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Here's What Interstellar Gets Wrong About Space


insterstellar slateI generally enjoy writing movie reviews; they’re a fun way to gather my thoughts about a movie, analyzing its plot, the production, the writing, even the science.

It’s for that very reason I dreaded writing this one. I was really looking forward to seeing Interstellar … but I thought it was awful. A total mess. So if you’re looking for a tl;dr, there it is. I really, really didn’t like it. And I really, really wanted to.

What makes it worse is that the movie could have been truly great. The overall plot isn’t bad (if a rehash of an old science fiction idea), and some of the ideas in it were solid.

The special effects were breathtaking. Outstanding. But they can’t carry a movie with leaden dialogue, obvious foreshadowing, ham-fisted philosophy, and a serious but misguided attempt to be deep. And a lot of the critical details in the plot were a mishmash of ideas that made no sense.

And the science. Oh dear. The science.

From here on out there will be spoilers, so fairly warned be thee, say I.

Plot Boiler

The plot is hard to synopsize, but here’re the bullet points: In some unspecified time in the future, likely more than 50 years hence, the world is in ecological disaster. Crops are failing, food is scarce, billions have died. Matthew McConaughey plays Cooper, an ex-pilot and engineer who is now struggling to grow corn on his farm along with his father-in-law, son, and daughter Murph.

His daughter complains of a ghost in her room that’s trying to send her messages. Initially dismissive, Cooper discovers the messages are real, are encoded using gravity somehow, and include coordinates to a location somewhere within driving distance.

interstellar matthew mcconaughey Cooper and Murph discover a secret NASA base at those coordinates, and Cooper is told that half a century before, a “gravitational anomaly” was discovered out near Saturn: a wormhole, presumably placed there by aliens, also presumably the same beings who communicated with Murph using gravity.

A dozen habitable planets have been detected on the other side, and a dozen humans sent to explore them. One system has three potentially habitable planets, and it’s now up to Cooper to pilot a ship through the wormhole, figure out which planet is best, and save humanity by giving humans a new home.

At this point the movie pretty much falls apart, both scientifically and in its storytelling. For example, NASA, despite being defunded decades before, somehow has the capability of launching dozens of crewed ships that would cost hundreds of billions of dollars each (and does so, inexplicably—get used to that word—from an underground silo that is literally right next to its work offices). It wasn’t clear why the ships had to have a crew as opposed to being robotic, and the idea that only low-bandwidth data could be sent back (thus precluding getting lots of details about the planets) struck me as a brazen and clunky plot device to get Cooper and his crew to go take a look for themselves.

Cooper successfully pilots the ship through the wormhole (which was lovely and quite well-done, even down to the much-used explanation of how wormholes work borrowed from A Wrinkle in Time), and on the other side he and his crew find the three-planet system, which is inexplicably orbiting a black hole. I sighed audibly at this part. Where do the planets get heat and light? You kinda need a star for that. Heat couldn’t be from the black hole itself, because later (inevitably) Cooper has to go inside the black hole, and he doesn’t get fried. So the planets inexplicably are habitable despite no nearby source of warmth.

At this point I could go on and on (and on and on and on and on … ) with the scientific missteps the movie takes from here. Let me just pick one example, since it was crucial to the movie’s plot but shows how much science was tossed out the airlock.

The Planet That Wasn’t There

It turns out that one of the three planets orbits very close to the black hole, so close there will be severe relativistic effects. Relative to a distant observer, time slows down near a black hole (true), so one hour on the planet will equal seven years elapsing back on Earth.

Right away, this is a big problem. To get that kind of time dilation (a factor of about 60,000), you need to be just over the surface of the black hole, and I mean just over the surface, practically skimming it. But because of the way black holes twist up space, the minimum stable orbit around a black hole must be at least three times the size of the black hole itself. Clocks would run a bit more slowly at that distance than for someone on Earth, but only by about 20 percent.

In other words, for the planet to have the huge time dilation claimed in the movie, it would have to be too close to the black hole to have a stable orbit. Bloop! It would fall in.

Also, there’s the problem of tides. One side of the planet is much closer to the black hole than the other side. Gravity changes with distance; the farther you are from the source, the weaker the gravity you feel. The change in the force of the black hole’s gravity across a planet’s diameter is very large, creating a tidal force that stretches the planet. That close to a black hole, the tidal force is huge, mind-(and planet-)bendingly huge. So huge, the planet would be torn to shreds, vaporized.

So if the planet doesn’t fall in, it’s crushed to literally vapor. Either way, there’s no planet.

In the movie, of course, the planet is there. The explorers go down and find it covered in water as well as suffering through periodic ginormous tidal waves sweeping around it. These are unexplained, and I assumed they were caused by tides from the black hole … but that doesn’t work either. That close to the black hole, this inexplicably unvaporized planet would be tidally locked, always showing one face toward the hole. There would be huge tidal bulges pointing toward and away from the hole, but they wouldn’t move relative to the surface of the planet. No waves.

Plot Hole

The planet’s very existence is just one example of the scientific stumbles in the movie. There are many others. OK, fine, let me give just one more: the ultimate black hole.

For the climax of the movie, Cooper has to fall into it. We see a ring of material around the black hole, presumably the accretion disk: a flat, swirling disk of material that is about to fall into the hole.

Because of the incredible forces involved, accretion disks are extremely hot, like millions of degrees hot. They are so brilliant, they can be seen millions of light-years away and blast out enough radiation to completely destroy any normal material.

black holeYet Cooper flies over one like he’s flying over Saturn’s rings (literally; it was a visual callback to an earlier scene in the movie when they actually fly past Saturn’s rings). In reality, his ship would be flash-heated to a bazillion degrees and he would be nothing more than a thin and very flat stream of subatomic particles. All right all right all right?

Also, for some reason, we don’t see the accretion disk moving; it’s static, frozen, when in reality it would be whirling madly around the black hole. And, due to the tides I mentioned earlier, as Cooper fell in he would’ve been torn apart.

The Play’s The Thing

You may think this is nitpicking, and in a sense it is; I can happily forgive bad science if good science would get in the way of the storytelling. But in this case, the science is critical to the storytelling: This movie is all about black holes. In fact, one of the executive producers is theoretical physicist Kip Thorne (one of the robots in the movie is named KIPP, which made me smile), a scientist for whom I have quite a bit of respect. Thorne’s participation got some press, mostly due to the way black holes in the movie are depicted—and they are visually stunning.

That’s fine, but the thing is, there’s nothing in this movie dealing with black holes you couldn’t find in a college textbook or a Wikipedia page. The ideas of time dilation, warping space, wormholes, even time travel at the end: There’s nothing really new here, and almost all of it has been used in science fiction before. Thorne is a great and very important physicist, and I mean absolutely no disparagement of him, but I’m not sure how the plot of this movie would have been different had he not been involved.

