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Joaquin Phoenix Pays Tribute To Heath Ledger Joker At SAG Awards

Sunday night saw Joaquin Phoenix take home the Best Actor award for Joker at the SAG Awards where he paid tribute to Heath Ledger. Following having paid tribute to his fellow actors nominated in the “Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role” category, Phoenix made mention of Ledger. “Really I’m standing here …

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Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Once Upon A Time In Hollywood’ Trailer Is Here

Sony Pictures releases the Once Upon A Time In Hollywood trailer from director Quentin Tarantino featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie. Here is the synopsis: Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood visits 1969 Los Angeles, where everything is changing, as TV star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his longtime stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad …

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2016 Oscars Results, Recap & Opinions


Holy Oscar Fallout 2016!

By Lawrence Napoli

(Editor’s note: the article was written live as the Oscars happened)


As the red carpet nonsense starts to simmer down, I’m thinking about a couple of things.  First, is it beyond a foregone conclusion that Leo takes home his first Oscar?  It does seem it would take an act of God to prevent this from occurring seeing how he has as much hype to win as any other “favored” star in the past.  Second, what is Chris Rock going to do or say: Is he going to play it safe – corporate and PC – or is he going to set the show on fire?  Third, what kind of surprises are we going to experience during the show (please let there be an appearance by Deadpool)?  I hope the show producers do more than simply speed things along, but find an entertaining twist without using musical interludes as a crutch.  Fourth, will there be more disdain for the rise of comic book/special effect driven adventure films, or will there be a deeper appreciation for the ones that really pull out all the stops?  Blockbusters deliver the magical spectacle to audiences as well as any other heavy handed drama.  I understand the argument for over-saturation, but purists should shut their mouths when it comes to scoffing at and mocking these films.  There’s nothing wrong with bringing more attention to smaller, indie productions that have bare bones budgets and make their films as much about “the art” as possible, but make no mistake, The Academy Awards is a show that is much more about money and politics in Hollywood and studios that own winners have big pay days to cash in on.  We’ll leave post show analysis to the end and hopefully we will be treated to a good one; on with the show.

[Side note: Holy crap!  It’s Louis Gossett Jr. prior to the show! He had a great message regarding diversity that was short, sweet and poignant and probably going to be ignored by the majority of people on the planet.]


Opening Monologue by Chris Rock: All race; all the time.  Major props go out to Chris for not shying away from the issue and going straight for the jugular and never letting it settle for the entire speech.  He had a great observation regarding the racism of Hollywood as “Sorority Racism.”  Sure we like you, but you’re not a Kappa.  This is perhaps the most accurate description of Hollywood racism (and let’s be honest, Corporate racism) and you’ll probably be hearing this repeated on social media, but probably not the mainstream.  He may have gone a bit far with that bit regarding the “In Memoriam” sequence of black people being shot on their way to the Oscars, though.  Let’s just say that Ellen would have about zero percent chance at addressing the elephant in the room, but Chris Rock was pretty calm and collected the whole time, and he kept at it and didn’t give it a chance to dissipate.  

Really Charlize, writers are the backbone of the industry?  Two words: my ass (also written by a writer).  If that were really true, they’d be getting paid much more and we’d be getting higher quality stories. 

Best Original Screenplay:  SpotlightTom McCarthy and Josh Singer are our first candidates to ignore the thank you scroll at the bottom of the screen who get played off stage cutting off their speeches. 


Best Adapted Screenplay: (Good awkward comedy between Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling) The Big ShortAdam McKay and Charles Randolph also get played off stage by the orchestra.  I predict that the Academy will attempt to damage control the lack of diversity among its nominees by putting corporate big money in as much bad light as possible.  This means that The Big Short will probably win best picture.

Oh My.  Chris Rock certainly has the racism angle playing strong with the “funny” media promos featuring black people that didn’t make the cut for The Martian, The Danish Girl and Joy with help from Whoopi Goldberg and Tracy Morgan.

Sarah Silverman making fun of James Bond.  One word: Yikes!

Sam Smith performing “The Writing’s on the Wal”l theme from Spectre was nice, but certainly not an example of his best vocal work live or recorded.  I felt he forced it a little bit as opposed to being smooth and legato.

Best Supporting Actress: Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl.  Seeing her performance in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. didn’t exactly pave the way for her victory here.  The effort she made in Ex Machina was certainly more telling.  Ultimately, it was a great performance in a period piece for a British actress that brought home the gold for this relative newcomer.  Well done Alicia.  2015 was an incredibly busy year for you.   

Best Costume Design:  Jenny Beavan for Mad Max: Fury Road.  WOW!  This was a legitimate surprise for me.  Usually this award goes directly to one of the annual period pieces, but to go to an action film was pretty bold. 

Best Production Design: Colin Gibson and Lisa Thompson for Mad Max: Fury Road.  


The Joker (Jared Leto) and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) present for best makeup.  Appropriate.

Best Makeup: Vanderwalt, Wardega and Martin for Mad Max: Fury Road.  They probably should have seated these folks a bit closer to the stage than the nosebleeds.

Best Cinematography:  Emmanuel Lubezki forThe Revenant.  There was never any doubt.  No film in 2015 did more with its framing than this.  The cinematography made the harsh environment of this film as imposing a character as any other in this story.

Best Film Editing:  Margaret Sixel for Mad Max: Fury Road.  The George Miller juggernaut continues to roll, and it’s only picking up steam.  Thank you again orchestra for another awkward play off.

[Black History Month Presentation thanking Jack Black for his contributions was a tactical jab at Will Smith for his personal boycott of the Oscars.  This being the second moment Chris Rock put the finger on the Smith household is more than likely going to start a Twitter war.  The Smith’s are likely to be righteously pissed come the morning.]


Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Captain America (Chris Evans) present Best Sound Editing: which goes to Mark Mangini and David White for Mad Max: Fury Road.  Ah, cursing blotted out by the satellite delay.  Well done sound editors!  More love for George Miller!

