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Tom Holland Gushes Over Benedict Cumberbatch’s Convincing Turn as Villain in ‘Power of the Dog’: “I Really Hated You”

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Tom Holland Gushes Over Benedict Cumberbatch’s Convincing Turn as Villain in ‘Power of the Dog’: “I Really Hated You”

Tom Holland and Benedict Cumberbatch are good friends, bonded and best-known thanks to their adventures in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Spider-Man and Doctor Strange.

On the heels of an on-screen pairing in Holland’s blockbuster Spider-Man: No Way Home, they combined forces yet again on Wednesday, this time in Cumberbatch’s honor to discuss his turn in Jane Campion’s critically acclaimed The Power of the Dog.

Holland quizzed Cumberbatch about the preparation, demands and challenges of stepping into the shoes of Phil Burbank in the Netflix film, which casts him as a charismatic yet troubled rancher who torments his brother, played by Jesse Plemons, his surprise sister-in-law, Kirsten Dunst, and her young son, newcomer Kodi Smit-McPhee. Cumberbatch went method for the role and the results have been impressive: He’s currently nominated for a Screen Actors Guild (a 7th SAG nod overall with no wins) and has snagged nearly two dozen critics group honors, more than any actor this season.

But before any questions were presented, Holland had kind words to get out of the way. “Congratulations pal, the movie is breathtaking,” Holland said to a humbled Cumberbatch during the online event for voting members of the Academy, SAG, PGA and other industry guests . “It’s incredible. The film is so shocking and it’s so gut-wrenching and the intricacies of your character — I’ve never seen a character arc quite like it.”

He went on to say that he came to watch the film from a “privileged standpoint” because he knows Cumberbatch so well. “When I meet you in the beginning of the film, I’m like, ‘Whoa, that’s not the Benedict that I know. What on Earth is going on here?’ For the first time in knowing you, I really, like, hated you. I thought you were horrible and so, just, grotesque and awful. As the film progresses, what I loved about it was that it has these themes of toxic masculinity and gaslighting but it explores the problem rather than the problem just being present. Not that his actions are justified in any way, but you understand why he is the way he is.”

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Cumberbatch was quick to give credit to Campion and novelist Thomas Savage whose book was adapted for the screen by the auteur. He said he’s fielded a range of reactions from viewers, some of whom, like Holland, found the film a hard watch. “His behavior, like you said, is repugnant. I’ve had some reactions, of people saying, ‘I can’t watch all of your film. You’re so awful,’” he explained. “I then get the reaction of people that they go back to it, maybe a second time through, or even like you, start off in this position of being repelled and then lean in and see him as what he is really, which is a tragic figure.”

The pair then did a deep dive into a conversation about toxic masculinity, repressed sexuality, the root cause of Phil’s behavior, Holland’s interpretation of the story, and the performances delivered by Cumberbatch’s castmates. Holland asked Cumberbatch to open up about his process in reaching the level of authenticity the role required in that he was playing the banjo, riding horses, rolling cigarettes, tying rope and so forth.

“I kind of went from the inside out on this one. First, as far as source material, the book is an incredible blueprint for character and for physicality, even, and a little bit like Watson describing Sherlock. There’s such a detailed kind of understanding, visually, for me of who this character is,” he explained before noting how important the costumes were in helping him find Phil’s footing. “That’s when it becomes the outside in, is the minute you have a costume fitting, [Kirsty Cameron], our costume designer, was fantastic. I really fought for those overalls, the bibs. Everyone was like, ‘Ah, they don’t look heroic enough.’ I went, ‘This is authentic. I need to wear them. I really need to wear them.’”

He also said he really needed to live a life like Phil so he went to Montana.

“The dirt, the feeling of sweat, and smell, and stench, and blood, and sinew, and shit, all of that stuff just had to be real,” he said. “I went ranching there with an amazing cowboy called Randy and his wife, Jen. They put me up in their homestead, which is on this amazing flatland prairie overlooking what the local tribe call the backbone of the world, and it really is. It was magical. And then they drove me all around the state of Montana to two very different, wonderful ranches where I experienced a branding and cattle herding, and at the same time constantly teaching me to rope, to braid, trying to pick up on my errors as a horse rider, and an English horse rider at that. I learned from that. I learned from watching men and women who do it as a living.”