The real problem isn’t with the science, it’s with the story. I’m sure Thorne knew the science was (way) off, but I can guess that director and screenwriter Christopher Nolan chose to ignore those issues in order to advance his story.

christopher nolan interstellar filming

Even ignoring the problems with the science, it was the storytelling in the movie that made it nearly unwatchable for me.

The characters have very little depth, for one, and the dialogue turned into pure cheese several times.

In a conversation between Cooper and Anne Hathaway’s character about love, she says that love is an artifact of a higher dimension (what does that even mean?) and “transcends the limits of time and space,” as if it’s a physical force—an allusion to gravity, which, critically to the plot, does transcend dimensions, time, and space.

The dialogue here was stilted to say the least, and it gets worse when Matt Damon’s character talks about a parent’s love for his children, saying, “Our evolution has yet to transcend that simple barrier.” Who talks like that? The movie is riddled with attempts to be profound, but due in part to the clunky dialogue it just sounds silly.

The plotting was just as laborious. The setup was ham-fisted and plodding; it was obvious immediately that Murph’s “ghost” would turn out to be a black-hole-diving time-traveling Cooper, and that the aliens were in fact advanced humans from the future.

They apparently created the black hole and wormhole in the first place, manipulating time and events so things had to unfold the way they did. That part was interesting, though by no means new; Kurt Vonnegut covered this thoroughly in The Sirens of Titan, for example. This might not seem obvious to folks who haven’t watched or read a lot of science fiction, which is fine, but for it to be the Big Reveal fell pretty flat for me.

There were obvious nods to 20012010, and several other movies. And sometimes more than just nods … in an early scene, before he leaves for his space voyage, Cooper decides to give his daughter a gift. It turns out to be a wristwatch, which later in the movie proves critical in her being able to save the world.

I almost yelled at the screen during that scene. In the movie Contact, McConaughey’s character gives Jodie Foster’s character a compass before she goes on her space voyage, and tells her it might just save her life (which it eventually does). The same actor in a similar movie performs the same gift-giving act with a similar gift that turns out to have similar plot results.

There are so many other problems with this movie: characters tossed aside, huge plot points that pivot on coincidence or on one character’s offhand comment that gives another character a crazy-idea-that-just-might-work, plot threads that wind up going nowhere. Like I said, it was a mess.

I’m a scientist, I love science, and I love it when it’s treated well in a movie. But it wasn’t the science that sunk this movie. I’d say that the real, basic problem with Interstellar is that it’s a movie that desperately wants to be profound, but simply isn’t. Had the profundity not been repeatedly shouted at us, it might have worked better.

Ironically, in the end this movie all about gravity doesn’t have the gravitas it thinks it has. 

Here is a clip from Interstellar:

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Disney's 'Big Hero 6' Takes Down 'Interstellar' At The Box Office


big hero 6 baymax hiro

We knew it would be a huge, close weekend at the box office between "Interstellar" and "Big Hero 6," and it looks like the Mouse House is the big winner, at home anyway.

Disney's latest animated picture brought in an estimated $56.2 million at the box office over the weekend. That's more than both "Tangled" and "Wreck-It Ralph," which the film was tracking ahead of at the end of last week.

Some analysts predicted the Disney film could hit as high as $66 million.

Early numbers for director Christopher Nolan's "Interstellar" are reporting box office at $52.2 million. That's slightly short of expectations which had the film outpacing the opening weekend for last year's sci-fi space epic, "Gravity." That film made $55.8 million upon debut. 

Here's how that compares to the opening for Nolan's other films. It makes more sense to compare "Interstellar" with "Inception" rather than his Batman superhero trilogy.

MovieOpening Box OfficeWorldwide Box OfficeEstimated Budget
"Interstellar"$52.2 million$132 million (so far)$165 million
"The Dark Knight Rises"$161 million$1.1 billion$250 million
"Inception"$62.8 million$825.5 million$160 million
"The Dark Knight"$158.4 million$1 billion$185 million
"The Prestige$14.8 million$110 million$40 million
"Batman Begins"$48.7 million$374 million$150 million
"Insomnia"$20.9 million$114 million$46 million
"Memento"$235,488$39.7 million$9 million

Final numbers will most likely adjust upwards. 

How did Disney get the edge over Nolan's movie?

"Big Hero 6" had a few advantages over "Interstellar":

  • "Big Hero 6" was showing in 3D, meaning higher ticket prices (Christopher Nolan isn't a fan of the format).
  • Families were most likely heading out to see "Big Hero 6" in groups. 
  • There were more showings of "Big Hero 6" since the film's runtime (108 mins.) is a lot shorter than Nolan's nearly 3-hour sci-fi flick.
  • "Big Hero 6" is Disney Animation's followup to billion dollar movie, "Frozen." People want to know if Disney can pull off another success story.
  • "Big Hero 6" was playing in 200 more theaters than "Interstellar" (3,761 vs. 3,561)

The bigger winner of the weekend is actually "Interstellar." 

When you factor in the foreign box office, Nolan's sci-fi film is killing it. The movie has already made $80 million overseas

At the end of the big weekend, "Interstellar" has made $132 million while "Big Hero 6" has taken in $79.2 million. Paramount and Warner Bros. are hoping the film has staying power at theaters which could become tough with the next installment of "The Hunger Games" in theaters Nov. 21.

Regardless of which movie came out on top, this was one of the biggest and most significant box-office weekends of 2014 as it was the first weekend where two films debuted above $50 million at the box office. That's something that has only happened four times at the box office.

SEE ALSO: There are 6 different ways to see "Interstellar"— here's how to see it

AND: Our review of "Interstellar":

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A Huge Actor Has A Surprise Cameo In 'Interstellar'


Warning: Huge spoilers for "Interstellar" follow.

Director Christopher Nolan's films are known for being shroud in secrecy. You usually know very little about the plot even after the first trailers are revealed and sometimes a few big names pop up in unexpected roles. 

So it should come as little shock that a huge actor makes a surprise appearance in "Interstellar."

In fact, he's been hiding in the trailers and no one has even realized it.

Last chance to head back before spoilers.

interstellar matthew mcconaughey cooper

Around the two hour mark in "Interstellar," Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway's characters, in search of a habitable planet to save mankind, land on a foreign planet covered in ice where another astronaut, Dr. Mann, has been stranded for an undetermined amount of time. 

Up until this point, viewers know little about the mysterious Dr. Mann other than he's a supposedly brave astronaut who set off on a similar mission in the past. 

When Cooper and Brand come across Mann, he's sealed in a cryogenic hibernation pod. As they awaken him, you have a feeling it's about to be a huge actor reveal.

Sitting up, staring us straight in the face is Matt Damon.


This won’t be a surprise to everyone. The Playlist reported back in summer 2013 that Damon joined the cast in a small, secret role; however, no one really made a big deal out of it.

Damon's role is so secretive that he isn't mentioned anywhere in Paramount's lengthy production notes for the film handed out to press at screenings. In fact, he's listed as an uncredited actor in the film.

It's surprising more people haven't been discussing it online yet, because if you've steered clear of trailers and news, you'll be genuinely shocked. It's surely one thing people will be talking about after seeing the film.

