool stuff I didn’t do but the cool stuff I did. The really, really cool stuff was Jay Frye who’s about as good as it gets.

Movie Fanatic: Did you, before this movie, have a real appreciation for cars or was that something that grew during filming Drive… or at all?

Ryan Gosling stars in Drive

Ryan Gosling: I never really cared about cars, I still don’t. I worked on this car that I drive in the movie so I have an affection for it, but just for it. And even it kind of rubs me the wrong way. I worked with this guy Pedro who’s a great guy — talks about himself in the first person and steals fruit from people’s lawns and puts it in the top shelf of his tool chest and then every morning feels them to see which one’s ripe, which ones he’s gonna eat that day — and he’s just a lovely guy but he changed my transmission and it really stings. Because I did everything with the car except for that and he knew it. On the last day when I was going to finish the car I came in and he changed my transmission. He thought it was really funny. It cut me because now I can’t say I did everything on the car.

Movie Fanatic: Did you get to keep those bad-ass driving gloves and scorpion jacket?

Ryan Gosling: Yeah, I made those so I have many versions of them.

Movie Fanatic: You seem to have a real passion for film as evidenced by your role in making Drive — not simply acting. Where did that arise from? 

Ryan Gosling: When I was a kid and I first saw First Blood, it put a spell on me and I thought I was Rambo. I went to school the next day with my Fisher Price Houdini kit filled with steak knives and I threw it at all the kids at recess, threw knives at them [laughs]. I got suspended which I should have been and I learned my lesson and I’m sorry. But my parents then put a leash on me and said, “This kid can’t watch movies because they put a spell on him.” So I could only watch Bible movies and National Geographic movies and Abbott and Costello movies. Meanwhile all of those movies are kind of violent so it didn’t really work but I see what they were going for.

Movie Fanatic: How did you come to get this fascinating role and how did you approach this character?

Carey Mulligan and Ryan Gosling in Drive
Ryan Gosling: Marc Platt (producer) gave me this script and said, “Do you want to produce it with me?” and then any director I wanted, he would support. So, I had to find the right director. My personal feelings about the script were two things. One is that I’ve always wanted to see a violent John Hughes movie and I always thought that if Pretty in Pink had a head smashing it’d be perfect [laughs]. When I read this script and I was looking at this character’s behavior — he was going around acting like a maniac — I thought this is somebody who has seen too many movies. And because he was a stuntman, it seemed we could go deeper into that idea — he had basically become the hero of the movie of his life. I thought that could be implemented into this script but I needed a director who could help me achieve that. I’ve seen Nicolas’ (Winding Refn) Valhalla Rising and his films are deeply rooted in mythology and they feel like fairy tales. I felt like Drive should have a fairy tale quality because it’s set in Los Angeles — which is a fairy tale land based on fantasy. That driver is more like a knight in his mind anyway, Irene (Carey Mulligan) is the damsel in distress, Ron Perlman’s a dragon, and Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks) is the evil wizard. I’m watching his films and I see that his films are like Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales and they’re also very personal. They don’t try and please anyone but him. I wanted this movie to be something that had personality, an identity, and also that you wanted to be in the movie theater to see it. When I saw Valhalla Rising and the guy cuts open the stomach of his friend and starts showing him his own guts, everybody in the movie theater starts hitting each other and laughing and freaking out, whether you liked it or not, I know that you were happy to see it in the theater. It’s not the kind of thing you want to see at home. I wanted to make a movie that you wanted to go to the movie theater to see.

Movie Fanatic: You have explosive scenes in Drive with Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman, how was working with the two of them and developing these climactic scenes?

Ryan Gosling: Ron Perlman is just an endless well of great lines. For instance, I’m trying to drown him in the ocean and every time I push him into the water, the tide goes out and I’m just pushing his face into the mud. Then, the ocean comes back it knocks us both over and we have to start again. We do it all night until the sun comes up and he tears his ACL. When we finally get the one shot that we need where I put him under for long enough, he stands up and he says to Nicolas, “Yo, Nicky, that was the one. And if you don’t like that, you don’t like ice cream, mother (expletive).” [Laughs] And he does this snap, and then he limps back to his trailer and doesn’t come out. That’s what it’s like working with him all the time.