Best Sound Mixing:  Jenkins, Rudloff and Osmo for Mad Max: Fury Road.  Thanks to Australians!  I’m starting to get upset with the show’s director and orchestra for not giving the film production nerds a chance to say anything.

Best Visual Effects:  Whitehurst, Norris, Adington and Bennett for Ex Machina.  Hey, let’s give it up for a film not named Mad Max: Fury Road for winning something in a while.  I don’t mind the extra kick to the groin The Force Awakens gets for its continued snubbing for the tech categories.  Star Wars doesn’t need awards as cash is king in this business, and Episode 7 has plenty last I checked.


[C-3P0, R2-D2 and BB-8 make an appearance to give some love to John Williams.  Sorry guys, you still haven’t won anything tonight.]  

[Chris Rock fleecing his daughters to sell Girl Scout cookies continues the strange live interaction with the audience moment recent Oscar shows have adopted.] 

Best Animated Short:  Gabriel Osorio and Pato Escala forBear Story.  First Oscar for the country of Chile, well done folks!

Best Animated Feature Film:  Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera for Inside Out.  Once again, the winner for the Disney/Pixar category is another Disney/Pixar film.  Yawn.

[Kevin Hart bringing more attention to Chris Rock’s agenda and even more cursing blotted out by the satellite delay.]

Best Supporting Actor: Mark Rylance for Bridge of Spies.  Well, a Steven Spielberg film had to go home with something, even if it’s another period piece, even if it’s using another backdrop for war.  No disrespect for Mr. Rylance, but this was a disappointment for me as I felt that either Christian Bale or Mark Ruffalo had this one in the bag.  Oh well.   

Best Documentary Short Film:  Louis C.K. found a way to lighten up an otherwise dull presentation due to its heavy subject matter.  I agree that this award can genuinely change the lives for the winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy for A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness

Best Documentary Feature:  Asif Kapadia and James Gay-Rees for Amy.  Not a surprise here.  Amy was critically acclaimed at every turn and in every film festival it was presented in.  This was the equivalent of a Michael Moore documentary competing against the field.

A nice speech made by the president of the Academy regarding a more positive angle on the race issue in Hollywood, but despite the total combined political power in the entire auditorium, I feel this speech needs to be shared with the CEO’s and board of directors of every major studio and media conglomerate because they are the true gatekeepers.

In Memoriam was, once again, a classy remembrance of talented stars gone, but not forgotten.

Best Live Action Short Film:  Benjamin Cleary and Serena Armitage for Stutterer

Best Foreign Language Film:  Lazlo Nemes for Son of Saul

Best Original Score:  Ennio Morricone for The Hateful Eight.  There was lots of love from Quincy Jones and much love for Tarantino and Harvey Weinstein in Ennio’s speech.  Thank goodness they gave him time to have his short speech translated.

Best Original Song:  Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith for Spectre – The Writing’s on the Wall.  Well, if they gave one to Adele for doing a James Bond theme song they have to give one to Sam Smith for doing the same.  Was anyone surprised here?  Seriously, anyone?

Best Director:  Alejandro G. Iñárritu for The Revenant.  Why was J.J. presenting for this category when Alejandro won last year.  Oh yeah, because he can’t present it to himself and as soon as I saw J.J., I knew, it was Alejandro’s time once again.  Once again, an awful orchestral playoff to knock out his acceptance speech, but he stuck it through to finish strong despite the distraction.  Stop doing it!

Best Actress:  Brie Larson for Room.  Another actress who had political momentum leading into this evening as well as strong showings in festivals took home the gold.  She actually kept her acceptance speech very short and very sweet. 


Best Actor:  Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant.  Finally.  It’s been a long time coming for the king of the world.  Leo pulled out all the stops on this one because it was full of raw emotion despite the fact it wasn’t a very talky role.  Pretty excellent as far as acceptance speeches go and whether or not you agree with his politics, you cannot argue with Leo’s sincerity. 

Best Picture:  Spotlight.  Wow.  Holy cow!  No pun intended.  In an evening of politics, the filmmakers here call out Pope Francis. It appears as though the Left has heard the Right in the news these past few months and a ton of crazy rhetoric has not gone un-countered.  Hollywood drew its line in the sand regarding race, the environment, the church and the corporate conglomerate.  I’m not so surprised that this film won more than the fact it won with very little build up individually prior to this evening.  With Mad Max taking so many artistic and tech categories, it could have taken the grand prize.  Leo and Alejandro’s wins for two major categories could have done the same.  Everyone (other than the rich) hated Wall Street for the housing market disaster so there was a lot of talk for The Big Short.  Still, congratulations to the victors, and we will soon see the various responses to what has occurred this evening.

In Conclusion:  Another Academy Award show has come and gone and there was a solid mix of expected outcomes as well as surprises.  Chris Rock took early command of the show and kept hammering at the race angle all evening long.  Mad Max: Fury Road was more than a dark horse as the sheer number of categories it won had to have made it the second or third most important film of 2015.  Leo can finally return to his magical mountain of mystical fairy virgins with his golden trophy.  How about that big old goose egg for Star Wars?  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Straight Outta Compton was woefully snubbed because it featured some damn fine acting by a cast of relative newcomers, and it was a very entertaining film overall. 

I will say this in regards to diversity in Hollywood.  Chris Rock made it very clear that more diversity means more roles, opportunities and recognition for black actors.  Well, it really means more than that because the Oscars aren’t the BET awards that he invited everyone in the audience to attend next year.  Yes, Hollywood IS “Sorority Racist,” but it needs equally strong recognition for Asians, Hispanics and far more cultures and ethnicities, too.  As I said earlier in this overview, the studio heads need to lead on this issue.  Unfortunately, IF the rumor is true regarding Hollywood coveting the Chinese market over all others, and IF the rumor is true that Chinese audiences don’t want to see black people in films they see, then no amount of socially responsible discussions and debates is going to amount to a hill of beans because white, yellow or black are colors that are irrelevant when compared to the color of green.