The best part? Damon's been staring at us in the trailers.

Sort of. 

There are at least two instances of his character I've managed to spot after going back and re-watching the trailers.

Here on the icy planet you can spot four astronauts. There's McConaughey and Hathaway's characters, along with another astronaut played by David Gyasi. If memory serves correct, Damon is in the lead as he shows off the planet to the others.

interstellar matt damon

In another more prominent scene that stands out in multiple trailers, you can see his figure as he reacts to an explosion.matt damon interstellar

I won't give too much more away about Damon's role, but I will say there is a scene where Damon and McConaughey fight in their astronaut suits and for some reason all I could think was that two of People magazine's former Sexiest Men Alive were having it out. 

It wasn't too long ago that Matt Damon was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, starring in everything from "Invictus" and "Informant!" to "True Grit." Now, McConaughey has sort of taken that crown from him during an age that has been coined the McConnaissance, so to watch the two duel it out in a battle royale of sorts is kind of fitting.

Of course, I'm sure this isn't what Nolan intended. But now you’re going to think about it, too.

I wouldn't be surprised if we start to see more of Damon in marketing after the film's nationwide release in theaters this Friday, Nov. 7.

SEE ALSO: Our review of "Interstellar"

AND: Why you won't see "Interstellar" or any other Christopher Nolan movie in 3D

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Morgan Spurlock’s Next Documentary Is About NYC’s Rat Infestation


morgan spurlock

Dakota Group, Ltd. & Submarine are partnering with Morgan Spurlock and his doc label Warrior Poets to produce the feature length doc Rats NYC, based on The New York Times best-selling book by author Robert Sullivan Rats: Observations on the History & Habitat of the City’s Most Unwanted Inhabitants. Doc will go before the cameras in January.

In the book, author Robert Sullivan investigated an alley a few blocks away from Wall Street that was laden with rats. The doc, like the book, will explore the origins of rats and their dual nature as the progenitors for historical plagues as well as being the test subjects for scientific discoveries. Doc will feature discussions with exterminators, city officials, sanitation workers, agitators, activists, hunters, Nobel scientists, and historians.subway rat

Rats NYC was negotiated by David Koh, Stanley Buchthal, Dan Braun & Josh Braun on behalf of Dakota Group, Ltd. & Submarine along with Paul Brennan of 3B Law Firm and Lisa Davis of Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz on behalf of the director Morgan Spurlock and Warrior Poets. David Koh, Stanley Buchthal, Dan Braun & Josh Braun will produce for Dakota Group, Ltd. & Submarine. Spurlock and Jeremy Chilnick will also produce for Warrior Poets. Submarine has domestic and worldwide sales.

In a statement, Spurlock stated, “As a New Yorker, I’ve had a two decade long love/hate affair with rats.  We’ve all seen them, and we all live with them, we just don’t want to know we’re living with them. This movie is going to be a modern day horror film – it will make you squirm, scream & jump out of your chair. You may not like rats, but you’ll love this movie.”

SEE ALSO: Why You Will Not See 'Interstellar' Or Any Other Christopher Nolan Movie In 3D

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Here Is The Only Way You Should See 'Interstellar'


interstellar matthew mcconaughey

There are six different ways to see "Interstellar." 

If you're heading out to see the film, which opened in theaters Friday, you want to make sure you're seeing it in the best possible way.

Now that I've seen the movie twice, in 70mm IMAX and 70mm film, it became instantly clear Nolan's sci-fi film should be seen on the biggest screen possible. 

Friday evening, I headed over to New York City's Ziegfeld theater to see the movie on 70mm film. Since Nolan filmed the movie in both 65mm IMAX and 35mm anamorphic film, I figured it only made sense to see it in both IMAX and film before making a decision on the right way to see it.

My biggest concern was how the big IMAX scenes would transition over to a smaller screen. There are a few absolutely gorgeous moments when Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway's characters are blasting through space that I couldn't imagine looking better in any format other than IMAX.

interstellar sky

While I was pleasantly surprised to still feel the pull of being taken through space in 70mm, those scenes felt much more immersive while seeing it in IMAX. You feel like you're on a ride as you appear to zoom through a wormhole and across an icy planet.

Your eyes can't help but wander up the screen as you feel the enormity of a giant wave on another planet. 

waves interstellar

The only problem is that if you want to see "Interstellar" on a legitimate IMAX screen, they are few in the US. As IMAX has become an increasingly popular format, many theaters started retrofitting theaters with smaller IMAX screens that are around 30 feet high.

There is only one real IMAX screen in New York City, the AMC Lincoln Square theater. It's about a 600-person theater with a screen that's 80 feet high and 100 feet wide. If there's a movie worth seeing in IMAX, that's the theater I'll want to see it at.

According to Paramount, there are 42 theaters showing "Interstellar" in 70mm IMAX in the US and Canada. Here's the full list of US theaters: 

Huntsville: IMAX, U.S. Space & Rocket Center 

Tempe: Harkins Arizona Mills 25 & IMAX

Dublin: Regal Hacienda Crossings Stadium 21 & IMAX
Hollywood: TCL Chinese Theatres IMAX
Irvine: Edwards Irvine Spectrum 21 IMAX & RPX
Sacramento: Esquire IMAX
San Francisco: AMC Meteon 16 & IMAX
San Jose: Hackworth IMAX Dome, The Tech Museum
Universal City: AMC Universal Citywalk Stadium 19 & IMAX

Denver: UA Colorado Center Stadium 9 & IMAX  

Washington: Lockheed Martin IMAX, National Air & Space Museum

Fort Lauderdale: Autonation IMAX, Museum of Discovery & Science
Tampa: IMAX Dome, Museum of Science & Industry

Buford: Regal Mall of Georgia Stadium 20 & IMAX

Des Moines: Blank IMAX Dome, Science Center of Iowa

Boise: Edwards Boise Stadium 22 & IMAX

Chicago: Navy Pier IMAX
Lincolnshire: Regal Lincolnshire Stadium 21 & IMAX

Indianapolis: IMAX, Indiana State Museum

Dearborn: IMAX, The Henry Ford
Grand Rapids: Celebration! Cinema Grand Rapids North & IMAX

Apple Valley: Great Clips IMAX, Minnesota Zoo

Branson: Branson's IMAX

Las Vegas: Benden Theatres & IMAX at the Palms

New York
New Rochelle: Regal New Roc Stadium 18 & IMAX
New York City: AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13 & IMAX
Rochester: Cinemark Tinseltown USA & IMAX
West Nyack: AMC Loews Palisades 21 & IMAX

King of Prussia: UA King of Prussia Stadium 16 & IMAX
Philadelphia: Tuttleman IMAX, The Franklin Institute

Rhode Island
Providence: Providence Place Cinemas 16 & IMAX

Nashville: Regal Opry Mills Stadium 20 & IMAX

Austin: IMAX, The Bullock Texas State History Museum
Dallas: Cinemark 17 & IMAX
San Antonio: AMC Rivercenter 11 & IMAX

Chantilly: Airbus IMAX, Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center

Seattle: Boeing IMAX, Pacific Science Center

There is one issue I had seeing the film in 70mm IMAX at AMC's Lincoln Square. I couldn't help but think the sound was better at the Ziegfeld in 70mm film.

