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The Verge goes to Hollywood: TV, movies, and the people who make them

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There's never been a better time to head to the movies. From the huge blockbusters to the indie masterpieces, from Netflix to the theater, there are great movies everywhere you look. Meanwhile, we're in a "golden age of TV," with some of the best TV shows ever made gracing the smaller screen. There are more ways than ever to watch, and more ways than ever to talk about what we watch. Movies are being funded on Kickstarter and they're being distributed by Amazon, or they're coming to Redbox Instant and streaming to our phones. Whether you make movies and TV, or you just love to watch them, there's more going on now than ever.Here, we'll collect all our best coverage of Hollywood: film reviews, TV reviews, and interviews with and stories about the people who make them so great. We'll help cut through the flood; these are the movies, shows, and artists you should be paying attention to.

  • Todd Gilchrist

    Jul 8, 2013

    Todd Gilchrist

    'Pacific Rim' review: epic, ambitious, and accessible

    Whether or not it sounds like damning the film with faint praise, the greatest virtue of Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim may be that you can always understand what’s happening, what the characters are doing, and why they are doing it. After what seems like years of convoluted megamovies whose pretzel-like twists, turns, and double-crosses confound logic and confuse audiences, it’s incredibly refreshing to watch a film where the setup is simple, the mythology straightforward, and the execution consistently clear.

    Working on his biggest canvas to date, the director of Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth introduces an entirely new world to audiences with a robots-versus-monsters scenario that includes the same sort of nerdy details and sci-fi jargon as its overcomplicated brethren, but under del Toro it all makes sense — and even better, he makes us care about it.

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  • Bryan Bishop

    Jun 29, 2013

    Bryan Bishop

    Making 'Man of Steel': a conversation with visual effects supervisor John 'DJ' DesJardin

    Man of Steel
    Man of Steel

    Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel opened to record-breaking box office numbers, thanks in no small part to its arresting visual sequences. One of the individuals behind those scenes is the film’s visual effects supervisor, John “DJ” DesJardin. First drawn to effects work after seeing the likes of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Wars, DesJardin has since carved out a distinguished career, with films like Watchmen, Sucker Punch, and the two Matrix sequels to his name. I spoke with him about what it took to reimagine the Kryptonian superhero for a modern audience, starting with Superman’s most iconic action: flying.

    Warning: some very mild story spoilers are included below.

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  • Bryan Bishop

    Jun 24, 2013

    Bryan Bishop

    Director Saschka Unseld discusses Pixar, photorealism, and the making of 'The Blue Umbrella'

    Saschka Unseld hero
    Saschka Unseld hero

    Pixar Animation Studios isn’t just known for its feature films. Shorts like Tin Toy, Geri’s Game, and For the Birds have become classics in their own right, praised both for their whimsical stories and their technological innovations. Paired with Monsters University is the studio’s latest: The Blue Umbrella, from director Saschka Unseld.

    Unseld served as a layout artist on films like Toy Story 3 and Cars 2, but The Blue Umbrella takes a remarkably different aesthetic approach than those films. The story of two umbrellas that meet cute and fall in love on a crowded city street, it’s being billed as Pixar’s first photorealistic short, and it delivers on that promise. The effect is so striking, I spent the first three shots of the movie wondering why Pixar had decided to show live action footage before the short itself began. As part of our visit to Pixar, we sat down with Unseld to talk about the company’s creative process, the impetus behind The Blue Umbrella, and what drove the move to photorealism.

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  • Ross Miller

    Jun 21, 2013

    Ross Miller

    Inside Pixar (On The Verge)

    Bryan Bishop visits Pixar and gets an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at the animation studio. He also talks to some of the brilliant people behind Monsters University and the accompanying short film The Blue Umbrella.

    Video by Billy Disney and Jordan Oplinger. Part of On The Verge from June 21st.

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  • Bryan Bishop

    Jun 19, 2013

    Bryan Bishop

    'World War Z' review: Brad Pitt’s zombie thriller is a scary summer surprise

    World War Z
    World War Z

    Sometimes a movie surprises you. Something you thought was going to be a mid-summer slog or an underwhelming riff on familiar themes turns out to be something more. Familiar tropes are reinvented, a tired villain gets new life, and presumed lines of safety are crossed. You find yourself in the middle of a relentless rush of anxiety, fear, and exhilaration, and when you walk out of the theater you can’t wait to tell someone what you just witnessed.

