essays

  • How I Ended Up Starring in a Multi-City Billboard Campaign for ‘Parenthood’

    President Barack Obama was in year two of his first term. Estonia was closing in on its deal to join the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. It was a big year for all those reasons and one more: I was on billboards in New York, California, and Florida promoting Season 1 of Parenthood.

  • Brendan Fraser in 1999's 'The Mummy': Remembering Its Popcorny Pleasures

    With new 'Mummy' starring Tom Cruise in theaters this weekend, it's a good time to look back at the charms of the 1999 'Mummy' starring Brendan Fraser

  • Why Women Really Want to Love 'Wonder Woman'

    To understand why the character of Wonder Woman is so significant for women, you have to think back to when superhero films didn’t dominate the box office.

  • Our Defense of the (First Two) 'Pirates of the Caribbean' Sequels

    An impassioned defense of 'Dead Man's Chest' and 'At World's End'

  • The Religion of 'Star Wars': Why People of All Faiths Embrace the Force

    "Star Wars" and religion: Why the Force appeals to people of all faiths, from Christianity to Judaism, Buddhism to Islam, and beyond.

  • 'Star Wars' Turns 40: Dirty Secrets From Trash Compactor Scene

    The making of the 'Star Wars' trash compactor scene, based on recollections from Roger Christian, George Lucas, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and more

  • Roger Moore Appreciation: The Disarming Charm of His Buoyant Bond

    A critical appreciation of the genial genius of Roger Moore

  • The 'Alien' Movies That Never Were: Your Ultimate Guide

    From the original through the “AvPR” series and beyond, a guide to all the alternate paths the “Alien” movies almost took.

  • The Art of 'Alien': How H.R. Giger Created Modern Cinema's Most Iconic Movie Monster

    The man who created all those nightmares

  • 'Alien': Why Critics in 1979 Hated It

    Far from identifying a future hybrid sci-fi/horror classic, a look back at original reviews of 'Alien' in 1979 finds film perceived then as 'old-fashioned'

  • 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2' Gives Us the First Major Death in the Marvel Universe — It May Be Just the Beginning

    Superheroes die all the time in the comics, but they rarely stay dead. "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" contains the first substantial hero death in the studio's 15-film run — and the crime-fighting body count is certain to mount in coming films.

  • ‘13 Reasons Why’: A Mom of Teens on Why She Wishes Her Kids Never Saw It

    13 Reasons Why: Should your kids be allowed to watch it? One mom of teens shares her thoughts.

  • How 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2' Makes Star-Lord a 'Dude in Distress' — and Why That's a Good Thing

    Star-Lord fits in the sequel's expanded storytelling canvas in a role typically delegated to an overqualified actress playing a token girlfriend.

  • 'Beauty and the Beast' Lyricist Howard Ashman's Loved Ones Recall How He Brought Story to Life — and Changed Disney Films Forever

    Beauty and the Beast is about an enchanted world where spells transform ordinary objects, characters burst into song, and hope blooms even in the darkest shadows. This was the vision of Howard Ashman, the lyricist and executive producer of Disney’s 1991 animated film: a man who, in the words of his sister Sarah Ashman Gillespie, “saw the world as a musical.” Tragically, Ashman died of AIDS after completing work on Beauty and the Beast and never saw the finished film. “He really was the heart and soul of that original film, he brought it its wit and also its depth of emotion,” Condon said of Ashman, speaking to Yahoo Movies at the 2017 film’s press junket.

  • Disney's 'Beauty and the Beast' Is Much Less Scandalous Than the Original Novel

    Mrs. Potts sings that Beauty and the the Beast is a “tale as old as time.” But it’s not quite as old as fans might imagine. While similar folktales have been kicking around for thousands of years, the story that most readers know comes directly from a novel by French author Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, first published in 1740. La Belle et la Bête inspired both the 1991 Disney film and the 2017 remake, which pays homage to the original writer by naming Belle’s village “Villeneuve.” As always, Disney has taken some major liberties with the source material — which is for the best, as Villeneuve’s story goes in some pretty twisted directions.

  • When the Oscars Get Political: A Look Back at Michael Moore's Divisive Anti-War Speech in 2003

    In 2003, years before terms like “fake news” and “alternative facts” circulated through the media, documentary director Michael Moore used his Academy Awards acceptance speech to accuse then-President George W. Bush of being a “fictitious president” and waging a “fictitious war” in Iraq. “We are against this war, Mr. Bush. Shame on you,” said the director, as cheers and boos echoed through the Kodak Theatre (now the Dolby Theatre) in Los Angeles.

  • 'Resident Evil: The Final Chapter' Premieres: Get Ready by Reading Our Bonkers Plot Recap

    This weekend sees one of the longest-running action franchises around come to an end with Resident Evil: The Final Chapter — the sixth, and purportedly last, movie based on the popular horror video games. The series, starring Milla Jovovich, is known not just for its martial arts and zombie gore, but also for its… interesting plotting, which has taken quite a few ridiculous twists and turns over the years. Alice (Milla Jovovich), wakes up in a deserted mansion with no memory.

  • Oscar Frontrunner 'La La Land' Is a Good Movie, but a Bad Musical

    How do you solve a problem like La La Land? On Tuesday, the film confirmed its status as the Best Picture frontrunner, racking up 14 Oscar nominations to accompany its record-setting seven Golden Globe Awards. Because La La Land breezed into theaters on a wave of near-universal praise from last fall’s film festivals, it was immediately a prime target for backlash — and if you’ve been following the conversation, you may already be exhausted by the back-and-forth between critics who find the film dazzling or shallow, a delightful fantasy or a whitewashed nostalgia trap.

  • We Saw 40 Minutes of 'Logan,' and It's Going to Change Superhero Movies

    By now, the trailers for Logan (in theaters March 3) have made it very clear that this is not a typical superhero movie. Quiet and despairing, light on special effects and heavy on character drama, the third Wolverine solo film looks to be a drastic departure from previous X-Men films, not to mention the Marvel and DC Comics films that dominate the genre. At a December press event last year, I previewed the first 40 minutes of Logan, and I can tell you that superhero films are never going to be the same.

  • 'Reservoir Dogs' at 25: A Look Back at Quentin Tarantino's Bloody Sundance Debut

    It’s hard to remember a time when Quentin Tarantino wasn’t the poster child for every Sundance Film Festival-bound filmmaker looking to transition from indie darling to mainstream success story. Tarantino’s contribution to Sundance’s ’92 line-up was Reservoir Dogs, a gangster vs. gangster crime picture that the official program synopsis called a “furious nuclear reaction of violence and intrigue.” That description made the low-budget crime film, produced on a tight $1.2 million budget, stand apart from that year’s other offerings, which included the festival’s usual mixture of emotional dramas like Allison Anders’s Gas Food Lodging (originally titled Gas, Food, and Lodging in its Sundance premiere) and The Waterdance and such offbeat comedies as Highway 61 and In the Soup.