We're not the only ones.

While the sound didn't appear to distort any of the dialogue during my IMAX screening at Lincoln Square, I did pick up on a few more jokes from a wise-cracking robot named TARS that I missed the first time around. 

The sound of composer Hans Zimmer's harrowing soundtrack was less deafening and dynamic in the Ziegfeld. If you're not a fan of very loud films, 70mm may be the way to go. 

SEE ALSO: Our review of "Interstellar"

AND: A huge actor has a big cameo in "Interstellar"

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Neil deGrasse Tyson Gives The Science Of 'Interstellar' A Surprisingly Good Review


neil degrasse tyson in space ooyala 16x9

Unlike his scientific review of "Gravity," Neil deGrasse Tyson is full of praise for Christopher Nolan's "Interstellar."

The astrophysicist reviewed the new film via Twitter Sunday night, posting his thoughts to his 2.61 million followers.

In addition to pointing out how many of the scientists or engineers in the film are played by women (half), he also discussed the factuality behind worm holes, black holes, and relativity of time.

Read deGrasse Tyson's full "Interstellar" review below, though he does warn "Never look to me for opinions on new films... all I do is highlight the science one might or might not find in them.”

"Interstellar" raked in $47.5 million at the box office over the weekend  still not as great as the $55 million "Gravity" opening weekend.

SEE ALSO: Here is the only way you should see 'Interstellar'

AND: Our review of 'Interstellar'

MORE: Neil deGrasse Tyson: I Loved 'Gravity' But Here's What The Movie Got Wrong

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3 'Interstellar' Plot Holes That Make No Sense


matthew mcconaughey interstellar

I've now seen "Interstellar" twice.

Like the majority of director Christopher Nolan's film, it's the sort of movie that needs to be seen more than once to fully comprehend what you're watching. (Did you understand "Inception" after one view?)

If you're confused, there's a handy graphic making the rounds on Reddit explaining the timeline of the film in great depth. I highly recommend checking it out.

However, there are still a few things that didn't make complete sense after spending six hours with Nolan's latest. 

Over the weekend, variousarticles have hit the web pointing out plot holes and items that supposedly don't make sense with the film. Most of these are silly (i.e.: Why was Topher Grace in the film? ... That's not a plot hole.)

After a second viewing, there are only three things that really stand out to me as absurdly strange. 

WARNING: Spoilers Ahead

1. Help us, Matthew McConaughey. You’re NASA’s only hope … that they didn't even know they needed.

matthew mcconaughey interstellar

When Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and his daughter Murph (MacKenzie Foy) stumble upon the remains of NASA in an underground lair, he's first grilled about how he found the location before getting recruited to fly a space shuttle into the great unknown to save all of mankind. 

When someone from NASA recognizes him, Cooper's quickly told he was one of the best pilots that NASA ever had and that he's JUST the person they need to command their ship. Wait. What? 

One minute NASA was ready to do away with Cooper and the next minute they're viewing him as their golden boy.

Even Cooper seemed slightly skeptical of the entire thing. Wouldn't NASA have had a list of all the astronauts who ever flew for them? If he really was one of the best pilots who ever flew for them, why wouldn't NASA seek Cooper out to see if he was alive and available to fly for them?

If he showed up a day late, he would have never gone on this mission. 

2. The Morse Code watch.

interstellar matthew mcconaughey It's made clear early on in the film that the only way to save mankind on a dying Earth is to solve a gravity equation. There's just one problem. To solve that equation, we need data from inside a black hole. It's not like anyone can just go inside a black hole, retrieve some data, and head back home. 

Naturally, near the end of the film, McConaughey's character enters into a black hole along with a military robot named TARS. It's a moment that will probably make you scratch your head at first. Cooper enters a three-dimensional fifth dimension (just go with it) which is visualized as the space behind his daughter's bookshelf. 

To be clear, I don't understand why Cooper conveniently winds up here (I'm assuming it's because of the bond between he and his daughter. We're told earlier in the film that love transcends time and space). Either way, Cooper now knows he has the data he needs to solve the gravity equation. The problem is getting that information back to Earth so the equation can be solved.

Cooper quickly figures out that gravity can cross the dimensions. So to save the planet, he sends all of the data across time and space into a watch he left his daughter by translating it into morse code displayed by the second hand on her watch. 

interstellar shot

This was probably the most bizarre and seemingly convenient plot device engineered in order to save the Earth. I understand that Cooper and his daughter had this connection with the watches and that it would make sense for Cooper to use the watch to communicate with his daughter, but we're supposed to believe that the answer to mankind's biggest question lies in deciphering morse code from the seconds on a watch?

My suspension of disbelief can only go so far.

3. Cooper spends the entire movie trying to get back to his children only to leave them after a two-minute reunion.

Probably the most difficult thing to swallow about the movie is that when Cooper is finally reunited with his family years later, he spends about two minutes with his youngest child, Murph, before heading off again onto another space adventure.

Even worse? Cooper doesn't ask anyone how his son Tom is doing or whether he's alive. Tom was the only child consistently sending video messages to his father while he was off in space. He even brought his father to tears.

cooper son interstellar

It's pretty clear Cooper favorited one child over the other.

Did you check out "Interstellar" over the weekend? Let us know what you thought about the movie.

Now watch: Bill Nye has one big problem with the science in "Interstellar"

SEE ALSO: The only way to see "Interstellar"

AND: Our review of "Interstellar"

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North Korea Won't Like It, But Seth Rogen's 'The Interview' Is Hilarious


james franco seth rogen the interview

Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's Kim Jong-un assassination comedy "The Interview" has been the subject of a lot of controversy. The film was originally scheduled to be released in October, but after North Korea declared the film an "act of war" and threatened a "resolute and merciless" response if the US government failed to stop the film's release, it was delayed until Christmas Day. 

While changing an American film based on the demands of a dictator may seem ridiculous, Sony agreed to make minor digital alterations, including covering up "thousands of buttons worn by characters in the film" since they "depict the actual hardware worn by the North Korean military to honor the country's leader."

the interview screen 2After viewing the relentlessly crass and silly finished product, I find it hard to take North Korea's assertions seriously. The film is clearly a comedy far more than it is a statement on foreign policy. While Rogen weaves in plenty of details that don't portray North Korea in very positive light, the movie never feels like an attack on the hermit kingdom.

The opening scene depicting a young Korean girl serenading a gathering of fellow Koreans with sing-songy insults to America sets the bar right away, and the film never takes itself too seriously.

the interview screen 1James Franco plays Dave Skylark, the host of "Skylark Tonight," a tabloid news program that falls more in line with TMZ than CNN. Aaron Rapaport (Rogen) is the show's producer, and after 1,000 episodes of asinine celebrity coverage, he wishes to be taken seriously. When Skylark finds out Kim Jong-un, the supreme leader of North Korea, is a fan of his program, he sets up an exclusive interview with the dictator in North Korea. When the CIA gets wind of this, they bring Skylark and Rapaport in and ask them to assassinate him.