    World War Z is that kind of movie.

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  • Bryan Bishop

    Jun 18, 2013

    Bryan Bishop

    'Monsters University' review: Pixar makes prequels look easy

    Monsters University
    Monsters University

    The film industry is obsessed with prequels, but there's one tiny problem: they rarely work. We know the eventual fate of the characters, so there are no stakes. We want to know more about iconic heroes, but seeing their backstory kills gravitas and mystery. From Star Wars to Prometheus, the landscape is littered with films set in familiar worlds that never come together — and often harm the originals they’re working from.

    That’s the environment Monsters University is walking into. A follow-up to 2001’s Monsters, Inc., it’s a test not only of prequels but of Pixar Animation Studios itself. A good-natured callback to the college movies of the 1980s, it’s a tremendously entertaining family movie that shows Pixar hasn’t lost its storytelling chops — or its ability to challenge audiences.

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  • Todd Gilchrist

    Jun 11, 2013

    Todd Gilchrist

    'Man of Steel' review: finally, the Superman we deserve

    Man of Steel widescreen
    Man of Steel widescreen

    Superman is probably the superhero least in need of an existential crisis, but leave it to Christopher Nolan to give him one anyway. As the producer and co-writer of the story for Man of Steel, the auteur who put the dark in The Dark Knight strips away the character’s unassailable integrity and moral certitude and gives us a Kal-El who’s far more man than super. He’s paired with dyed-in-the-wool fantasist Zack Snyder, who’s spent the better part of his career deconstructing superhero mythology (and mythology itself), and the two make for strange but oddly complementary bedfellows. Together, they reinvent the great-grandaddy of funnybook strongmen as a struggling orphan whose destined-for-greater-things future is framed — and forged — by the influence of not one, but two sets of parents.

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  • Bryan Bishop

    Jun 7, 2013

    Bryan Bishop

    ‘The Purge’ review: a thriller for the Occupy era that fails to deliver

    The Purge promotional still
    The Purge promotional still

    There’s something powerful in the way horror movies and thrillers are able to tap into the cultural fears of a given moment. Whether it’s the sexual politics of the 1980s slasher movie, or the torture porn explosion in the wake of the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, no other genre is so adept at saying, “Here’s what's on our minds right now, and it’s scaring the hell out of us.”

    That’s the tradition writer-director James DeMonaco hopes to join with The Purge. A home invasion flick wrapped in Occupy-era themes and fears, it starts off strong but is ultimately neither scary nor smart enough to kick off the kind of thought-provoking conversations it so clearly wants to be part of.

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  • Dieter Bohn

    Jun 4, 2013

    Dieter Bohn

    ‘The Internship’ review: welcome to Google’s island

    Internship Vaughn Wilson 1020 cropped
    Internship Vaughn Wilson 1020 cropped

    In 1989, we saw the release of The Wizard, a road trip movie about video games starring child actor Fred Savage. But everybody knew that it wasn't really a movie about video games or road trips — it was a movie about selling Super Mario Bros. 3 and other Nintendo products. Nearly 25 years later, we have The Internship, a buddy comedy about two old guys trying to reinvent themselves for the 21st-century economy starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson. But everybody knows (or will know) that it isn't really a movie about friendship or new beginnings — it's a movie about selling Google.

    Not since The Wizard has a movie been so in the bag for a corporation. It’s incredibly difficult to watch The Internship as simply a movie and not as a two-hour long recruitment ad designed to congeal the vaguely warm feelings most people harbor for the company into a wet pap of "Googly" propaganda. You can watch The Internship as the classic buddy comedy it tries to be — but you shouldn't.

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  • Bryan Bishop

    May 31, 2013

    Bryan Bishop

    ‘People want to be amazed’: the man behind the magic of ‘Now You See Me’

    magic lead
    magic lead

    David Kwong got his first taste of magic as a young boy in upstate New York. The trick was simple: the magician placed a red sponge ball into the boy’s hand, produced a second one, and then made it vanish. When Kwong opened his hand, there were two balls resting inside.

    “I remember turning to my father and saying ‘How did this work?,’” he tells me over coffee in Los Angeles. “And he just gave me that patented sheepish grin and said ‘I have no idea.’”

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  • David Pierce

    May 28, 2013

    David Pierce

    'Arrested Development' Season 4 review: 'am I crazy, or is this good?'