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List Of 2016 Oscars Awards Winners


Below you can check out the complete list of 2016 Oscars Awards winners which includes Spotlight winning Best Picture, Leonardo DiCaprio winning Best Actor, Brie Larson for Best Actress and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for Best Picture.

Following the Oscar winners, check out some images from tonight’s show.



The Big Short

Bridge of Spies


Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant


Spotlight  - WINNER



Bryan Cranston, Trumbo

Matt Damon, The Martian

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant - WINNER

Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs

Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl



Cate Blanchett, Carol

Brie Larson, Room - WINNER

Jennifer Lawrence, Joy

Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years

Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn



Christian Bale, The Big Short

Tom Hardy, The Revenant

Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight

Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies  - WINNER

Sylvester Stallone, Creed



Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight

Rooney Mara, Carol

Rachel McAdams, Spotlight

Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl  - WINNER

Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs




Boy and the World

Inside Out

Shaun the Sheep Movie

When Marnie Was There




The Hateful Eight

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant  - WINNER


Mad Max: Fury Road - Oscars 2016




The Danish Girl

Mad Max: Fury Road  - WINNER

The Revenant



The Big Short

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant  - WINNER






Cartel Land

The Look of Silence

What Happened, Miss Simone?

Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom



Body Team 12

Chau, beyond the Lines

Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah

A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness  - WINNER

Last Day of Freedom



The Big Short

Mad Max: Fury Road  - WINNER

The Revenant


Star Wars: The Force Awakens



Embrace of the Serpent


Son of Saul  - WINNER


A War



Mad Max: Fury Road  - WINNER

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out

the Window and Disappeared

The Revenant



Bridge of Spies


The Hateful Eight  - WINNER


Star Wars: The Force Awakens



“Earned It,” Fifty Shades of Grey

“Manta Ray,” Racing Extinction

“Simple Song #3,” Youth

“Til It Happens To You,” The Hunting Ground

“Writing’s On The Wall,” Spectre  - WINNER



Bridge of Spies

The Danish Girl

Mad Max: Fury Road  - WINNER

The Martian

The Revenant



Bear Story


Sanjay’s Super Team

We Can’t Live without Cosmos

World of Tomorrow



Ave Maria

Day One

Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut)


Stutterer  - WINNER



Mad Max: Fury Road  - WINNER

The Martian

The Revenant


Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Oscars 2016


Bridge of Spies

Mad Max: Fury Road  - WINNER

The Martian

The Revenant

Star Wars: The Force Awakens



Ex Machina  - WINNER

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Star Wars: The Force Awakens



The Big Short - WINNER



The Martian




Bridge of Spies

Ex Machina

Inside Out

Spotlight - WINNER

Straight Outta Compton


Oscars pics

Posted by CosmicBookNews on Sunday, February 28, 2016

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Leonardo DiCaprio Talks Turning Down Star Wars, Spider-Man & Robin


In a recent interview with ShortList, Leonardo DiCaprio talked about the roles he turned down, which includes mention of the Star Wars prequels, Spider-Man and Robin.

Regarding playing Robin, which was for Batman Forever, DiCaprio said:

I never screen-tested. I had a meeting with Joel Schumacher. It was just one meeting and, no, I didn’t end up doing it.

Er, I don’t think I did, no (laughs). As I recall I took the meeting, but didn’t want to play the role. Joel Schumacher is a very talented director but I don’t think I was ready for anything like that.

On the Star Wars prequels, of which George Lucas wanted DiCaprio to play Anakin Skywalker:

I did have a meeting with George Lucas about that as well, yes.

Again, just didn’t feel ready to take that dive. At that point.

Leonardo DiCaprio was also up to play Spider-Man for Sam Raimi prior to Tobey Maguire getting the role.

Er, that was another one of those situations, similar to Robin, where I didn’t feel ready to put on that suit yet. They got in touch with me.

No worries if you want to see Leonardo DiCaprio on the big screen in a superhero film as the actor doesn’t rule it out (Warner Bros. wanted DiCaprio to play the Riddler in The Dark Knight).

You never know. You never know. They’re getting better and better as far as complex characters in these movies. I haven’t yet. But no, I don’t rule out anything.

Leonardo DiCaprio’s latest movie, The Revenant, gets released Janaury 8 , 2016.

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Watch: The Revenant Trailer

Watch the trailer for The Revenant which stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy and Domhnall Gleason.

The Revenant has a December 25, 2016 release directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman).


When all is lost, you fight.

Inspired by true events, THE REVENANT is an immersive and visceral cinematic experience capturing one man’s epic adventure of survival and the extraordinary power of the human spirit. In an expedition of the uncharted American wilderness, legendary explorer Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) is brutally attacked by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team. In a quest to survive, Glass endures unimaginable grief as well as the betrayal of his confidant John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy). Guided by sheer will and the love of his family, Glass must navigate a vicious winter in a relentless pursuit to live and find redemption. THE REVENANT is directed and co-written by renowned filmmaker, Academy Award® winner Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman, Babel).

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6 Younger Actors To Consider As Lex Luthor In Batman Vs. Superman


The few names that have been rumored for Lex Luthor in Batman Vs. Superman are all above the age of 50.

With online speculation running rampant that Lex Luthor will be wearing Zod’s armor to take on Batman and Superman in the movie, wouldn’t it make more sense to have a younger actor in the role to look the more the physical part?

Byran Cranston – age 57

Mark Strong –  age 50

Tom Hanks – age 57

Terry O’Quinn – age 61

Cosmic Book News has put together a list of younger actors who might fit.


[[wysiwyg_imageupload:12288:]]1. Jake Gyllenhaal (age 32) – Let’s go back to the Warner Bros. pool of superheroes as they did for Lois Lane and Superman. Both Amy Adams and Henry Cavill were up for Lois and Superman previous to Man of Steel, respectively. While Kevin Spacey was the only Lex Luthor actor for Superman Returns, how about another Batman actor? Jake Gyllenhaal could fit the bill and has already sported the bald look.




