Moriarty Keeps Pace With RUN FATBOY RUN, Trades Punches With DRILLBIT TAYLOR And Confesses His Real Feelings On FANBOYS!
Hey, everyone. “Moriarty” here.
And, no, I don’t mean I’m going to piledrive fanboy culture Peter North-style a la Faraci. I just mean that I waited out the FANBOYS controversy until Weinstein figured out what he was going to do with it, and now that the dual-video release is being planned, I feel comfortable weighing in critically.
These three films all represent various prisms through which filmmakers are portraying that oldest of stereotypes: the nerd. Sure, we’ve bent new words to describing ourselves, like geek or fanboy or gamer, but these are simply new splinter incarnations of the nerd. It’s no secret that Hollywood caters shamelessly to this demographic these days, but how do filmmakers really feel about them? One of the reasons the original REVENGE OF THE NERDS remains so much better than any other entry in that series is because of the genuine affection and respect that the film had for its characters. The best film nerds are the ones who are both gloriously nerdy and yet somehow completely comfortable with it. How do these three films stack up in the long and storied tradition of nerd cinema?
I actually saw this last year, and was about to review it when the American distributor suddenly sent out word that it was getting bumped to spring ’08. Well, here it is, and it’s still a decent, good-natured story about a guy having to learn to take a little fucking responsibility for himself.
As a result, I expect 2/3 of our readership will reject it completely, clamping their hands over their ears as they run from the theater yelling “I AM NOT LISTENING TO YOU!” That may not be a precise figure, but you get the idea.
Simon Pegg will probably guarantee a fairly sizeable fanboy/geek/nerd turnout, and there’s a reason he’s attracted such a fervent following over the last decade of work. There’s an approachability about him, a normalcy. He seems like a guy who’s got his head on straight, even when he’s a fuck-up like he is as Dennis, the lead in RUN FATBOY RUN. Pegg co-wrote the script with Michael Ian Black, and it’s pretty conventional British romantic comedy fare (which, admittedly, is a cut above conventional American romantic comedy fare), executed well, but not terribly surprising. Years ago, he literally ran out of his own wedding, leaving Libby (Thandie Newton) pregnant and alone. Now, five years later, Dennis finds himself constantly trying to insinuate himself in Libby’s life, and trying to be a real dad to Jake (the ridiculously cute Matthew Fenton). Libby’s involved with the mandatory New Asshole Boyfriend, played here by Hank Azaria. Even his name makes you want to punch him in the face. “Whit.” He’s “perfect,” which means of course that he is a giant piece of shit, and for some reason, Libby doesn’t see it.
Dennis decides to prove to Libby that he can do anything Whit can, and he pledges to run a marathon in London. The rest of the film is just the build-up to the event and what it does to his relationships. The best stuff in the film, in my opinion, is between Pegg and Dylan Moran, and I could watch pretty much any situation with these two just riffing off of each other. David FRIENDS Schwimmer (that’s his legal name on his driver’s license... true story) makes his feature debut as a director, and his work is fine. I’m not rabid to see his next movie, but I certainly wouldn’t be adverse to it. RUN FATBOY RUN is decent entertainment. If you’ve seen the trailer, you know what you’re getting. Just don’t expect much extra.
If you go see DRILLBIT TAYLOR, you might notice that Edmond Dantes is given a co-story credit.
Edmond Dantes, you may or may not know, is John Hughes, ‘80s teen comedy demigod, and DRILLBIT TAYLOR was one of many treatments he wrote during his overall production deal with Paramount. Hughes was a machine when he was working at his peak. He came from the world of advertising before he was a filmmaker, and his time writing short fiction for NATIONAL LAMPOON really served him well when cranking out treatments and scripts for a production deal. I love that there are Hughes treatments that are still floating around out there, like little John Hughes seeds that haven’t been planted yet. In this particular case, Seth Rogen and Kristofor Brown worked together to turn this Hughes idea into... something that pretty closely resembles second-tier John Hughes movies from back in the day.
And that is no insult, my friends. Not where I come from.
