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One of the most discussed events at the 64th Cannes Film Festival – aside from Lady Gaga performing on the Croisette, Woody Allen debuting a film everyone agrees it pretty damn good, and provocateur Lars von Trier making a bad joke or two – was last Monday's premiere of The Tree Of Life.  The film from venerated auteur Terrance Malick was intended to premiere at last year's fest, but Malick was busy fine-tuning his opus, which stars Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain, and Sean Penn.  At the closing ceremony on Sunday, Malick's latest was awarded the festival's highest honor, despite less-than ecstatic reviews.

Back in the days before audiences really gave a rat's ruby starfruit about box office grosses, conventional wisdom held that the sequel game was generally one of diminishing returns, with each new entry earning less money than the film that preceded it.  Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the fourth installment of the franchise, opened with an estimated $90.1 million in its first three days.  That haul qualifies the Johnny Depp vehicle as the biggest debut weekend of 2011 so far, but it also established that the Pirates series has been performed somewhat more like an old-fashioned franchise. 

IAR Screens 'X-Men: First Class'

Saturday, 21 May 2011 16:03

If the world does end today that would be just fine with me because ... I just saw X-Men: First Class!

This morning I had the rare opportunity, along with a select group of fellow journalists, to attend an advanced screening of the highly anticipated prequel on the Fox lot. While I don’t want to spoil the movie for you and say too much, I can tell you that I really enjoyed it and think it could be one of the best films in the series. Fans of the X-Men comics and film franchise will be pleased because it is a faithful adaptation that pays respect to what’s come before it in both mediums. All of the actors are great in their respective roles and bring a fresh perspective to familiar characters.

Hey guess what?  We have a Cannes update that will not involve Lars von Trier beyond that merest mention.  Yesterday, the international brouhaha over a bad joke continued, while director Nicolas Winding Refn and star Ryan Gosling wowed attendees with Drive.  Today, by contrast, was considerably more low key.  This Must Be the Place, which stars Sean Penn as a goth rocker looking for revenge, had its big premiere.  The Sesame Street-centric documentary Being Elmo made multiple deals, and the Belgian film The Giants won two big prizes before it has even premiered.

Unlike Batman, Spider-Man, or Superman, Green Lantern does not have a backstory that is immediately familiar to the average moviegoer trying to decide where to spend his or her hard-earned ten-to-fifteen bucks.  That's why the latest trailer for Green Lantern spends a whole lot of time setting up the Green Lantern Corps and willpower-based rings before introducing Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan, the first human member of that intergalactic police force.  Amidst all that exposition, there's also a glut of new imagery from the film, so it's definitely worth giving this trailer a watch or two.

Tom Cruise has been associated with the science fiction actioner Horizons, aka Oblivion, since before director Joseph Kosinski's first feature film, Tron: Legacy hit theaters last December.  When Disney, which had been developing the film, opted not to proceed, Cruise came along with it as Kosinski and producers shopped it to other studios.  Deadline reports that with Horizons at Universal, Cruise has formally signed on to star in the post-apocalyptic film.

Captain Jack Sparrow is back! Opening in theaters today is the long awaited forth chapter of the beloved Pirates of the Caribbean series, this one entitled Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. The first film in the series, 2003’s Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, was based on the Disney theme park ride of the same name and surprised everyone by becoming a financial and critical hit, as well as rejuvenating Johnny Depp’s career and earning him his first Academy Award nomination. The filmmakers followed up on the success of the original movie by shooting two sequels back-to-back, ‘2006s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, as well as ‘2007s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. While both films were financial successes, neither movie scored as well with fans or critics as the first one.

But now, with the series having earned almost $2.6 billion worldwide up to this point, super-producer Jerry Bruckheimer (National Treasure), as well as actors Johnny Depp (Rango) and Academy Award winner Geoffrey Rush (Shine) return once again to the popular Pirates franchise for another fun-packed thrill-ride. In addition to the return of Depp and Rush, the film welcomes several new cast members including Oscar winner Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) as Jack Sparrow’s love interest, and Ian McShane (TV’s Deadwood), as the film’s dangerous new villain. The series also gets a new director with this installment as Academy Award nominee Rob Marshall (Chicago) takes over the duties from Gore Verbinski, who directed the first three films in the franchise.

Amongst professional wrestlers in this surreal modern era, showmanship is important, whether it's Hulk Hogan tearing off his little yellow tank tops or erstwhile The Rock Dwayne Johnson and his supernaturally elastic arching eyebrow.  In a crowd filled with such outsized personalities, Macho Man Randy Savage was a standout.  Signature moves like the atomic drop and the hair-pull hangman earned Macho Man a devoted following of wrestling enthusiasts, but his outrageous fashion sense, energetic persona, and wholly distinctive voice allowed him to carve a niche in the greater popular culture.  Unfortunately, Savage – whose name outside of the ring was Randall Poffo – died in an automobile accident today.  To mark his passing and his singular style, we're making Macho Man our first posthumous Rogue of the Week.

Pixar founder and Cars 2 co-director John Lasseter is an easy guy to like.  The fact that he directed Toy Story and is the top dog at the animation powerhouse would be enough, but his Hawaiian shirts and relentless enthusiasm are so boyishly endearing.  A new featurette for the Cars sequel includes a slew of new footage from the film, but also spends time with Lasseter, who explains the appeal of his globe-trotting automotive adventure.  Also included in the video are Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Emily Mortimer, Michael Caine, John Turturro, and Bonnie Hunt, all of whom lend their voices to Cars 2

As promised, today brings a third trailer for Transformers: Dark of the Moon, the swan song of franchise director Michael Bay.  The new trailer, which is playing in 3D before Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, still sports the July 1st release date, but the film has just been moved up to June 29th.  This is basically the same trailer as the one that we saw about three weeks back, but with more slow-motion autobot action sprinkled throughout.  Watch it right here and use your imagination to picture it in three dimensions.  That way you can save fifteen dollars.

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