2. Armie Hammer (age 27) – Hammer is currently teaming with Henry Cavill in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and was up for Batman as well in the 2008 defunct Justice League movie. Shave his head and now he’s a bad guy! Hammer stands 6’5″ and would make for a formidable Lex Luthor vs. Superman. Plus Armie Hammer has played the rich bad guy role in The Social Network.




3. Joaquin Phoenix (age 39) – Played the bad guy in Gladiator; played Johnny Cash; the guy can do it all. Plus he has that mad power hungry look to fit Luthor. And the guy is just cool as hell.





4. Leonardo DiCaprio (age 39) – Back to the WB talent pool again as reportedly DiCaprio was wanted by the WB execs as the Riddler for Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy. DiCaprio would be a huge name for the movie. And hey, maybe Luthor doesn’t have to be bald.






5. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (age 32) – JGL’s name has been associated with every role under the sun in Hollywood, so why not Lex Luthor? The guy is a heck of an actor and has sported the bald look as well. Maybe he’s been turning down all the superhero roles to play the part of a bad guy.



6. Matt Damon (age 43) – Probably the most obvious choice to play Lex Luthor seeing his relationship with Ben Affleck. The two go hand in hand like peanut butter and jelly. Damon and Affleck are best friends and distant cousins. Damon also landed a small role in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar which can’t be a coincidence. Could it be that Damon has already landed the role of Lex Luthor and everybody’s being fed a bunch of follow-the-yellow-brick-road?!



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With Bale Out: Will Leonardo DiCaprio Come On Board Batman/Superman as The Riddler?


With Justin Timberlake recently stating that he would be interested in playing the Riddler in the Man of Steel sequel, that made me recall an earlier actor Warner Bros. wanted for the role in The Dark Knight Trilogy.

In a previous issue of Empire Magazine, David Goyer let it be known that Warner Bros. wanted Leonardo DiCaprio for the Riddler.

“Obviously it’s gonna be The Riddler, and we want it to be Leonardo DiCaprio,” WB told Goyer.

This is said have taken place around the time that DiCaprio was in talks with Nolan for Inception, but obviously Nolan went with Bane in The Dark Knight Rises (which happened to feature Inception actors Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Michael Caine and Cillian Murphy).

Following that, news of an un-authorized Christian Bale biography by a former publicist stated that Bale wasn’t such a fan of DiCaprio’s leading to speculation that was the reason for no Riddler or Leonardo in The Dark Knight Rises.

Now with Christian Bale out of the picture, and assuming there was some bad blood between the two, this now paves way for Leonardo DiCaprio in the sequel to Man of Steel.

Obviously this is all speculation, and with Batman/Superman seemingly based on Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, it’s thought that in addition to Lex Luthor the movie will feature The Joker as a second villain.

However, there is the fact of Heath Ledger’s stunning performance as The Joker in The Dark Knight which WB may not want to go near. Yet.

Riddler could definitely work.

Cavill. Affleck. Cranston. DiCaprio.

There’s a billing block for you.

The sequel to “Man of Steel” goes into production next year for a July 17, 2015 release also starring Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne and Diane Lane.

For more news on the “Man of Steel” and related movies head on over to the Cosmic Book News Superman movie hub.

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Matthew Vaughn’s Secret Service Gets Samuel L. Jackson As Villain


Matthew Vaughn’s Secret Service, the comic book movie adaptation of the Mark Millar and David Gibbons graphic novel, has cast Samuel L. Jackson as the main villain.

Variety reports that Samuel L. Jackson joins Colin Firth and Taron Egerton for the spy movie that sees Firth take Egerton’s character under his wing.

The  comic book sees a young man who grew up in a rough section in London get recruited by his Uncle into a British spy school that churns out suave, sophisticated gentlemen-agent types in the 007 mold. Together they get involved in a conspiracy that surrounds celebrity murders, with the comic book featuring real life characters Mark Hamill and Ridley Scott.

Leonardo DiCaprio’s name has also been attached to Secret Service, with Michael Caine rumored as well.

Secret Service has a November 14, 2014 release.

Samuel L. Jackson also stars in the upcoming Robocop reboot and Captain America 2.

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Star Wars: Episode VII Ryan Gosling Rumor Said To Be Not True


Recently it came out that Ryan Gosling was being eyed for a starring role in Star Wars: Episode VII with the actor rumored for the son of Luke Skywalker.

However, it’s said to be not true as Ryan Gosling’s reps came out and shot it down.

“This is not true,” Gosling’s reps responded to the Huffinton Post in an e-mail about the Star Wars: Episode VII rumor.

HP also reports that the same rumor included mention that Zac Effron is a possibility for Star Wars: Episode VII as well, and even that Leonardo DiCaprio is up for a Robotech movie.

More than likely those rumors are off as well.

Another Star Wars: Episode VII rumor that turned out to be not true was mention that J.J. Abrams was bailing on the movie, which isn’t the case.

Regarding Ryan Gosling, he happens to be a fan favorite to play the new Batman for Warner Bros. as he is topping everyone’s list; if anything, all this attention shows the actor happens to be in hot demand.

Star Wars Episode VII has a 2015 release date directed by J.J. Abrams.

Head on over to the Cosmic Book News Star Wars hub for more news.

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Movie Review: The Great Gatsby (2013)

Neither Good, nor Great, but OK

A Film Review of The Great Gatsby

By: Lawrence Napoli


One of the “Great American Novels” gets yet another adaptation for the silver screen thanks mostly to the efforts of director Baz Buhrmann in his 2013 vision of The Great Gatsby.  Seeing the teaser trailers for this project back in 2012 certainly had me brewing with anticipation because it looked big, bold and was riddled with star power.  After having seen the final cut, I am once again reminded of the trailer’s ability to make any film look 100% better than what it actually may be.  This film is yet another shameless Hollywood adaptation/reboot due to zero motivation to deliver something original, but makes sense revisiting at this point in American history thanks to the story’s commentary in regards to class, greed, decadence and the human behavior that results from all of the above.  Unfortunately, this film doesn’t quite deliver the same kind of impact from the original novel nor does it deliver the intimacy that defined the 1974 version starring Robert Redford.  2013’s Gatsby had a lot of things going for it, but there were too many things getting in the way of simply telling a good story that ultimately let this film down.