I don’t think DRILLBIT works completely. But I don’t think a lot of John Hughes films are perfect, either. That doesn’t mean they are without charm or laughs. DRILLBIT gets a lot of goodwill from me because they found the right kids. They’re not movie slick. They’re real, and they’ve got a good sense of rapport. I’m mentioning this because it’s going to be real important in the next review as well. Nate Hartley, Troy Gentile, and the strange and tiny David Dorfman all work really well as friends. Steven Brill has taken his fair share of critical shit for films like WITHOUT A PADDLE, LITTLE NICKY, or MR DEEDS, but I think he’s got a knack with young actors. His first film, HEAVY WEIGHTS, had a lot of really good kid performances in it, and he does nice work with that lead trio in particular here.
The biggest problem with Owen Wilson films is the same problem that Jim Carrey films have these days: they’re just too goddamn underwritten. You can’t just rely on Owen Wilson’s Owen Wilson-ness to carry the day every time. He can’t make mediocre material great simply by being Owen Wilson. His very best performances, in films like THE DARJEELING LIMITED (it keeps growing on me the more I watch it) or THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS or... well... BOTTLE ROCKET... are because the material is there. The script is there. He has something to work with. Something to play. He can be lightning in a bottle doing comedy (THE WEDDING CRASHERS, ZOOLANDER) or he can be slow painful death (YOU, ME & DUPREE, SHANGHAI anything), but if you want greatness from him consistently, it starts with the script.
DRILLBIT sets him up as this great character who’s going to blow through this high school... and instead, he’s just sort of an amiable fuck-up until the mechanical third-act complications and the inevitable redemption. I wish the film had been as crazy as it feels like it wants to be, and less of a rigid formula exercise. In some ways, I blame the source material, bringing it all back to Hughes. The film’s best moments, and there are a few, feel like a real Hughes film, not just a hollow homage. I just wish Rogen and Brown had felt free to subvert and bend the formula a little more and given the film its own identity, one that gave Owen and the uniformly good-but-underutilized adult cast (Leslie Mann, Danny McBride, Cedric Yarbrough, Ian Roberts, and the great Stephen Root deserve special mention) a little more to do.
Okay. FANBOYS. I assume if you’re interested at all in the film, you read Quint’s piece this morning.
And I’m sure you’ve read many pieces about the film over the years here on the site. FANBOYS has been highly-anticipated by Harry and many, many others, and I sincerely hope that they enjoy it when they finally see the finished film. During this entire process... for as long as the film’s been discussed here on the site... I never read any drafts of it or saw any rough cuts of it. I was aware of it, but when I finally sat down this year and saw three different cuts of the film in three successive days, I got a pretty good idea of what I think the reasons are behind all of the “tampering” from the studio.
FANBOYS isn’t very good.
I wish it was. And I think in theory, FANBOYS might be decent. It’s just that in execution, it misses the mark, and for me, it starts with the very first scene. From the moment that Eric (Sam Huntington), Linus (Chris Marquette), Hutch (Dan Fogler), and Windows (Jay Baruchel) are put together, I don’t buy them as friends.
Remember what I said about DRILLBIT? I’ll forgive that film some of its weaknesses because of the chemistry of its cast. Here, it’s the opposite. This innocuous little comedy ends up becoming fairly painful because of the lack of chemistry between the leads. Huntington and Marquette are the defining relationship of the film. Their broken friendship and the gradual rebuilding of it forms the main dramatic arc of the film, and it never seems to me at any point like Huntington and Marquette are even interested in being in the same room with one another. It’s not even just bad chemistry; it’s almost like they’re magnets with opposite charges, repelling each other.
And regarding the much-debated “cancer or no cancer” debate... it ultimately doesn’t matter, and that’s a pretty damning statement about the movie. Again... we’re talking about execution and not intent here. In theory, a film about a group of friends trying to give a dying buddy his last wish could be very sweet and moving and funny and all sorts of other things. Could be. But the cancer here is mentioned a few times, but it barely seems to affect Linus. Marquette may be the main problem for me overall, since it’s his lack of chemistry with Huntington and his seemingly consequence-free cancer that bother me. The fact that it was so simple to delete it from the film and still have the film play pretty much exactly the same should say everything that needs to be said about it. Fans keep trumpeting the fact that “there are only two points between the scores on the two versions when they test them,” but what does that tell you? With or without cancer, it’s the same film. I actually think it plays more coherently the other way. In that version, Worthington gave up being a comic book artist to become a car salesman, and he ended up screwing Marquette over in the process since he was supposed to write the comics that Worthington would draw. The road trip isn’t about someone dying... it’s about someone’s love of fandom dying, and his friends reminding him of why that fandom is important. When people who haven’t seen both cuts complain that the new version “disrespects fans,” it seems to me that they’re wrong. I think the non-cancer version makes more sense out of Marquette being pissed off at Worthington, and it also makes it all just comedy instead of whipsawing between broad comedy and maudlin sentiment. I didn’t love any version of the film I saw, but if I had to pick, I would actually vote against the cancer.