They then talked about the process of working with McPhee as he and Cumberbatch dance through tense moments together. “Working with Kodi was just a dream, and because we were more intimate in that relationship, I was able to be far more on the same page in a way with Kodi. It was the one or two times that I let my guard down as being a character all day, every day because I felt we both needed to get that dance so right at the end,” he said. “We weren’t talking about what effect we wanted it to have, but we just encouraging each other as actors rather than just being in character all the time. And we’re both terrible gigglers, so we would giggle a lot in rehearsal. We giggled quite a lot in the shoot of it, which probably undermines the gravity of those moments. But we were committed.”

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At one point, Cumberbatch took a moment to compliment Holland on his performance as a spiraling veteran in Joe and Anthony Russo’s drama Cherry because of the similarities of the demanding roles. “You’re fearless in what you did in your craft in that film, and so are Anthony and Joe and their uncompromising gaze on it, and so is Jane,” Cumberbatch said, mentioning the Russos who directed them both in Avengers installments Infinity War and Endgame.

He also took a moment to thank Holland for donating the time today, especially now after the massive success of No Way Home. “It means the world, as a friend, and someone who’s experiencing what you’re experiencing. To have shared a bit of Spider-Man with you, and the phenomenon that that’s become, and just to have watched you and worked with you in other fare, as well,” he said. “It’s amazing to think that you are almost just at the beginning. You accomplished so much already.”

Holland returned the favor. “Honestly, mate, I was blown away by the film and knowing you as well as I do, you don’t need me to tell you what an amazing actor you are, but it’s an incredible film,” he said. “No one could have done that better.”

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Review: SAMARITAN, A Sly Stallone Superhero Stumble

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Review: SAMARITAN, A Sly Stallone Superhero Stumble

Hitting the three-quarter-century mark usually means a retirement home, a nursing facility, or if you’re lucky to be blessed with relatively good health and savings to match, living in a gated community in Arizona or Florida.

For Sylvester Stallone, however, it means something else entirely: starring in the first superhero-centered film of his decades-long career in the much-delayed Samaritan. Unfortunately for Stallone and the audience on the other side of the screen, the derivative, turgid, forgettable results won’t get mentioned in a career retrospective, let alone among the ever-expanding list of must-see entries in a genre already well past its peak.

For Stallone, however, it’s better late than never when it involves the superhero genre. Maybe in getting a taste of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) with his walk-on role in the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel several years ago, Stallone thought anything Marvel can do, I can do even better (or just as good in the nebulous definition of the word).

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The property Stallone and his team found for him, Samaritan, a little-known graphic novel released by a small, almost negligible, publisher, certainly takes advantage of Stallone’s brute-force physicality and his often underrated talent for near-monosyllabic brooding (e.g., the Rambo series), but too often gives him to little do or say as the lone super-powered survivor, the so-called “Samaritan” of the title, of a lifelong rivalry with his brother, “Nemesis.” Two brothers entered a fire-ravaged building and while both were presumed dead, one brother did survive (Stallone’s Joe Smith, a garbageman by day, an appliance repairman by night).

In the Granite City of screenwriter Bragi F. Schut (Escape Room, Season of the Witch), the United States, and presumably the rest of the world, teeters on economic and political collapse, with a recession spiraling into a depression, steady gigs difficult, if not impossible, to obtain, and the city’s neighborhoods rocked by crime and violence. No one’s safe, not even 13-year-old Sam (Javon Walker), Joe’s neighbor.

When he’s not dodging bullies connected to a gang, he’s falling under the undue influence of Cyrus (Pilou Asbæk), a low-rent gang leader with an outsized ego and the conviction that he and only he can take on Nemesis’s mantle and along with that mantle, a hammer “forged in hate,” to orchestrate a Bane-like plan to plunge the city into chaos and become a wealthy power-broker in the process.

Schut’s woefully underwritten script takes a clumsy, haphazard approach to world-building, relying on a two-minute animated sequence to open Samaritan while a naive, worshipful Sam narrates Samaritan and Nemesis’s supposedly tragic, Cain and Abel-inspired backstory. Schut and director Julius Avery (Overlord) clumsily attempt to contrast Sam’s childish belief in messiah-like, superheroic saviors stepping in to save humanity from itself and its own worst excesses, but following that path leads to authoritarianism and fascism (ideas better, more thoroughly explored in Watchmen and The Boys).

While Sam continues to think otherwise, Stallone’s superhero, 25 years past his last, fatal encounter with his presumably deceased brother, obviously believes superheroes are the problem and not the solution (a somewhat reasonable position), but as Samaritan tracks Joe and Sam’s friendship, Sam giving Joe the son he never had, Joe giving Sam the father he lost to street violence well before the film’s opening scene, it gets closer and closer to embracing, if not outright endorsing Sam’s power fantasies, right through a literally and figuratively explosive ending. Might, as always, wins regardless of how righteous or justified the underlying action.