Things look pretty good from my self-made ivory tower.

The first hindrance for this film was the choice to have the story narrated via a strict regimen of flashbacks by an embittered Nick Carroway.  The world of Gatsby’s decadence is a world that begs to be immersed within, but the film forces the audience’s perspective away from that time period to the present date in the 1930s.  Apparently it was necessary to remind the audience that Nick’s retelling of Gatsby’s story was therapeutic.  This happens far too often during the film which challenges the viewer to invest emotionally in one era or the other. 

This criticism alone would not be so problematic had it not been accompanied by an even greater distracting element to the story: the incessant voice-overs by Nick Carroway that frequently interrupt and abbreviate dialogue scenes and dramatic moments.  Oh yes readers, the voice of Tobey Maguire as Nick Carroway is a constant presence and although this story is meant to be told from his perspective, his character is perhaps the least important.  Nick is the everyman who is put into privileged situations who merely observes the wealthy and powerful at play.  The fact that his image and voice are featured in virtually every scene prevents any other character to take on a life of their own.  The narration is so overbearing that it feels like every plot point is cherry picked for the audience, leaving nothing to independent interpretation. 


Don’t mind me.  It doesn’t really matter that I’m here.

The third jarring element to this film that I didn’t find nearly as egregious as the previous two was the use of anachronous music selections to fill the background noise of Gatsby’s world with a little more flavor.  I could understand if the choice for using contemporary pop tracks was made to subliminally connect the kinds of things that happened during the 1920s to today, but all I have to do for that is to turn on the news, go to school, go to work or basically wake up in the morning to see rich people taking advantage of poor people.  It has happened at just about every era of humanity in history, but let’s not split hairs here.  The fact that Jay-Z was the executive producer for this film has everything to do with his and Beyonce’s songs (amongst others) being used throughout.  This choice was made less for artistic integrity and more for increasing appeal to the masses because period pieces are not the kind of blockbusters American audiences are interested in turning out in droves for.  Using music that was out-of-time in fictions such as BioShock Infinite or Luhrmann’s own Moulin Rouge worked much better because the nature of those stories were more psychological and fantastic.  This Great Gatsby is a film that barely attempts to approach that level of surrealism. 


99 problems and a self-absorbed producer is one.

As the director and one of the screenwriters for this film, Baz Buhrmann bears the responsibility for these criticisms.  For someone who has made a career of blowing up conventional filmmaking, I find it surprising he would choose to interpret The Great Gatsby in a manner that forcibly connects all the dots for the audience.  I felt that his visual aesthetics were mostly on mark in terms of framing, camera movement and the use of special effects.  I felt that his best work is experienced during montage sequences that revolve around the consumption of massive amounts of alcohol.  Unfortunately, it appears as though his strength does not lie in conveying what most would refer to as “the standard drama.” 


Drunken fun.

The visual style of The Great Gatsby features lots of cool, period costumes and settings, but these are combined with certain visual effects that allows the audience to get a much wider view of the tri-state area during the Roaring 20’s.  There are several moments that feature aerial views from miles away that zoom up to or away from the key action or dialogue that is being featured in the scene.  This is a particularly neat effect that my lovely girlfriend observed as a reflection of Gatsby as a character: always wanting to be right there with the important activity, but always feeling like an outsider (a.k.a. so close, yet so far).  This leads to the audience’s exposure to a healthy amount of close-ups and wide-shots which doesn’t necessarily hurt the story, but it takes some getting used to. 

I didn’t care very much for any of the performances in this rendition of The Great Gatsby.  Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan gives the audience a healthy dose of lustful gazes and teasing smiles, but I would have preferred her to share these moments with some of her co-stars so as to develop some onscreen chemistry, of which there is none.  I suppose she cannot be blamed entirely as the script does limit her opportunities, but she could certainly control the projection of her own character.  I found it interesting how she went for more sympathy by portraying Daisy as a victim of circumstance rather than a willing perpetrator of decadent living.  Her rendition of Daisy is not nearly as dainty and superfluous as is depicted in the novel, but doing so works against the sentiment of vilifying the super rich for what they do to Gatsby as stated by several of Nick’s narrations.  Mulligan’s performance felt too neutral for me.


More of this, please.

Tobey Maguire’s Nick Carroway is supposed to be the audience’s gateway into this cinematic world, but when his character isn’t busy telling the audience what to think; his “in world” character only emits a gradient of bewilderment as his constant emotional state for most of the film.  I understand that his character (as most normal people) would be perplexed by the super rich lifestyle and the kinds of behavior that is considered “acceptable” amongst their ranks.  Tobey gives the audience too much of the deer in the headlights look, but it is his failure to shift status to a more assertive character via improved demeanor and line delivery that fails to sell his character as truly having enough of the decadent BS.  Maguire’s wounded puppy routine works fine up to the point where he starts sounding off in disgust during the film’s third act.  His character simply has no presence in any scene and perhaps this was a conscious choice between the director and actor, but it also does little to generate an emotional connection with an audience meant to appreciate his perspective above all others for this story.


I’m the true main character (if you didn’t realize by now).

