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The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

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There’s been a few controversies surrounding this film in the media since its release, a little over a week ago. Controversies that range in significance and utter bewilderment, regarding the film’s source material, its author, anti-hero, and inspiration Jordan Belfort, to the film itself “The Wolf of Wall Street” being attacked by critics, labeled as shallow drivel glamorizing a life of criminality and abuse. Now, I can’t comment on behalf of the novel, as I’ve never read it (although I plan to), or defend Mr. Belfort as I have never met him, picked his brain, or researched his life (I must say however, it is very intriguing). That being said, there is one thing clouding my brain that I can shed some light on, debate and hopefully resolve. Something that’s distorting my thoughts with its incoherent, simple, overwhelming stupidity. And that is the irrational, baseless notion that “The Wolf of Wall Street” idealizes and absolves an existence free of morality, accountability, and stable relationships.

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I’m perfectly content to dismiss this critical negativity and deem it as idiotic complaints that pander to the obviousness and cosmetic, depthless aspects of a film that uses these highly-superficial, vivid visuals intentionally to mask, bury the truth of these distractions from the emotionally and intelligently inept. I’m fine in doing that and moving on. I form my own opinions, not base them on the unfulfilled experiences and half-witted conclusions of others. Nonetheless, I don’t think it’s fair that those who have yet to see the film or those that are looking for more from “The Wolf of Wall Street” should be bombarded by the opinions of those who only have a disdain towards it. I created this site to voice my thoughts, to interact with others, and to educate and be educated, so that’s exactly what I intend to do…

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This adaption of Jordan Belfort’s miraculous, unbelievable tale is directed by the illustrious Martin Scorsese and stars Leonardo DiCaprio as the lead character, the aforementioned Jordan Belfort. Containing an excessive amount of nudity, sex, drugs, alcohol, vulgar language, deplorable behaviour, violence, and illegal activity. “The Wolf of Wall Street” is quite the unique cinematic experience, a difficult one to stomach and endure at that. Clocking in at a trying two-hours and fifty-nine minutes, one might argue that it’s near impossible to match the celebratory nature and complete disregard for compassion and equality with vulnerability, depression, and regret for the film’s entirety. To that I say this… After roughly the thirty-minute mark, there wasn’t a moment that went by in which I didn’t ponder the stability, endurance, and humanity of our protagonist that was on display. “What about the first half-hour, you ask?” Well, it’s very simple, our lead was a decent human being for that duration.

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One might look at what he does, listen to what he says and brand his actions and reactions as gutless, inhumane, selfish, and heartless…While this is undeniably true, the way in which it’s portrayed, you know, how the light shines upon it has beencompletely misconstrued. Through every abhorrent movement and despicable word of DiCaprio’s Belfort, there is this nagging, disheartening hint of encompassing sadness and loneliness that radiates through the brash chaos. This is not a happy man, and anyone who arrives at any conclusion that contradicts this, his overall demeanour, has misunderstood.

Listen, it’s totally reasonable to connect Belfort’s outward appearance and emotional surface with happiness, a man who is pleased with himself and the choices he’s made. Hell, even the film’s ending seemingly coincides with this ideal. Conversely however, I implore you to see that there is nothing content about this man. He has lost his family, his privacy, his decency, and himself. DiCaprio’s Belfort has been misconstructed from the get go and every drunken stupor, drug-induced numbness, and orgy coma is an attempt to distract…draw his glazed eyes away from his creeping fears that became a reality all too soon. In the end, like us, he is alone, no matter how high he lived each moment. There will be a time after the present, everything becomes the past. DiCaprio’s Belfort has mistaken living for life and love. I don’t believe for one second that, apart from the time he spent with his lover and children, he was happy.

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Well, that’s enough dissection of this taut character study, on to the technical aspects! Directed by the aforementioned Martin Scorsese, “The Wolf of Wall Street” is a welcomed return to criminal-empire filmmaking for the talented vet. Depicting the life of Jordan Belfort, a kind-hearted family man who gets caught up in the world of Wall Street. Earning a job at a successful firm and passing the Series 7, Belfort is informed by his then boss to adopt a lifestyle of drugs, alcohol, and sexual release to remain atop of the game. Then, having lost his stable job due to Black Monday, Belfort soon starts his own firm, hiring his friends and selling flimsy stocks. Soon, the company is a multi-billion dollar success, with a long list of criminal offences, laundering, fraud, and tampering being a few. Funding lavish parties for his staff, consisting of drugs, alcohol, prostitutes, and obscure events, things begin to spiral out of control. Having divorced his wife, remarried, and becoming a father, Belfort soon begins to crumble under everything.