As all good comedies should, 'The Interview" has heart, and the on-screen chemistry between Franco and Rogen keeps everything afloat. The script features plenty of Rogen's trademark witty, crass humor and, just like in "Pineapple Express," the off-the-cuff banter between the two leads never gets old. Lizzy Caplan is also great (but underused) as the CIA agent who "honeypots" the duo into the assassination. 

the interview screen 3"The Interview" is full of pop culture references, Hollywood in-jokes, and hysterically funny cameos. Besides the barrage of unexpected celebrities, one of the film's biggest laughs comes from Franco's rendition of a pop song that rivals his Britney Spears piano number from "Spring Breakers." While it's not as inherently self-referential as "This Is The End" since Rogen and Franco aren't playing themselves, there is similar humor at times, as Rogen shows that he isn't afraid to make fun of anyone.

The film is poised to be another surefire hit for Rogen, whose last two starring vehicles ("Neighbors,""This Is The End") were modestly budgeted at $18 million and $32 million respectively and each managed to gross over $100 million domestically. The reported budget for "The Interview" is around $30 million, so factoring in Rogen's track record, the film should have no trouble raking in some serious cash when it opens this Christmas. 

Watch the trailer below.  

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George Lucas Has Been Working On A Secret Animated Musical For Disney


strange magic

This was unexpected.

Disney just announced a new animated musical "Strange Magic" coming to theaters in January that's from "Star Wars" creator George Lucas.  

According to a press release from Disney, Lucas wrote the story and is executive producing. Gary Rydstrom ("Finding Nemo,""Toy Story Toons: Hawaiian Vacation") will direct.

"Strange Magic" will include the voice talents of Alan Cumming, Evan Rachel Wood, Kristin Chenoweth, May Rudolph, and Sam Palladio ("Nashville").

Here's the official synopsis from Disney:

“Strange Magic” is a madcap fairy tale musical inspired by “A Midsummer Night's Dream.” Popular songs from the past six decades help tell the tale of a colorful cast of goblins, elves, fairies and imps, and their hilarious misadventures sparked by the battle over a powerful potion.

Last week, online rumors thought "Strange Magic"may be a code name for a sequel to Disney's successful hit "Frozen."

The movie will be the first animated picture from Lucasfilm Ltd. since Disney's $4 billion purchase of the company in 2012

"Strange Magic" will be released January 23, 2015 by Touchstone Pictures.

SEE ALSO: The name for "Star Wars: Episode VII" has been revealed

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This Extremely Detailed Graphic Will Explain Everything You Need To Know About ‘Interstellar’


interstellar shotWarning: If you haven’t seen “Interstellar” yet, there are spoilers ahead.

If you were confused after seeing "Interstellar," you're not alone. 

Since the film's release, multiple graphics have hit the web which break down the movie pretty effectively. 

We've found this excellent timeline graphic circulating on Reddit from user sto-ifics42 to be the most helpful.

Not only does it put all of the film's events in chronological order so you can follow any one character's journey, but it also breaks down time for Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and his daughter Murphy (MacKenzie Foy/Jessica Chastain) side by side. According to the visual, while an entire lifetime passes for Murphy in "Interstellar," the majority of the film takes place in the span of one day in Cooper’s life. 

For those confused by the film's fifth dimension, The Tesseract, there's a mini-explainer on that, too. 

Take a look below. You can view the full version, here.

interstellar graphic

Now watch: Bill Nye had one big issue with the science in "Interstellar"

SEE ALSO: The only way to see "Interstellar"

AND: A huge actor has a surprise cameo in "Interstellar"

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Michael Douglas Has Been Using The Same Stunt Double For 26 Years


Michael Douglas finished filming Marvel's upcoming superhero movie "Ant-Man" over the weekend. 

To celebrate, the actor shared a few photos of himself with his long-time stunt double, Mike Runyard, from throughout their career together. According to Douglas, Runyard has been his stuntman for 26 years. 

In that time, the two have become close friends and even golfing partners.

Take a look at their similar side-by-side photos from throughout the years.

Here are Douglas and Runyard on the set of next summer's "Ant-Man."

michael douglas mike runyard ant man

Runyard and Douglas are face-to-face on set of Ridley Scott's 1989 movie, "Black Rain."

michael douglas stunt double

Finally, here are the two in 1997's "The Game."mike runyard michael douglas black rain

SEE ALSO: Marvel showed footage for "Ant-Man" and "The Avengers" sequel at New York Comic Con and fans loved it

AND: The most sought-after stunt doubles in Hollywood

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Jim Carrey Was Paid 140 Times More Than Jeff Daniels For Original ‘Dumb And Dumber’


Jim Carey Jeff Daniels Dumb and Dumber To

A sequel to the Farrelly Bros.'s 1994 hit "Dumb and Dumber" hits theaters this weekend. 

Jeff Daniels and Jim Carrey will reprise their roles as Harry and Lloyd 20 years later in "Dumb and Dumber To." While both are expected to be receiving hefty paychecks for the followup, the original movie was a different story.

For the first "Dumb" film, Daniels was only paid around $50,000 — far less than his co-star Carrey, who received a $7 million payday.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, writer-directors Bobby and Peter Farrelly revealed how the studio, New Line, initially didn't even want Daniels in the role.

"Jeff Daniels was not the obvious choice because he hadn’t done any, you know, out and out comedies before that," Bobby Farrelly told THR. "He was always comedic in his roles." 

The comedy duo loved him in 1986's action comedy "Something Wild," and they fought for him after seeing his chemistry during script readings with Carrey.

"The studio didn’t want him," Bobby added. "They said, 'Please, anyone but him. Get a comedic actor.'  So they offered him, if I recall, 50 grand, which was, you know, Jim’s getting seven mil, they offered him 50 figuring he’ll say, 'No, I’m not taking that,' but he took it."

Today, Daniels receives $150,000 per episode for HBO’s “The Newsroom,” now in its final season, according to TV Guide.

THR reports Carrey was originally offered $350,000 for the role, but after "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective" took off at the box office, that figure eventually snowballed into a $7 million payday. 

"Ace Ventura," released in Feb. 1994 made $12.1 million opening weekend and $107 million worldwide by the end of its theatrical run. 

"As I recall it went something like this, they offered him $350,000 to do the movie and he [Carrey] passed,"Peter Farrelly told THR. "He [Carrey] wanted like 400,000. And they held off. And then Ace Ventura came out, which was his first movie and it was number one. ... So then, you know, they said, 'Okay, we’ll give you the 400.' He said, 'No, I want 500.' And then they said, 'No, you’re not getting 500.'"