Leonardo DiCaprio’s Gatsby is a character that is seldom depicted as a leader of men with a clear sense of purpose and a demonstrative presence.  His character’s introduction is veiled in this kind of false confidence only to be revealed as being manically uncertain, naive, and uneasy.  I can appreciate DiCaprio’s choice to portray this character in this manner due to the truth of his origin, but these moments out-number and out-class the scenes where Gatsby is meant to generate sympathy via the charismatic honesty he is meant to share with Nick and Daisy.  These genuine moments simply pale in comparison to moments when it seems he’s about to have an aneurism when he fails to impress Daisy or sweats bullets when he’s clearly not in control of a situation.  The unconfident Gatsby comes off as too over-the-top while the sincere Gatsby struggles to dig out from underneath Carroway’s narration and limited screen time.   


I may have hemorrhoids.

My favorite performance was that of Joel Edgerton as Tom Buchanan whose role as the de facto antagonist doesn’t exactly have the same internal conflicts as any other character, but the straight-forward manner in which he plays it is refreshing amidst an ocean of generally weak characters.  Tom represents “old money” in every respect which reflects the pinnacle of self assurance (whether it’s justified or not).  He’s actually charismatic when he’s not being a bigoted misogynist who best represents the concept of “men as pigs.”  Yet, the fact that his performance never succumbs to rage or looses full control suggests that he genuinely believes in his position, regardless of how far from reality it may actually be.  I can respect that kind of confidence in a character (even in a villain) and the escalation of Tom’s bourgeois methodology gives the audience some consistency they can count on.


Where the elite meet to eat.

The Great Gatsby isn’t a terrible film because it still showcases some serious production value as well as some interesting social commentary for anyone attuned to context.  Unfortunately, this is not a film I would recommend people to catch in theatres ASAP.  Film, as an art form, is meant to communicate through showing and not telling.  2013’s Gatsby is a film that can’t stop telling you everything and it gets very annoying, very quickly.  The audience needs to see full conversations between characters, not the Cliff’s Notes version.  The audience wants characters to prove what they are on screen through action, not exposition.  I’m not even sure if the spoon-fed drama is worse than the immense spectacle the trailers seemed to guarantee, yet the final film didn’t exactly deliver.  The hype and expectations for The Great Gatsby were certainly through the roof, but it simply falls way short.  Hopefully, the rest of the summer will prove to be more prosperous.

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Great Gatsby Beats Iron Man 3 In Box Office Showdown


Now this is rather interesting as the box office numbers for Wednesday were released which reveals that The Great Gatsby came in as the #1 movie in America, beating out Iron Man 3.

And the Leonard DiCaprio-starring film appeared in less movie theaters.

The Great Gatsby raked in $3.9 million from 3,535 theaters vs. Iron Man 3′s $3.85 million from 4,253 theaters (via Deadline).

Bear in mind this is for one day only and Iron Man 3 came out a week prior to The Great Gatsby.

Iron Man 3 also took over $70 million in its second week versus around $55 million for Gatsby‘s opener.

Iron Man 3 is still on its way to a billion which it will achieve before the start of the weekend.

For comparison, The Avengers scored $6.3 million in its second Wednesday opener.

The fanboys may note (I’m one of them) that Iron Man 3 has less of re-watch value than something like The Avengers, with most complaining about the poor quality of the script as well as the “twist.”

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Iron Man 3 Takes #1 Box Office Spot With $72 Million


Iron Man 3 continues to dominate the box office as its second weekend has brought in an additional $72. 1 million domestically.

However, this weekend’s box office didn’t go without any competition as Warner Bros.’ The Great Gatsby debuted strong with female movie goers netting $51 million for the Leonardo DiCaprio-starring film.

Iron Man 3 is just short of a billion as it’s worldwide gross now stands at about $950 million.

If we compare numbers to Marvel Studios’ previous film, we do see Iron Man 3 is trailing behind The Avengers.

The Avengers had a $200 million opening with Iron Man 3 coming in at $174 million.

The second weekend for The Avengers brought in $103 million, while Iron Man 3 nabbed $72.1 million.

The Avengers third weekend saw $55 million.

Comparing to The Dark Knight Rises: $160.8 million for week #1; $62.1 million for #2, and $35.7 million for its third week.

Most likely Iron Man 3 will hit a billion by next weekend.

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The State of Hollywood: 10 Best American Born Actors

The State of Hollywood 5 (b):

10 Best American Born Actors as of 2012

By: Lawrence Napoli 



It was a bit more difficult sorting through the men (Editor’s Note: compared to the women) to come up with a 10 “best,” “current,” and “American born,” Hollywood actor list. Quite frankly, there are more opportunities for men in this business because those who control the means of production (writers, directors, producers) still happen to be men [who are also mostly white].  I’d like to forewarn the reader if he or she happens to be sensitive about their leading men because there will be noticeable absences on this list for the simple fact that obvious additions 10 years ago have somewhat dropped out of the game due to age, a loss of interest or (fill in the blank).  NOT appearing on this list are notables: Hanks, Spacey, Travolta, Pacino, De Niro, Agents K and J, Malkovich and “JACK” Nicholson.  Oh, did I touch a nerve there?  I believe you all know where to send your complaints.

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:2785:]]10) Jeff Bridges

Born: Los Angeles, California in 1949

Last major feature: True Grit and Tron: Legacy (2010)

Notable awards: 2010 SAG, Golden Globe and Academy Award for best actor in Crazy Heart

Highlights: Iron Man, K-Pax, The Contender, The Big Lebowski, The Fisher King, Tron, Last Picture Show

On a quick side note: if I could nominate the entire cast of The Big Lebowski I would (minus Tara Reid), but alas not everyone in that cast has had an opportunity to truly lead productions (though many have and I’m glad Buscemi is doing well in Boardwalk Empire).  That being said, “The Dude” is every bit as awesome as the nickname that made us forget he’s just another Jeffrey Lebowski.  Toss in the fact he didn’t speak a single discernible word for the entirety of True Grit and still got an Oscar nomination for it shows us that even the Academy can appreciate Jeff’s eccentricity.  The man’s a true Hollywood star and although he had no major releases last year, he’s slated for two in 2013: R.I.P.D. and The Seventh Son.