    "It's like you always say," George Michael tells his dad. "Family first unless there's a work thing."

    I've been waiting for Arrested Development to arrive on Netflix for months. Years, even — there's a part of me that's convinced CEO Reed Hastings added Instant Streaming to Netflix just so we could all re-watch the show, then started producing original content just so he could bring it back. I fully support both decisions, and when the show's 15 new episodes finally became available on May 26th, I bailed on my family’s Memorial Day activities, hunkered down in front of my TV on a gorgeous day in New York City, and watched every single one.

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  • Nilay Patel

    May 24, 2013

    Nilay Patel

    'Fast & Furious 6' review: all roads lead to explosions

    ff6 1020 tyrese flying
    ff6 1020 tyrese flying

    There are a lot of things to say about Fast & Furious 6, which opens this weekend. We could talk about cars, or explosions, or the many new and interesting ways cars can explode now, in 2013. We could discuss new characters, familiar faces, and dead characters who are now alive again. We could ponder why director Justin Lin and writer Chris Morgan are now brazenly retconning everything in sight after making the last four movies in the series together, as though they are being chased by the Action Movie Continuity Police.
    We could even just sit around and discuss what exactly Tyrese is supposed to be doing, most of the time. The Verge staff is full of Fast fans, and I’m not sure anyone actually knows.
    But here’s a bigger thing to consider, after 12 years and six Fast and Furious movies: maybe only the odd-numbered ones are good.

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  • Adrianne Jeffries

    May 22, 2013

    Adrianne Jeffries

    'We Steal Secrets' review: Julian Assange plays the perfect villain in WikiLeaks documentary

    julian assange we steal secrets photo 560
    julian assange we steal secrets photo 560

    It seems like WikiLeaks has peaked. Although the organization continues to release material under the leadership of its controversial founder Julian Assange, none of its recent leaks have had the same level of impact as its big scoops in 2011. So it makes sense that director Alex Gibney would wait until the story had closure before he released his documentary, We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks, which attempts to be the definitive history of the whistleblowing organization.

    We Steal Secrets doesn’t say much that is new about the WikiLeaks story, but it is enlightening, artful, and well-paced. The film proceeds chronologically through WikiLeaks’ three biggest scoops: the video of the Blackhawk Apache helicopter air strike that killed two Reuters journalists, the Afghan war logs, the Iraq war logs, and the massive dump of more than 250,000 diplomatic cables.

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  • Bryan Bishop

    May 14, 2013

    Bryan Bishop

    ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ review: boldly going back to the future

    trek
    trek

    In 2009 J.J. Abrams reimagined Star Trek, turning Gene Roddenberry’s near-utopian vision into a high-octane summer action ride. Rather than simply creating a prequel, however, Abrams opted to fork the Trek universe with a bit of time travel trickery and some heavy lifting from Leonard Nimoy. The result was a massive hit that set the stage for a new series of adventures unencumbered by more than 45 years of canon.

    Now comes Star Trek Into Darkness — but instead of taking advantage of that fresh start, the movie goes in the opposite direction. Leaning on its predecessors to an even greater degree than the 2009 reboot, it’s a film that that can be taken in wildly different ways depending on what the viewer brings to the table. If you loved the 2009 film, you’ll see more of the same wall-to-wall enjoyable summer action. If you have a strong attachment to earlier Trek films, however, you may walk out of the theater very angry.

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  • Bryan Bishop

    May 2, 2013

    Bryan Bishop

    ‘Iron Man 3’ review: Robert Downey Jr. becomes the latest lethal weapon

    Iron Man hero (1024px)
    Iron Man hero (1024px)

    Iron Man has always been the smartest of Marvel’s film franchises. From the very beginning, it matched Robert Downey Jr.’s effortless charm with a subtle hint of social commentary (Tony Stark is a weapons manufacturer who learns to give back to humanity after an electromagnet is plugged into his chest, after all.) That one-two punch turned what could have been a goofy comic adaptation into a pair of blockbusters that didn’t force the audience to check its brain at the door.

    Downey now returns in the highly-anticipated Iron Man 3, with action movie all-star Shane Black taking the helm from Jon Favreau. The film starts off with even grander ambitions than its predecessors, only to jettison them for a superhero riff on the old-school action-comedy — though you may be too wrapped up in the spectacle to notice.