"Another week passed, Ace was number one again," he added. "And they said, 'We’ll give you five.' 'No, I want 750.' Long story short, it got up to seven million and that’s what he got paid. The whole budget was 16 million and Jim got seven, which was the most ever for any comedic actor."

dumb dumber scooter

It paid off as "Dumb and Dumber," released Dec. 1994 opened bigger than "Ace Ventura," scoring $16 million upon debut.

The movie held the number one spot at the box office for four weeks and went on to make over $257 million worldwide on an estimated $17 million budget.

"Dumb and Dumber To," out Friday, cost a reported $35 million to make according to Deadline. Early estimates from Boxoffice.com project the film to break even opening weekend.

The number may be a bit high considering Carrey's attempt big push to return to theaters in the past year didn't go over so well. Warner Bros.'s magician film, "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone," also starring Steve Carell bombed making $27.4 million.

The actor hasn't commanded a film with a $30 million opening since 2009 "A Christmas Carol." Carrey's recent hosting gig on "Saturday Night Live"boosted ratings for the comedy variety recently, but he came on a week after the show had its worst ratings ever.

A 2003 prequel to the series, "Dumb and Dumberer," which didn't involve the Farrelly brothers or Carrey and Daniels, made $39.3 million worldwide.

You can read the full Hollywood Reporter interview with the Farrelly brothers here.

SEE ALSO: 11 movie sequels that came out more than 10 years after the original

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Neil deGrasse Tyson Explains The End Of 'Interstellar'


Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson saw 'Interstellar' and then came by Business Insider to explain what the ending means – and if it's scientifically sound.

Produced by Will Wei. Additional camera by Devan Joseph.

StarTalk Radio is a podcast and radio program hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, where comic co-hosts, guest celebrities, and scientists discuss astronomy, physics, and everything else about life in the universe. Follow StarTalk Radio on Twitter, and watch StarTalk Radio "Behind the Scenes" on YouTube.

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Steve Carell And Channing Tatum Give Their Best Performances Yet In Thought-Provoking 'Foxcatcher'


foxcatcher carell tatum

"Foxcatcher" is only the third feature from director Bennett Miller, but considering his previous two films ("Capote" and "Moneyball") both garnered Oscar nominations, anticipation for his latest take on a true story has been sky high. Fans of the director can rest assured: "Foxcatcher" is a fascinating film made all the more absorbing through its rich, vivid characters and efficient storytelling. 

We are introduced to wrestler Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) a few years after his glory days winning Olympic gold along with his brother Dave (Mark Ruffalo). Dave is now happily married with children, but Mark mopes through life in the shadow of his more successful brother, giving half-hearted motivational speeches to rooms full of bored children. When eccentric millionaire John du Pont (Steve Carell) calls Mark out of the blue and offers to help train him for the 1988 Seoul Olympic games at his lavish estate, there's no reason for him not to accept.

"Foxcatcher" portrays the man in a way that sheds light on the factors that lead to the big, newsworthy event. By the time we meet Du Pont's disapproving mother (Vanessa Redgrave), we start to see the anguish that lead to Du Pont's mental state. His insistence on being referred to as the "golden eagle" and his absurd patriotic rants start to make sense after we learn of his sad upbringing. As his interactions with Mark grow increasingly troublesome, he becomes more and more sinister and threatening. 

Foxcatcher movieLess is more in the world of "Foxcatcher," and silence pervades. The film opens with what feels like fifteen minutes of virtually no words, and the score is used so sparingly that afterwards I questioned whether or it even had one.

This isn't a bad thing, and an early training scene featuring Mark and David wrestling one another encapsulates all we need to know about their relationship without any words in a matter of minutes. This is courtesy of the fantastically rich screenplay, Bennett Miller's impeccable direction, and the exceptional work from the cast.

Steve Carell is almost unrecognizable as Du Pont; a giant prosthetic nose, false teeth and pale skin give him an unsettling and imposing air. The film truly belongs to him and is essentially a detailed character study of an individual that is certainly ripe for analysis. Du Pont speaks in a dry, stilted bursts and while his looniness is often played for laughs, there's an inherent fear established due to the fact that the film presents a ripped-from-the-headlines story that audiences are likely familiar with.

"Foxcatcher" is billed as a true-crime drama, and although I personally wasn't aware of the events depicted, it's easy to see that Du Pont is unstable and something horrific is to come. 

Channing Tatum is great as Mark, the oblivious lunk caught in Du Pont's depraved world, and as the situation gets more complicated, his performance becomes more layered and meaningful. His relationship with Du Pont gets weirder as the film progresses but the audience is left in the dark to a certain extent; we only know what's essential, and nothing more. It's a quiet, nuanced performance and is easily the best of his career.

Ruffalo is equally good as his brother Dave, and they both really thrive when they're on screen together; the tension between them is palpable. Carell's performance is a game-changer for the comic actor and he proves that he can more than pull his weight when it comes to drama. While there are certainly comedic elements to the role, he somehow manages to make Du Pont equally terrifying as he is pathetically funny. 

These three lead performances help make "Foxcatcher" incredibly compelling. The film examines very basic questions of human psychology in a way that very few artists have pulled off. What we're left with is a gripping and thought-provoking work that is sure to stick with you. 

"Foxcatcher" opens nationwide on November 14th. 

SEE ALSO: "Birdman" is the best movie of the year

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Here's When The 'Fast & Furious' Franchise Might End


vin diesel fast furious 7"I don’t have friends," Vin Diesel explains in the explosive trailer for Furious 7. "I got family." And one member of that extended Fast & Furious family has to be director Justin Lin, who helped usher the series into its current golden age before moving on to greener pastures. But could Lin be lured back to the Furious table, possibly to bring closure to the high-octane series? 

This is the rumor being floated over at Deadline, where Mike Fleming reports that Universal might want Justin Lin to return to the Fast & Furious franchise in order to "wave the checkered flag" on the long-running series. Lin started directing Fast films back with the third chapter, Tokyo Drift. He endured the muddy, lackluster fourth installment, Fast & Furious before breathing hellfire into the series with Fast Fiveand Fast & Furious 6. But Justin Lin handed the reigns to The Conjuring filmmaker James Wan for Furious 7 -- a sequel that has been plagued by a serious of horrific obstacles, including the death of Paul Walker. 

The series appears to be back on track now, obviously, and Universal is gearing up for the April release of Furious 7. A while back, this movie was expected to be the start of a new trilogy of films, a storyline Vin Diesel and Paul Walker could milk for as long as their fans allowed. Now, however, we were all wondering if – in the wake of Walker’s passing -- Furious 7 would be the last go-round for this cast. Heck, Dom calls it "one last ride" at the 1:52 mark of this tremendous teaser trailer: 

But will it be? Given the amount of interest swirling around Furious 7 -- and the heat on the Fast & Furious series in general – we assume that James Wan’s movie is going to make boat loads of cash next year. We don’t yet know how the series will "retire" Paul Walker’s character, but it will be interesting to see if the door is left open for more Fast stories after Furious 7

If they do extend the brand, and decide to give the series one more movie, it makes total sense to bring Justin Lin back for the last film. And the pieces sort of moved into place. James Wan already has agreed to go back to horror, where he’ll direct The Conjuring 2. And while Lin has agreed to helm the first two episodes of the second season of HBO’s True Detective, he could shift to a final Fast & Furious after that. Right now, it’s a rumor. But it makes all the sense in the world. 