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:2786:]]9) Brad Pitt

Born: Shawnee, Oklahoma in 1963

Last major feature: Moneyball (2011)

Notable awards: 2012 NSFC best actor in The Tree of Life and Moneyball and 1996 Golden Globe for best supporting actor in Twelve Monkeys

Highlights: Inglourious Basterds, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Snatch, Fight Club, Se7en, Legends of the Fall

Often maligned for his “pretty boy” status, Pitt continues to show more seasoning as an actor these days as well as some smarter choices for the roles he signs up for.  You kind of have to have more patience and discipline as an individual if you are the father of a family of 20.  Say what you will about his acting ability, but his performances make the films he’s been involved with MUCH more interesting.  Unlike Tom Cruise, Pitt still has a real opportunity to win an Academy Award as an actor because he can sell more than just action flicks.  Until then, he’ll just have to remain envious of his wife’s Oscar.

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:2787:]]8) Lenardo DiCaprio

Born: Los Angeles, California in 1974

Last major feature: J. Edgar (2011)

Notable awards: 2005 Golden Globe for best actor in The Aviator

Highlights: Inception, Shutter Island, The Departed, Catch Me If You Can, Titanic, Romeo + Juliet

Ah Leo, another pretty boy makes the list, but this one happens to be one I formerly had a serious beef with concerning his status as the male version of Helen of Troy to all young women as a result of his work in Titanic.  Had I been getting as lucky with the ladies as Leo had in general during the late 90s, perhaps I’d feel differently.  However, his filmography speaks for itself as his recent work has definitely made me more of a believer.  As Brad Pitt has shown a deeper commitment to character, so too has DiCaprio as he matures as a professional.  Leo has a few years on Pitt to grab that Oscar, but it’s a toss-up as to which one of them actually lands it first.  His upcoming work for The Great Gatsby should be compelling enough for yet another nomination once it releases.

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:2788:]]7) Matt Damon

Born: Boston, Massachusetts in 1970

Last major feature: We Bought a Zoo (2011)

Notable awards: 1998 Golden Globe and Academy Award for best screenplay for Good Will Hunting

Highlights: The Adjustment Bureau, True Grit, Invictus, The Bourne Trilogy, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Rounders

Yes, the best he’s managed so far for notable acting recognition is a number of nominations.  The argument could easily be made that Good Will Hunting was such a phenomenal fluke that validated Damon and Affleck’s existence on the Hollywood scene that it should come to no one’s surprise that he hasn’t become the alpha actor he should be.  To that I say Damon still makes this list even if GWH never existed.  Sure, he’d drop a few spots, but his work on the Bourne franchise is quite balanced between the action and drama.  The chemistry he had with Emily Blunt on The Adjustment Bureau was inspiring.  But it was the command he demonstrated throughout Rounders that proved he not only belonged in Hollywood, he could headline it.

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:2789:]]6) Denzel Washington

Born: Mount Vernon, New York in 1954

Last major feature: Safe House (2012)

Notable awards: 2002 Academy Award for best actor in Training Day, 1990 Golden Globe and Academy Award for best supporting actor in Glory, 2000 Golden Globe for best actor in The Hurricane

Highlights: The Book of Eli, American Gangster, Déjà Vu, Man on Fire, Training Day, Philadelphia, Malcolm X, Glory

Easily the most decorated actor on this list; Denzel has accomplished just about everything a professional actor can aspire to in Hollywood land.  Everything about this man’s acting ability can be summarized in one word: intensity!  The real question is whether age is starting to catch up to him seeing how his last outing with Ryan Reynolds didn’t exactly fire up the critics in a positive way.  I can’t blame an alpha actor like Denzel for doing a paycheck film, but it does hurt his “current” and “relevant” status somewhat; thus his placement at #6. 

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:2790:]]5) Philip Seymour Hoffman

Born: Fairport, New York in 1967

Last major feature: The Ides of March (2011)

Notable awards: 2006 SAG, Golden Globe and Academy Award for best actor in Capote

Highlights: Doubt, Capote, Cold Mountain, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Magnolia, The Big Lebowski

No, Mr. Hoffman does not make this list because of some “un-pretty” quota.  He’s a damn fine actor whose work extends well into the indie scene while still getting much deserved respect (and bank) from Hollywood.  Few actors can be so effective in both comedic and serious roles but Philip has this in spades.  His films tend to be a bit more cerebral in nature so his exposure to the average movie-goer may be limited.  Yet, this man is a living, breathing example that performance can transcend looks (and that’s a BIG accomplishment amidst all the plastic of La La Land).  He adds instant credibility to any cast and any production, but the smart choice is always to have him slide into a featured role because he can make the whole thing Oscar worthy.

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:2791:]]4) Edward Norton

Born: Baltimore, Maryland in 1967

Last major feature: The Bourne Legacy (2012)

Notable awards: 1997 Golden Globe for best supporting actor in Primal Fear

Highlights: The Incredible Hulk, The Illusionist, Death To Smoochy, The Score, Fight Club, American History X, Rounders

Is he a diva incapable of playing well with other marquee actors?  Is his agent a money grubbing troll?  Who knows the real “truth” behind the fact he was not a part of the epic cast of The Avengers because it certainly was NOT the result of poor acting.  He certainly made me forget that Eric Bana practically murdered Marvel’s big green machine in tandem with Ang Lee.  Norton is as skilled as actors come.  He was plain evil in American History X, yet plain loveable in Death To Smoochy.  His skill cannot be questioned, but if he presents chemistry issues for one’s cast, that presents a legitimate concern.  Perhaps Norton is just getting a bad rap as a result of gossip gone wild.  However, if so much gossip is consistent over a period of time, there may be some truth to it.