It’s what superhero audiences want, apparently, and what Samaritan uncritically delivers via a woefully under-rendered finale involving not just unconvincing CGI fire effects, but a videogame cut-scene quality Stallone in a late-film flashback sequence that’s meant to be subversively revelatory, but will instead lead to unintentional laughter for anyone who’s managed to sit the entirety of Samaritan’s one-hour and 40-minute running time.

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Samaritan is now streaming worldwide on Prime Video.

Samaritan

Cast
  • Sylvester Stallone
  • Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton
  • Pilou Asbæk

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Matt Shakman Is In Talks To Direct ‘Fantastic Four’

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According to a new report, Wandavision’s Matt Shakman is in talks to direct the upcoming MCU project, Fantastic Four. Marvel Studios has been very hush-hush regarding Fantastic Four to the point where no official announcements have been made other than the film’s release date. No casting news or literally anything other than rumors has been released regarding the project. We know that Fantastic Four is slated for release on November 8th, 2024, and will be a part of Marvel’s Phase 6. There are also rumors that the cast of the new Fantastic Four will be announced at the D23 Expo on September 9th.

Fantastic Four is still over two years from release, and we assume we will hear more news about the project in the coming months. However, the idea of the Fantastic Four has already been introduced into the MCU. John Krasinski played Reed Richards aka Mr. Fantastic in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The cameo was a huge deal for fans who have been waiting a long time for the Fantastic Four to enter the MCU. When Disney acquired Twenty Century Fox in 2019 we assumed that the Fox Marvel characters would eventually make their way into the MCU. It’s been 3 years and we already have had an X-Men and Fantastic Four cameo – even if they were from another universe.

Deadline is reporting that Wandavision’s Matt Shakman is in talks to direct Fantastic Four. Shakman served as the director for Wandavision and has had an extensive career. He directed two episodes of Game of Thrones and an episode of The Boys, and he had a long stint on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. There is nothing official yet, but Deadline’s sources say that Shakman is currently in talks for the job and things are headed in the right direction.

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To be honest, I was a bit more excited when Jon Watts was set to direct. I’m sure Shakman is a good director, but Watts proved he could handle a tentpole superhero film with Spider-Man: Homecoming. Wandavision was good, but Watts’ style would have been perfect for Fantastic Four. The film is probably one of the most anticipated films in Marvel’s upcoming slate films and they need to find the best person they can to direct. Is that Matt Shakman? It could be, but whoever takes the job must realize that Marvel has a lot riding on this movie. The other Fantastic Four films were awful and fans deserve better. Hopefully, Marvel knocks it out of the park as they usually do. You can see for yourself when Fantastic Four hits theaters on November 8th, 2024.

Film Synopsis: One of Marvel’s most iconic families makes it to the big screen: the Fantastic Four.

Source: Deadline

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Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase Star in ‘Zombie Town’ Mystery Teen Romancer (Exclusive)

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Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase have entered Zombie Town, a mystery teen romancer based on author R.L. Stine’s book of the same name.

The indie, now shooting in Ontario, also stars Henry Czerny and co-teen leads Marlon Kazadi and Madi Monroe. The ensemble cast includes Scott Thompson and Bruce McCulloch of the Canadian comedy show Kids in the Hall.

Canadian animator Peter Lepeniotis will direct Zombie Town. Stine’s kid’s book sees a quiet town upended when 12-year-old Mike and his friend, Karen, see a horror movie called Zombie Town and unexpectedly see the title characters leap off the screen and chase them through the theater.

Zombie Town will premiere in U.S. theaters before streaming on Hulu and then ABC Australia in 2023.

“We are delighted to bring the pages of R.L. Stine’s Zombie Town to the screen and equally thrilled to be working with such an exceptional cast and crew on this production. A three-time Nickelodeon Kids Choice Award winner with book sales of over $500 million, R.L. Stine has a phenomenal track record of crafting stories that engage and entertain audiences,” John Gillespie, Trimuse Entertainment founder and executive producer, said in a statement.

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Executive producers are Trimuse Entertainment, Toonz Media Group, Lookout Entertainment, Viva Pictures and Sons of Anarchy actor Kim Coates.  

Paco Alvarez and Mark Holdom of Trimuse negotiated the deal to acquire the rights to Stine’s Zombie Town book.

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