Movie Fanatic: Albert Brooks was scary!

Albert Brooks and Ryan Gosling in Drive

Ryan Gosling: He’s the only person we wanted to play this role. He had to do it or we didn’t know what we were going to do if he didn’t. He came on and I think anyone who’s seen the film singles him out as one of the most memorable parts of it. He not only plays that character but he owns that character to the point that he possesses it and you can’t see any one else playing that part.

Movie Fanatic: At the end of the day, could you leave this character behind or did you take it with you — as in the case of the fight you broke up in New York recently?

Ryan Gosling: No, that (the fight) was stupid [laughs]. I’m not a good enough actor to become a character and be that person for the duration of shooting. What I can do is turn up the parts of myself that are like that character and turn down the parts that aren’t. What I have in common with the character is amplified while I’m shooting. In this case, making this film, it was very peaceful because the character was very introverted, a watcher. I gave myself permission to do that while we were shooting. I wanted to be in character.

Movie Fanatic: The style of Drive is so specific and different, down to the title treatment and the music — did you know that’s how the final product would be?

Ryan Gosling: This movie wouldn’t have happened if REO Speedwagon hadn’t come on the radio when I was driving Nicolas home from our first terrible meeting. The movie wasn’t happening. It was a bad meeting. It was a bad date — no one was getting any action. So it was just get out of the car, go home. He wanted to get out and suddenly REO Speedwagon comes on the radio and he starts crying and singing at the top of his lungs, the song to me. He said, “This is it. This movie is about a guy who can’t feel anything unless he’s driving around listening to pop music.” The movie was conceived in my car. He and I creatively mated and created this movie baby. Then we had to raise it together. We would shoot all day, cut out all the dialogue, then go home and edit it, then drive around all night — going to the 101 diner talking about life and music and movies. That would influence what we shot the next day. So, it had this dream-like quality while we were shooting it and I think that’s what the movie feels like. It feels like we didn’t have a plan going into it. Something happened in the car when REO Speedwagon came on and we were chasing that the whole time. We were trying to figure out what happened, why we both felt that same way. I felt the same way. It should be about this guy who drives around listening to music. He’s from Copenhagen, I’m from Canada. How did that happen? Why are we both having the same idea? Why did REO Speedwagon’s I Can’t Fight This Feeling come on the radio? Are we supposed to make this movie or are we crazy? Have we seen too many movies?

DVD Release: Thor Hammers it Home

Thor is not the only blockbuster film to be released on home video this week, there are a few huge ones that don’t arrive in stores until a rare Friday release (Star Wars Blu-Ray and X-Men: First Class). We’ll report on those later in the week. But, for now, home video is all about Thor, and in some ways the relatable film, The Tempest. As William Shakespeare expert Kenneth Branagh directed Thor and gave it a classic dysfunctional royal family Shakespearean feel, Shakespeare’s The Tempest gets a redo with a cast led by Oscar winner Helen Mirren. Oh, and who could forget the home video release of Hesher with its astounding performance by Joseph Gordon Levitt?

Thor: One of the best and most wonderful surprises of the summer is landing on DVD and Blu-Ray today and that is Thor. Chris Hemsworth is Thor and Branagh could not have cast anyone better. The film lives or dies in this casting and Hemsworth is a dream come true for Thor fans. The story follows the Norse god as he is banished to Earth from Asgard for going against the wishes of his father (Anthony Hopkins). Once on Earth, he meets Natalie Portman and trouble follows him. He must fight back the evil to save not only Asgard, but his new adoptive home as well.

Thor on Blu-Ray

The Tempest: Helen Mirren rocks in this adaptation of the Shakespeare classic. Also look for killer performances from the underused Djimon Hounsou and Russell Brand as you’ve never seen him before. The Tempest is brought to life for its 2010 release by renowned director Julie Taymor.

The Tempest Blu-Ray

Hesher: Joseph Gordon Levitt plays an anarchist (leagues away from his astounding turn in 50/50) who lives in the garage of Rainn Wilson and his young son. The boy and his dad are lost in grief over the death of Wilson’s wife and the boy’s mother and an unlikely friendship is spawned producing comedy, drama and hope.

Hesher Blu-Ray