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:2792:]]3) Morgan Freeman

Born: Memphis, Tennessee in 1937

Last major feature: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Notable awards: 2005 Academy Award for best supporting actor in Million Dollar Baby, 1990 Golden Globe for best actor in Driving Ms. Daisy

Highlights: The Dark Knight Trilogy, The Bucket List, Along Came a Spider, Se7en, The Shawshank Redemption, Unforgiven, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Glory

As the elder statesman of this list, Morgan Freeman continues to deliver impactful performances as an actor because he finds the roles that compliment his age rather than react against it.  Of course, his iconic voice does much to extend his legacy as a marquee narrator (thus negating any ill effects of being “too old”).  He’s still more than capable of being the single feature to any production, but he’s gravitating towards projects with strong ensemble casts.  He’s won his Oscar so I can’t argue with his approach to further cementing his legacy.  I personally feel he was hosed for being overlooked by the Academy for his work on Shawshank, but then everyone that wasn’t associated with Forrest Gump was overlooked in ’95.

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:2793:]]2) Robert Downey Jr.

Born: New York City, New York in 1965

Last major feature: The Avengers

Notable awards: 2010 Golden Globe for best actor in a comedy for Sherlock Holmes, 1993 BAFTA for best actor in Chaplin

Highlights: Iron Man Trilogy, Sherlock Holmes, Tropic Thunder, A Scanner Darkly, Wonder Boys, Heart and Souls, Chaplin

(I’m not even going to mention the brilliance of Sherlock Holmes) How much money has this one individual made for Marvel Entertainment?  An exact number would be difficult to come up with, but the fact that he is playing the role he was born to play in Tony Stark has a lot to do with Hollywood’s continued obsession with adapting comic book titles.  Now let’s totally forget his involvement with all things Avengers and look to the fact that he got nominated for best supporting actor for his work in Topic ThunderTropic Thunder!?!?  Don’t get me wrong; it was fairly funny, but he was the only good thing about that goofball comedy AND he got props from the Academy for doing so.  This man has made “quirky” the new “sexy,” yet he isn’t the king of quirk as that title belongs to …

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:2794:]]1) Johnny Depp

Born: Owensboro, Kentucky in 1963

Last major feature: Dark Shadows (2012)

Notable awards: 2008 Golden Globe for best performance in a musical for Sweeney Todd and nominated for just about everything else, yet never ultimately winning

Highlights: Pirates of the Caribbean Saga, Public Enemies, Finding Neverland, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, From Hell, Blow, The Ninth Gate, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Ed Wood, Edward Scissorhands

You do of course realize that had Johnny decided to sell out and become the teenie-bopper heart throb he was being groomed for, we would be talking about an actor with an inferior filmography and absolutely zero recognition from any notable authority in the field of acting proficiency.  He’d also not be on this list at all.  Yet, he still hasn’t won one single Oscar despite so many nominations and other performances worthy of nomination.  This reveals the inner quirk of Johnny Depp; a man determined to have his career play out the way he wants it.  Depp has all the skills as he can produce any performance for any role.  The only reason he doesn’t have multiple Oscars is a direct result of the projects he chooses to commit to.  Depp despises the mainstream as evidenced by the soul connection he shared with Hunter S. Thompson (of all people).  There are so many Oscar winning actors, yet few have been as unique as individuals let alone the roles they became famous for as Depp.  Frank Sinatra would be proud that he’s “doing it his way,” but I do see Oscar gold in Johnny’s future.  What’s really interesting is that an Oscar victory would not be seen as vindication for him personally.  His acceptance speech would probably go something like: “Thanks for this, but I have a fresh batch of opium at home with my name on it.  Bye.”  It could possibly be the best acceptance speech in the history of the Oscars for the simple fact it would finish way before the orchestra played him offstage. 

Those are my 10 best leading men and women of today’s Hollywood who actually originate from this country.  I completely understand how Hollywood is always looking for the next “hot, young thing,” but Australia isn’t the only place they should be looking.  I liken Cavill’s role as Superman to that of Patrick Stewart becoming the new captain of The Enterprise.  Stewart rose above the pressure and scrutiny of such ambition because his performances were simply amazing for every episode and every film.  All Cavill has to do is match that type of performance for one money and then maybe Americans will accept a Brit as the one who stands for truth, justice and so on and so forth.

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Leonardo DiCaprio Was Wanted For Riddler; Did Christian Bale Say No?

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:1920:]]A couple interesting stories to come out recently surrounding Christian Bale, Leonardo DiCaprio and The Dark Knight Trilogy movies.

Perhaps related, perhaps not.

We learn that Warner Bros. initially wanted Leonardo DiCaprio as the villain in the role of the Riddler following the success of the Dark Knight and told writer David Goyer and director Christopher Nolan as much.

In the latest issue of Empire Magazine (via WhatCulture), Goyer says that WB told them, “Obviously it’s gonna be The Riddler, and we want it to be Leonardo DiCaprio.”

As WhatCulture notes, this was around the same time DiCaprio was up for the role in Nolan’s Inception. And we do know that Nolan likes to use actors that he has worked with in the past. The Dark Knight Rises and the cast of Inception share the likes of Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Cillian Murphy, Marion Cotillard and Michael Caine.

But no Leonardo Di CaPrio.

The reason why?

Well, according to Christian Bale’s publicist, in a new tell-all biography (unauthorized, I assume), Christian Bale – The Inside Story of the Darkest Batman, Bale despises Leonardo DiCaprio.

DiCaprio. The name burned Christian like a branding iron,” Cheung writes (via Digital Spy).

The book states that Bale lost roles in This Boy’s Life and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape to Leonardo DiCaprio as well as Titanic.

And Bale beat out DiCaprio for the part in American Psycho.

So could Christian Bale have said no to having Leonardo Di Caprio as the Riddler in the third Batman movie due to some heated rivalry between the two?

The Dark Knight Rises hits theaters July 20th, 2012 and is directed by Christopher Nolan starring Christian Bale as Batman, Tom Hardy as Bane, Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle/Catwoman, Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, Michael Cain as Alfred, Juno Temple and Josh Pence as a young Ra’s al Ghul.

Head on over to the Cosmic Book News The Dark Knight Rises Movie Hub for even more news, trailers and images.

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