Thankfully, you won’t have to pick. Both versions will be available on video. And if they don’t go theatrical at all, it’s not the end of the world. At least people will be able to finally see the thing. There are good things in the film, no doubt. Kristen Bell makes the most of an undercooked role, but the reshoots actually helped put her in more of it, which turns out to be a good idea. She doesn’t save the film, but she certainly doesn’t hurt it. Seth Rogen evidently plays 375 different roles in the film, including “Star Trek Dork,” “Klingon,” “Crazy Scary Guy,” and “Billy Dee Williams.” If you’re the sort of STAR WARS fan where all it takes is a cameo by a familiar face to make you happy, then you will no doubt love this film. Ray Park, Carrie Fisher, and “Billy Dee Williams” all appear, but I honestly didn’t think any of the appearances were particularly funny or worthwhile. It’s more like a checklist. “Okay... yeah, that was someone from a STAR WARS film. Got it.” Like most of the STAR WARS references throughout the film, the jokes all feel a little threadbare. I think this film is simply too late to work, in addition to all of it’s bigger execution issues. Kyle Newman’s the credited director on the film, and Steven (DRILLBIT TAYLOR) Brill handled the majority of the reshoots and the reshaping of the film, and the result is exactly what you think it is... a sort of a Frankenstein thing made up of some good pieces and some bad pieces.
I was at a press event with Frosty from Collider.com, and he and I have known each other for about 10 years now. One of the most important things we bonded over was STAR WARS. When the subject of this film came up, it was obvious that Frosty is far more fond of it than I am, and I explained to him all the things that I think are wrong with it.
“Yeah, but I just love STAR WARS,” he said. “You have to understand... I was a huuuuuuuge fan back in the day.”
I have a feeling that’s going to be the thing that most people who enjoy this film will say. It will remind them of something personal, and that personal memory will be what they attribute their love of the film to. And that’s fine. If it works for you on that level, then fine. But I was a huge STAR WARS fan my whole life, and that didn’t make this film any better in my opinion.
You’ll see for yourself once The Weinstein Company sets a release date for both versions on DVD.
I’ll be back a little later today with my ONE THING I LOVE for Tuesday. Until then...
Drew McWeeny, Los Angeles
Drew McWeeny, Los Angeles
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March 25, 2008, 8:33 a.m. CST
keen to see it
March 25, 2008, 8:34 a.m. CST
not so much. But who knows?
March 25, 2008, 8:35 a.m. CST
Its okay. Its not SOTD or Hot Fuzz, but what is?
March 25, 2008, 8:37 a.m. CST
he he he.
March 25, 2008, 8:53 a.m. CST
or is it just that I am drunk?
March 25, 2008, 9 a.m. CST
Of course, I think anybody who writes scathing critiques of people who he probably has a lot more in common with than not--and then does it in tiny white type on a black background--is a dope. In fact, anybody who writes long screeds in tiny white type on a black background is kind of a dope.
March 25, 2008, 9:12 a.m. CST
by Mr. Nice Gaius
...is the pathetic comment left by former AICN Talkbacker, AnimalStructure. Same shit, different site. Pathetic.<P>Devin did make some very salient points though. A lot of which I happen to agree with...