SEE ALSO: Check out the "Fast and Furious 7" trailer

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Analysts: A DreamWorks Animation Merger Makes No Sense For Hasbro


penguins madagascar

Hasbro is in talks to acquire DreamWorks Animation, according to reports from Deadline and The New York Times. 

As a result, DWA’s stock is soaring early Thursday. 

A merger with Hasbro would be great for the CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg and the studio — its movies have been on an up and down roller coaster at the box office — but it’s not clear how it would aid Hasbro, which has seen profits rise due to its Transformers toys and a lucrative deal with Disney that has resulted in popular Marvel and Star Wars lines. 

The company recently announced a film label named AllSpark Pictures (a nod to “Transformers”), but it already has a big lineup of film adaptations in the works for brands including “My Little Pony,” “Monopoly,” and “Candyland,” “Magic the Gathering,” and “Jem.” 

In a note, media analyst Vasily Karasyov of Sterne Agee writes three reasons rumors of a merger between the two companies makes little sense for Hasbro.  

1. DreamWorks Animation is “facing serious challenges”

mr peabody and sherman 

Three of DWA’s past five films — “Mr. Peabody & Sherman,” “Turbo,” and “Rise of the Guardians,” — have been flops. When “Rise of the Guardians” performed worse than expected in 2012, it led to layoffs at the studio. Recently, DWA took a $57 million write down on “Mr. Peabody & Sherman.” 

Earlier this year, CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg acknowledged the company's failing movies. In response, Katzenberg said the studio will start to rely on more sequels to its most successful franchises to help turn the studio around.  

While the studios’ latest sequel “How to Train Your Dragons 2” has made over $600 million worldwide, the film’s opening weekend disappointed investors as it performed worse than the debuts of DWA’s other sequels like “Shrek 2,” “Madagascar 2,” and “Madagascar 3.” 

Karasyov writes that the company’s films continue to disappoint. 

“We don’t see a plausible argument for why HAS would pay 41% of its current market capitalization for a company which, according to its CEO is facing serious challenges,” Karasyov writes. “Films profitability continues to decline and the ramp in consumer product revenue the bulls hoped for isn’t coming: the revenue stream is down 21% so far in 2014.” 

2. Consumer product revenue is coming from smaller DWA franchises 

Instead of customers latching on to products of some of DWA’s most beloved films including “Shrek,” “Kung Fu Panda,” “How to Train Your Dragon,” and more recent hit, “The Croods,” Karasyov writes the top three contributors for consumer product revenue in fiscal year 2013 were “Veggie Tales,” “Where’s Waldo,” and “Noddy.” 

The latter is a long-cancelled TV series which ran on PBS for two seasons ending in 2000. 

3. DreamWorks Animation’s next movie looks like a bust

penguins of madagascar

Karasyov writes that DWA’s latest film, “Penguins of Madagascar,” a spin-off of its popular “Madagascar” franchise out Nov. 26, doesn’t look like it will be a hit either. 

“Current industry estimates are well below the consensus US box office,” says Karasyov. “The Street is expecting $185 mln; industry estimate are at $135 mln.”

“The new release The Penguins of Madagscar, according to the company, [is] expected ‘to generate approximately $8 million in total revenue by the end of 2017,’” Karasyov adds. 

Analyst Eric Handler at KM Partners also wrote a report titled, “Multiple Reasons Why a DreamWorks Animation Acquisition Does Not Make Sense.” 

From the report via THR: 

“There is no doubt that Hasbro wants to turn a number of its franchise properties into feature films, but its risk profile would substantially change entering into the volatile movie production business with a company that has not generated positive FCF [free cash flow] in several years and has had trouble making profitable animated films," he writes. "In addition, a business transformation of this magnitude could have negative implications for Hasbro in its relationship with Disney." 

This isn’t the first time DreamWorks Animation has tried to find a buyer. Japanese company SoftBank was in talks to acquire the company in September, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Deadline also reports that, in a separate deal, DWA is in talks with Hearst to turn the company’s purchase of YouTube content producer AwesomenessTV into a joint venture. DreamWorks Animation purchased AwesomenessTV in May 2013. 

At this point, it looks like DreamWorks Animation just wants someone to swoop up the company. 

It appears that the management is actively looking for a buyer for the company so far (and we think ultimately) unsuccessfully,” writes Karasyov. “In the meantime, the upcoming slate [of films from DWA] leaves little hope for improved performance.” 

We have reached out to Hasbro for comment and will update if we hear back.

SEE ALSO: Why DreamWorks Animation keeps failing and how it plans to bounce back

AND: Hasbro is in talks to acquire DWA

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12 Movie Sequels That Took 10 Years Or More To Hit Theaters


Dumb and Dumber To

"Dumb and Dumber To" finally opens in theaters this weekend.

The sequel to the 1994 Farrelly brother's hit reunites original costars Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels on screen 20 after the initial hit.

"Dumb and Dumber" is one of the most recent films to receive the belated-sequel treatment. In the next few years, even more "Star Wars,"“Toy Story," and “Terminator” movies will be coming our way.

But just because Hollywood is bringing back a classic, doesn't mean it will be a hit the second (or third or fourth) time around.

We've rounded up 12 other movie sequels that have taken more than a decade to come to theaters, in order from least amount of time between films to most.

This post was originally written by Keertana Sastry with additional reporting by Frank Pallotta.

“The X Files: I Want to Believe” came out 10 years later in 2008.

A decade after the cult success of the first “X Files” movie, creator Chris Carter reteamed with Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny as Scully and Mulder for the sequel.

What should have been an exciting and tense adventure — the plot involved a priest that had visions of grisly crimes — became difficult to understand and ridiculously dull. The only thing it had going for it was the remaining chemistry between its main stars. The movie pulled in $68 million at the box office.

“Men in Black III” came out a decade after the second film in 2012.

It took J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones) 10 years to return to the secret alien fighting division after a lackluster sequel in 2002.

The third film in the series changed up the "MIB" fomula by introducing time travel and a great Tommy Lee Jones impression by Josh Brolin who played a younger version of Jones's character. Reviews were pretty positive and the film became one of the highest-grossing movies of 2012 with over $624 million worldwide.

We had to wait 11 years for “Toy Story 3” to come out in 2010.

"Toy Story 3" was released 11 years after the successful "Toy Story 2." Both Tom Hanks and Tim Allen reprised their roles of Woody and Buzz Lightyear along with the introduction of many new characters.

For fans and critics alike, the film became arguably the best in the series with it becoming one of the highest-animated films of all time and winning Best Animated Feature at the 2010 Academy Awards. Pixar is going to try their luck again with the franchise with "Toy Story 4" in 2017.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

The Iconic Mansion From 'The Godfather' Is On Sale For $2.9 Million


Don Corleone Godfather house_edited 1

The Staten Island mansion made famous by the Corleone family in "The Godfather" is on sale for $2.9 million.