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  • Bryan Bishop

    Apr 21, 2013

    Bryan Bishop

    ‘The Machine’ review: a stylish indie sci-fi thriller about humanity's obsolescence

    We live in an age where smartphones can tell us when we need to leave for the airport and Turing test competitors inch ever closer to a passing grade, but true artificial intelligence remains out there on the horizon, frustratingly out of reach. At the Tribeca Film Festival a new sci-fi action film imagines one way we might finally achieve that goal — and some of the moral and ethical problems we might not see coming. It’s called The Machine, and you’re going to want to see it.

    The second feature from writer and director Caradog James, the film tells the story of Dr. Vincent McCarthy (Toby Stephens). It’s the near-future. A cold war with China has pushed the Western world into a continued economic depression, and building the first intelligent machines has become the new space race. McCarthy works for the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense, designing implants for brain-damaged soldiers. He’s a brilliant and driven man seemingly doing noble work — but there’s something darker there pushing him on. There’s also the matter of how well his research is going; there have been accidents along the way, and he’s treading in a particularly grey area of the moral spectrum.

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  • Bryan Bishop

    Apr 17, 2013

    Bryan Bishop

    ‘Oblivion’ review: a post-apocalyptic beauty that succeeds even while it stumbles

    Obilivion still hero
    Obilivion still hero

    2013 is shaping up to be the year of the high-end science fiction movie. With the likes of Will Smith and Matt Damon starring in new genre films, and some major blockbusters from J.J. Abrams and Guillermo del Toro just around the corner, there's a lot to choose from. Kicking the summer off is Oblivion. Starring Tom Cruise, it’s the second feature from Joseph Kosinski, the filmmaker behind Tron: Legacy. Part action movie, part puzzle, it’s a film whose beauty and emotional aspirations ultimately overpower the story problems it runs into along the way.

    The set-up is standard dystopian fare. It’s 2077. Earth is an irradiated wasteland thanks to an alien invasion 60 years ago, and while the majority of the human race has retired to one of Saturn’s moons, some have stayed behind to tend to the drones that patrol the ravaged landscape.

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  • Adi Robertson

    Apr 12, 2013

    Adi Robertson

    ‘Room 237’ director Rodney Ascher on the weird world of ‘The Shining’ conspiracy theories

    room 237
    room 237

    Stanley Kubrick’s classic The Shining is about a family facing death in the isolated Overlook Hotel. Or maybe it’s an indictment of genocide, whether American or German. Maybe it’s an apology for faking the Moon Landing, or a series of intricate visual puns. It all depends on who you ask — and Rodney Ascher, director of the recently-released Room 237, has asked just about everyone. Ascher’s first full-length documentary, Room 237 explores the weird world of alternate Shining interpretations, talking to five men and women with often wildly divergent ideas about what the movie means. We sat down with Ascher to talk about Stanley Kubrick, narrative, and how technology has changed the way we watch film.

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  • Ross Miller

    Apr 10, 2013

    Ross Miller

    Filmmaker Shane Carruth talks 'Upstream Color' and making movies like albums

    shane carruth
    shane carruth

    As the story goes, Shane Carruth took $7,000 and made one of the trippiest time travel movies of all time — one that eschews flashy special effects for a complicated (yet surprisingly cohesive) nonlinear narrative. Primer was a critical darling, but after its release, Carruth went silent for almost a decade.

    Upstream Color is the long-awaited follow-up to his 2004 debut. It premiered this year at Sundance (you can check out our review for more details) and is now seeing a limited theatrical release (think: less than 100 theaters) and will be available for streaming and download May 17th. We sat down with Carruth to talk about Upstream, his upcoming projects, his thoughts on Primer’s legacy, and what happened to the now-abandoned A Topiary.

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  • Bryan Bishop

    Mar 21, 2013

    Bryan Bishop

    'Game of Thrones' author George R.R. Martin on piracy, video games, and new shows with HBO

    George R.R. Martin
    George R.R. Martin

    George R.R. Martin is the man behind A Song of Ice and Fire — the series of epic novels upon which HBO's Game of Thrones is based. A novelist and screenwriter, Martin's career has spanned a number of genres and mediums, from short stories to the 1980s reboot of The Twilight Zone. In addition to the pending debut of season three of Thrones, the author also recently signed a two-year overall deal with HBO that opens the door for him to develop new television projects.