March 25, 2008, 9:20 a.m. CST
possibly top 5. I specifically enjoyed the frank and honest dissertation on Fanboys, and helping make this non-cancer non-controversy a little clearer for people on the fringes of this drama. I have a spouse who is surviving cancer, and I can tell you that nothing unsells a movie or TV show or novel for me faster than a limp-wristed cavalier treatment of cancer. Its not something that you say "well gee thats too bad." and then move on. Its a devastating and emotionally debilitating condition that completely upends lives, and never lets them recover. Even if you survive and defeat cancer, its always hiding in the shadows threatening to return - you are never really 'cancer free' once you have it. You are simply 'surviving' it.<p> If this movie treats cancer with the same dramatic respect as influenza or chicken pox, then its clearly better off without it. For the life of me, I cannot understand why they would need DUELING dramatic McGuffins of cancer AND 'erosion of close friendships' when the reality is that if two friends were feuding and a third one was stricken with cancer, the other two would almost INSTANTLY set aside their petty bickering and realize that there are clearly bigger things to dread in life than a few moments of slighted insults. This, for me, destroys the film. After reading this, I dont think I'm interested in ANY cut of this movie.<p> There should be some sort of rule that if you're going to write fiction, that you cannot even MENTION the concept of cancer unless you yourself have suffered it, or a close loved one has suffered it - its not even possible to treat it with the proper amount of gravity and respect unless you know its pain personally.<p> Also, I want silly goof-ball movies like Fanboys to let me forget all the horrors that life wants to throw at me. I certainly dont want it to remind me of them. If I want that, I can just watch that stupid Angels Gots Aids miniseries again See what I did there? I dismissed a severe and deadly illness with a callous treatment because I personally have no sense of its devastating nature. See how ill equipped I am to write about aids? Same goes for cancer. If you dont have the chops for it, leave it alone.
March 25, 2008, 9:31 a.m. CST
by Mr. Nice Gaius
March 25, 2008, 9:33 a.m. CST
I thought this WAS 5-25-77... I'm not sure what the audience is. The mainstream won't go see a movie about a bunch of geeks going to see Star Wars and their adventures because, honestly, who really cares if they make it to see the movie. And to geeks...Traveling across the country to get your friend to go see Episode One before he dies is tragic whether he dies or not. Might as well have him drive to go see The Matrix or the Mummy, both are far better.
March 25, 2008, 10:17 a.m. CST
That's a great tagline
March 25, 2008, 10:20 a.m. CST
I had a copy of the script way back when (that was what, 9 years ago he made that available here?), but I never had a chance to read it ... I thought I saw a promo poster for it a little while back, maybe it's due soon?
March 25, 2008, 10:43 a.m. CST
Some campaigns do get noticed, yes.
March 25, 2008, 10:51 a.m. CST
You know, I honestly never thought about it that way. That is a helluva good point you made. No snarkiness here, man. Respect. And best wishes to your spouse.
March 25, 2008, 11:59 a.m. CST
Wow. "If I had to pick, I would actually vote against the cancer." So... you'd vote against the story the original director, writer, and producers made? The one that fans gave three standing ovations to at Celebration Europe? The version 300,000 fans emailed Darth Weinstein defending?<br><br> You LIKE IT when a studio takes a movie away from the filmmakers and mutilates it? Think that's a great thing, do you, McWeeny? And you call yourself a screenwriter and an artist?<br><br> I guess that makes sense, since you've still never had one of your own feature scripts produced. And your MOH episode made it clear that, if you ever DO get a movie made, it will never receive three standing ovations FROM ANYONE. Jealous much? Destroy your already non-existent credibility as a critic to suck up to the Apatow camp much?<br><br> Now hurry up and delete this message, before one of the five people who still clicks on your posts sees it.
March 25, 2008, 12:03 p.m. CST
is that we've waited so long, and it's been debated about so much, that by the time I do get to see it, unless it's the greatest geek-film of all time, my reaction is going to be, "I waited all this time for THAT?". If it had just gotten a little AICN buzz and been released, I could have gone into it with mild curiousity and little expectation, and (hopefully) been pleasently suprised.
March 25, 2008, 12:06 p.m. CST
is going to be the next Stiller.
March 25, 2008, 12:56 p.m. CST
It wasn't a question of which was truer to the original filmakers' vision, just that in his opinion one version was actually better than the other. I know very little about the film, but it seems to connect with the 'fanboys' due to the subject material, not the cancer story, which is obviously not particularly prevalent given the ease with which it has been cut. Also the 300,000 e-mails means very little, I could send a thousand in a day from different addresses if I were so inclined.
March 25, 2008, 1:34 p.m. CST
by they call it the dip
... that the cancer plot probably didn't make a difference, because it looked so lame either way. it's very rare that i can laugh at any star-wars-related humor. that family guy special, the robot chicken special, chad vader - it all feels so tired but everybody seems to toss their fruit loops over it. i don't get it.