The mansion was the location for several famous scenes in the 1972 film, like Connie Corleone's wedding and Don Corleone's memorable "You ask me to do murder" scene.

The house was originally built in 1930 for former Staten Island borough president Joseph Palma.
"Godfather" actor Gianni Russo from the film showed the house to producers because he grew up down the street.

The five-bedroom, four-bathroom house has been renovated with more modern furniture and brighter colors, and the backyard now sports a pool. There are custom moldings throughout the house, and the basement now boasts an English pub.

Despite a gut renovation of the property in 2012, the outside of the house still has the English Tudor style with a very green yard.


The backyard now has a pool.

The 6,248-square-foot home sits on grounds measuring 24,000 square feet.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

'Whiplash' Is So Good Audiences Are Giving It A Standing Ovation


whiplash jk simmons miles teller

From the very opening shot, as the camera tracks forward towards our young drummer, "Whiplash" thrusts the audience right into its world without any formal introductions. When an imposing figure enters the space and tests the young man's skill, his comments quickly become sarcastic and critical, and the young man is left to question whether he blew it or not. 

The young man is aspiring drummer Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller) and the imposing figure is Mr. Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), a notoriously harsh but well-respected, world-renowned music teacher at the (fictional) Shaffer Conservatory of Music. We soon learn that Fletcher's harsh dismissal featured in the opening scene was no fluke; it's all a part of his teaching style. As the film progresses, we get an in-depth look at the complicated relationship between the student and his teacher and learn what it takes to become the best at something.

"Whiplash" is a simple and familiar story elevated by two spectacular performances and the sheer energy and immediacy of the film's editing. The camerawork is lively and the way the film is cut to the beat of its own drum (quite literally) essentially screams at the audience that its not to be ignored. The tension between Fletcher and Andrew throughout is expertly handled; we aren't quite sure whether to praise Fletcher's approach or chastise him for it. 

By the end credits, you'll want to stand up and cheer, and the packed house I saw it with at Regal Union Square on a Sunday night did just that — almost everyone in the theater stuck around through the end credits to give the film a proper ovation. 

whiplash posterJ.K. Simmons has always been one of my favorite character actors, and it's amazing to see him finally step into such a commanding leading role. As soon as he steps into a scene, all eyes would be on him if they weren't glued to the floor in fear. His on-screen presence is the very definition of intense, yet there are still tons of laughs to be had via his unorthodox MO. I can only picture one or two scenes in the entire film where he's not screaming horrible insults at Andrew or one of his bandmates, but it's all for the greater good. Simmons is vicious, unapologetic, inspiring and effortlessly hilarious all at once in the role, and it has Oscar gold written all over it.

I've been a huge fan of Miles Teller ever since 2010's "Rabbit Hole" and he completely blew me away in last year's "The Spectacular Now.""Whiplash" gives Teller his best shot at stretching his proverbial muscles yet, and he delivers. His performance as Andrew is everything it needs to be as he toes the line between confidence and total insecurity. His artistic drive shows through, and when Andrew tells his soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend that he must leave her because he wants to be "one of the greats" and she will only slow him down, we believe him. While he certainly gets fed up with Fletcher's methods, it doesn't take him long to realize that Fletcher is only pushing him so hard because he wants him to succeed. It's a brave performance that is the best of his young career, proving that this is just the beginning for Teller.

Early on in the film, Fletcher tells the story of legendary jazz musician Charlie Parker and how Jo Jones once threw a cymbal at his head when he made a mistake, nearly decapitating him. Fletcher's entire demeanor seems to be a direct response to this legend, as he hurls furniture, violently curses and otherwise gets into his student's heads through borderline inappropriate means. 

jk simmons whiplashThe audience is left to ponder what makes somebody a master of their craft; is it inherent, or do barbaric techniques like those employed by Fletcher really make the man? While the question is up to the audience to answer, it's hard to walk away from the film feeling anything but inspired and ready to take on the world. 

The most impressive thing about "Whiplash" is that it takes a story that could have been boring (an exploration of the relationship between mentor and mentee) and makes it one of the most intense, compelling, and visceral experiences of the year. Simmons, Teller and director Damien Chazelle have crafted something special that has to be seen to be believed. 

"Whiplash" is now playing in theaters nationwide.

SEE ALSO: 'Birdman' Starring Michael Keaton Is The Best Movie Of The Year

MORE: Bill Murray Is The Only Redeeming Factor In His New Movie 'St. Vincent'

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'Batman V Superman' Will Reportedly Include This One Iconic Batman Scene


ben affleck batman vs superman bat symbolWarning: There are potential spoilers ahead about "Batman V Superman."

If there's one thing most people know about Batman, it's the Caped Crusader's origin story.

For those who may not be familiar, *mini-spoiler* a young Bruce Wayne's parents are murdered point blank in front of him in a dark alleyway after attending a screening of "The Mask of Zorro." *mini-spoiler*

Naturally, every time a new incarnation of the Caped Crusader comes to screen, whether on TV or in movies, there's always the opportunity to film this monumental scene over again. We've seen it revisited and reimagined so many times that when Fox's TV show "Gotham" premiered, Vulture put together a supercut of all the times we've watched Batman's origin story on screen.

Well, it looks like we'll be seeing the scene once again in "Batman V Superman." 

Comicbook.com noticed fan Dan Marcus has been posting photos and videos on Instagram from the film's Chicago set and it looks like we're in for a flashback to another young, teary-eyed Bruce Wayne.

Sorry Batfans, nothing is sacred.

Here are a few of the photos below. You can check a lot more photos from the set on Marcus's Instagram, here.

They are actually using "The Mark of Zorro"! #BatmanvSuperman #bvschicago

A photo posted by Dan Marcus (@danimalish) on Nov 11, 2014 at 12:08pm PST

Filming resumes tonight. #BatmanvSuperman #bvschicago

A photo posted by Dan Marcus (@danimalish) on Nov 11, 2014 at 2:48pm PST

The Wayne's. #batmanvsuperman #bvschicago

A photo posted by Dan Marcus (@danimalish) on Nov 11, 2014 at 7:50pm PST

One interesting takeaway is the use of "The Mask of Zorro." 

Comic fans will notice it's the same film that shows up in Frank Miller's classic graphic novel "The Dark Knight Returns," revolving around an older Bruce Wayne who comes out of retirement to don the cape and cowl once again.

the dark knight returns batman zorro

Director Zack Snyder has previously said he will not adapt the four-part graphic novel but he has reportedly met up with Miller previously to discuss "The Dark Knight Returns."

When the film was first announced at San Diego Comic-Con in 2013, Snyder said the graphic novel “will help tell that story.”

"Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice" will be released in theaters March 25, 2016.

SEE ALSO: The first "Batman V Superman" trailer is coming soon

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