    Martin took questions before yesterday's Game of Thrones screening, and along with revealing that he would be appear in a cameo in a future episode, he gave his thoughts on piracy, video games, and what new television projects he might want to develop in the future.

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  • Bryan Bishop

    Mar 21, 2013

    Bryan Bishop

    The new season of 'Game of Thrones' is a slow burn of dragon fire

    Game of Thrones Season 3 still
    Game of Thrones Season 3 still

    HBO's hit series Game of Thrones likes to take its time. From the very beginning, the series has excelled at the slow burn: methodically pitting one character against another, layering betrayal atop betrayal, and finishing each of its two seasons in shocking fashion. Of course, there's also a healthy mix of blood, sex, and dragon fire along the way. If the premiere episode of the program's third season is any indication, it isn't straying too far from that successful combination — and according to the minds behind the show, some of the most satisfying payoffs yet are in store.

    Last night HBO and AllThingsD hosted a screening of the episode, followed by a Q&A with author George R.R. Martin as well as executive producers D.B. Weiss and David Benioff. The new season covers roughly half of A Storm of Swords, the third novel in Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire saga. Season four would ostensibly cover the second half of the book — though Benioff cautioned that the show hasn't been picked up for next year just yet.

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  • Tim Carmody

    Feb 1, 2013

    Tim Carmody

    'House of Cards' review: 'You've got to get a grip on who your masters are'

    Spoiler alert: to the best of my knowledge, this review contains no spoilers of House of Cards with regard to its plot. It focuses on the mood, style, characters, and language of the show, and to that end quotes much of its best dialogue. This should bother those who fear plot spoilers more, but I suspect it doesn't. If you are bothered by this, go watch the first hour — it's free — and then come back.

    I attended an advance screening of the first two episodes of House of Cards in New York City that concluded just a few hours before the full series became available for screening on Netflix. Writer and showrunner Beau Willimon and actress Kate Mara, who plays ingenue journalist Zoe Barnes, each said a few words but took no questions. It was Netflix's last advance screening after several all over the world, and everyone involved seemed proud but exhausted. Finally, they could just let people watch the damn show.

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  • Paul Miller

    Jan 31, 2013

    Paul Miller

    White noise: 'Euphonia' exposes the horrors of our tech-mediated reality

    euphonia
    euphonia

    I first got to know Danny Madden when he would do late night editing jobs in the cubicle over from mine. While I sat slumped over my computer for hours on end, he’d get up at regular intervals to do handstands, or ride my skateboard around the Verge office. He’s a restless, nomadic artist, who has recently lived in New York, New Orleans, Africa, and currently resides near San Francisco.

    His new film, Euphonia, which premieres at the SXSW film festival this year, was created on a zero budget, crewed by and starring friends and family, in his Georgia hometown.

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  • Ross Miller

    Jan 26, 2013

    Ross Miller

    'Jobs' review: Ashton Kutcher surprises with a feverish take on Apple's co-founder

    jobs 2
    jobs 2

    This movie was reviewed at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.

    Cupertino, 1980. Steve Jobs is giving an impassioned motivational speech to a small team working on Apple’s Lisa. "It’s social status. It’s social currency," he says. His voice is deliberate, paced to emphasize the most emotionally-driven words. On the whiteboard behind him it reads "File | Edit | Page Layout | Format." He asks the team how many typefaces are in Lisa, who in turn respond that it was deemed a less pressing issue. This isn’t the answer Jobs expected.

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  • Ross Miller

    Jan 22, 2013

    Ross Miller

    Shane Carruth’s ‘Upstream Color’ is a trippy, sci-fi take on the forces that bind us together

    upstream lead
    upstream lead

    Nine years ago, Shane Carruth won Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize for Primer, a complex science fiction tale about the ramifications of time travel. Famously filmed on a $7,000 budget, Primer went on to gain a cult following for its incredibly strong and incredibly twisty plot (spoiler: this is as close as you can get to understanding it all).

    Upstream Color is only Carruth’s second film, shot on a decidedly larger budget and coming to theaters in April (it debuted this week at Sundance). Think of it as Terrence Malick-meets-Trent Reznor: abstract, brooding, moody, at times graphic. If you’re willing to accept a broader, more indirect interpretation of “storytelling,” what you get is a flawed-but-fascinating exploration into the notion of symbiosis and all its meanings.

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