March 25, 2008, 1:38 p.m. CST
by they call it the dip
... that more and more people say "i WAS a star wars fan". i know i'm one of them. we're getting burned out. it's been more stretched-out, rotted, and over-exposed with mileage than shannon doherty's withered vajeen.
March 25, 2008, 1:41 p.m. CST
by Rev. Slappy
I almost never read that site anymore. I just can't stomach the tone of it. It's so easy for people to sit around and bash the work of other people. It's so safe to sit on the sidelines and on the internet and never get in the game. And legitimate criticism can be made without it being a personal attack on certain the people or the work. I really enjoy reading Drew's stuff on AICN because he is thoughtful and presents his criticism without the need to get personal or mean or snarky. The actors and filmmakers CHUD hates will never get fair treatment. Wasn't Devin going to produce some giant shark movie with Jan DeBont directing? If that ever comes to pass I would be very, very fearful of what Karma is going to dish out.
March 25, 2008, 2:19 p.m. CST
Setting aside this pathetic little poser's pretentiousness and arrogance, that article he wrote comparing Heath Ledger to Britney Spears was tacky, petty, and the musings of a man running for douchebag of the universe. Were I a friend or a family member of Ledger I'd track this fat fuck down and punch his stupid face into pulp for those comments alone. CHUD is the online equivalent of a hole-in-the-wall video store/comic book store where wannabes sit back and talk shit on everything. What's worse is that Devin's taste is shit; the man actually endorsed Spiderman 3 while trashing Batman Begins.
March 25, 2008, 2:27 p.m. CST
Plus it has Shatner, naked hot lesbo scenes and even more Shatner. A great fanboy lovefest that doesn't make us all out to be complete shitheads. See it bitches!!!
March 25, 2008, 2:31 p.m. CST
by Rev. Slappy
March 25, 2008, 2:40 p.m. CST
is 5-25-77? That one had a hell of a trailer. Even looked worthy of a theatrical release.
March 25, 2008, 2:42 p.m. CST
Because Star wars is something held dearly to their heart. Then why did everyone shit on the Family Guy Star Wars? Seems like there was more tought and money put into that then Fanboys.
March 25, 2008, 2:53 p.m. CST
She's turning into the Josh Beckett of movies; somebody you can count on to deliver the acting chops every godsdamned time. :)
March 25, 2008, 2:55 p.m. CST
CHUD can be an interesting site from time to time but like you, I find their attitude to be a mixture of condescension and pretentiousness. They love to throw around big words and art-house, auteur lingo but they do it in such a way that suggests they are striving to sound brilliant rather than actually being in possession of insight and intellect. They love to ramble on in their reviews, often citing key classics as proof of their refinement, but mostly all of this rings like hollow self-aggrandizing. Even though I don’t always agree with the reviews on this site, none of the reviewers here, with the possible exception of that annoying English lady, have ever approached the smarmy, elitist tone of a CHUD article. If anything, Moriarty has become less arrogant and more introspective and humble, often suggesting to his readers that his critiques and views belong to him solely rather than stating them as being definitive. There is a fine line between being critical and coming off as a jealous, talentless little a-hole, and I think the writers at CHUD, specifically Devin, cross that line quite frequently.
March 25, 2008, 3:12 p.m. CST
Your comments about Fanboys are a breath of fresh, BS-free air. Now I actually want to see this movie and will do so with some perspective.
March 25, 2008, 3:41 p.m. CST
Free Enterprise is awesome! Shatner's one man show of Julius Caesar..priceless...haha! As long as Fanboys had been limping along I kinda got the feeling that it would end up sucking ass.
March 25, 2008, 3:56 p.m. CST
...in that piece. I don't like CHUD very much and pretty much only read their DVD reviews, but I give credit where it's due. The fact that über-shithead and notorious fascist AnimalStructure got pissy about it proves his point. <p> As much as I loathe the run-of-the-mill fanboy, I love the insanity their presence in AICN talkback invariably coaxes forth. Much of the hilarious strife in talkback is due to the differences between nerds/geeks and fanboys as well as fanboy on fanboy clusterfucks. CHUD's equivalent of talkback is by turns Zone-like in its poo-pooing attitude and just plain sad - not to mention headache-inducing to read.
March 25, 2008, 4:23 p.m. CST
suck my balls
March 25, 2008, 4:52 p.m. CST
the reason people dumped all over family guy SW is because it was mostly *awful*. sure, it LOOKED great, but the jokes were mostly eye-rollingly bad -- gee, just like family guy in general! as for fanboys, i like the basic premise of the story, cancer angle or not. he's right -- getting into skywalker ranch is a star wars fan's DREAM. my only hesitation about this story is that i'd be afraid to see the friend's reaction after actually seeing episode 1: he'd still have cancer, AND he'd have this enormous feeling of sadness because of the movie. i hope that part's not in it.
March 25, 2008, 7:31 p.m. CST
great article.And the fanboys bitch about it.....funny.
March 25, 2008, 9:30 p.m. CST
by Agent Blue
I should do research on the psychology of you folks on these message boards. I've never read so much defensiveness/hate spewing in my entire life, and I keep up with current events.
March 25, 2008, 9:55 p.m. CST
by Rev. Slappy
There is a good article about Hughes in the LA Times today. http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/movies/la-et-goldstein25mar25,1,2103281.story
March 26, 2008, 12:16 a.m. CST
by Bass Bastardson
I hate you, you stupid dumbshiot motherfucker. Idiot. Why are you such a stupid piece-of-shit douchebag? I bet you even like Michael Bay and fucking Ewe Boll movies, you tasteless sack of nuthairs. You probably jerk off to episodes of Matlock while you take it in the ass from Paul WS Anderson... or something like that.
March 26, 2008, 12:22 a.m. CST
by Bass Bastardson
Don't speak for the producers. They can speak for themselves AND HAVE. They have a internet show on triggerstreet and they talked about it one episode. Although they initially objected to the idea, they are now very happy with the no-cancer version and have asked the fans to give the re-cut version a chance and see it before they judge it.
March 26, 2008, 12:40 a.m. CST
by Bass Bastardson
It was so boring, prdictable and un-funny I wanted to walk out of the theater pretty much the whole time. The only reason I didn't was that I saw it with a friend who had worked on it and I didn't want to be rude. One of the problems is that it is the exact same main characters from Superbad, just a couple years younger and PG13-ed into safe mediocrity. That's really not the worst part for me though. Owen Wilson was not able to magically fix the writing because the writing wasn't the biggest problem either - the casting was. To me, Owen Wilson was the last guy on earth who should have been cast in this role... well, okay after Gary Coleman or Warwick Davis I suppose. The part really called for someone who could be believable as a former Army Ranger living homeless on the streets. It would have been much funnier in contrast with the kids and his character arc might have actually meant something - or even existed in the first place. Anyway, I'm talking too much, so I will shut up now.
March 26, 2008, 12:49 a.m. CST
by Runs with a Gut
CHUND, I mean CHUD, is a toxic and dispiriting community -- a refuge for a geek cabal whose members often confuse wit with mordancy. <p> Based on a memo that's been making the rounds in LA, big-time producers and distributors are jack of the CHUD cult and are desperately trying to find a way to get it shut down. <p> According to the author of said memo, CHUD has long ceased to be a healthy hangout, even for the diseased folk who seek shelter there ... <p> If only the above were true.
March 26, 2008, 3:45 a.m. CST
I love your work, Mr. Pegg.
March 26, 2008, 6:29 a.m. CST
by Internet Thug
you didn't get your what i love today column out yesterday..your slipping like a fat man on a diet
March 26, 2008, 10:20 a.m. CST
by Agent Blue
I don't see any other way you'd know all my secrects.
March 26, 2008, 11 a.m. CST
Well, there it is. The Very Thing I Was Worried About. It's been a week for TVTIWWA reporting on this site, for shizzle.
March 26, 2008, 12:20 p.m. CST
It should be called "The 300,000," about how the makers of "Fanboys" bravely team up with Cancer Boy from Kids in the Hall to launch a withering e-mail campaign against the evil Darth Weinsteins, then break into George Lucas' home and force him to screen all 200 episodes of his latest secret Star Wars TV project "The Trade Federation Skirmishes," which takes place in the year before "The Phantom Menace." "Don't get your hopes up," Lucas warns them, but they just... won't... listen.
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