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It may be misogynistic, abusive, excessive, vulgar, and dirty, but there’s no denying that “The Wolf of Wall Street” is the most entertaining film to come around in a good, long while. Scorsese captures the world of Belfort’s Wall Street in his usual, immaculate form. Feeling like a throwback to Marty’s “Goodfellas,” his use of entrancing visuals, unfathomable character depth, and intoxicating music allows him to achieve feats that no other film has this year. Martin embraces the violent language, sexuality, and craziness of his film’s premise superlatively. It’s not long until you’ve completely forgotten the fictitious feel of everything and simply become another stockbroker at Stratton Oakmont. Very rarely does one notice the handiwork of a director, but with “The Wolf of Wall Street,” it’s impossible not to marvel at Scorsese’s impeccable form. In all fairness, Martin hasn’t been this good since “The Departed” in 2006.

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I’ve mentioned in great depth the brilliance of Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance in “The Wolf of Wall Street” earlier, clamouring over his deliciously heartbreaking and charismatic Jordan Belfort. However, there is more character perfection here besides Leo’s larger-than-life portrayal. Matthew McConaughey, Jonah hill, Margot Robbie, Joe Bernthal, Kyle Chandler, and Jean Dujardin also star in “The Wolf of Wall Street” and their contributions cannot be overlooked. But before we move onto them, I have one final thing to say about Leonardo. This is the year he finally earns that Oscar, or at least, he damn well better. I mean, this guy has been passed over too many times. Is this the performance of his career? Well, that’s up for debate. That being said, is his take on Jordan Belfort the best performance of the year? Hands down! Open the “best actor” envelope blindfolded, because this award is all but official.

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Okay, let’s get this out of the way. Matthew McConaughey won’t be winning any awards or nominations for his performance in “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Besides, with “Mud” and “Dallas Buyers Club,” he’s got more than enough material to earn a ton of accolades this award season. That being said, McConaughey continues his ascent to the top with another memorable, hilarious, potent performance here. Who can forget him beating his chest in the middle of a restaurant, making weird noises, and talking about sex, drugs, alcohol, and money? If Jonah Hill should be nominated for “best supporting actor” because of his character in “The Wolf of Wall Street,” you won’t here me complaining. He’s awkward, both personality and appearance wise, down-right hilarious, and dramatically effective as always. Might not be as worthy as his “Moneyball” performance, but it’s certainly one of the best this year.

Kyle Chandler never seems to get the recognition he deserves and it’s starting to really tick me off. Countless films this man has appeared in and has given tremendous performances in each of them. At least Scorsese took notice of this man’s talent and gave him a fairly significant role. Jean Dujardin, who you’ll know as the Oscar-winning actor for his performance in “The Artist,” is used sparsely, but uses each moment to excruciating effectiveness. Whether it’s his invincible mindset or untouchable attitude, Dujardin will make you laugh while you simultaneously beg those around to let you punch him in the face. Jon Bernthal, or Shane from “The Walking Dead,” continues to make a career for himself post zombie apocalypse. His appearance, personality, demeanour, and narcissism will leave you gasping for breaths between laughs.

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Lastly, my favourite female performer of 2013, up-and-comer Margot Robbie. She’s got the “supporting actress” award all wrapped up in my books. I would like to inform her to start clearing off shelf space or at least get someone, perhaps myself, to build her a case for it. She’s sexy, poignant, ruthless, funny, and seductive as Leo’s ambitious, take-no-shit trophy wife. There has not been a better performance by a female this year. I know that in reality she’ll be lucky to receive a nomination at the very least, but in all honesty, there’s no denying her charm, talent, and beauty here.

Well, here we are, 2013 is now officially over. So I thought it fitting to present you with my favourite film of the year, so here it is. “The Wolf of Wall Street” takes the cake for me and I’m sure it’ll win a few of you over as well.

The Wolf of Wall Street: 10 out of 10.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)

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Establishing an exquisite symmetry between its smart, at times raunchy hilarity and disheartening insight into humanities innermost feelings. Forgetting Sarah Marshall is a true romantic-comedy that is leaps and bounds beyond the genre’s usual trash. First time director Nicholas Stoller does a sublime job and manages to squeeze every last drop of comedic aptitude and emotional range from his tenacious cast. Using the tranquil and breathtaking Hawaii as its backdrop. Forgetting Sarah Marshall is always easy on the eyes whether it’s the scenery or cast, except for one, unexpected and exposed incident ;). Nonetheless, the authentic and unflinching look into the deterioration of relationships that writer Jason Segel has conjured up is something we’ve all experienced at one point or another. Which ultimately allows the audience to laugh uncontrollably at our own vulnerability and self-pity.

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Peter Bretter (Segel), a composer, is in a five year relationship with actress Sarah Marshall (Bell). Upon returning home from a shoot, Sarah ends the relationship with Peter. Unable to cope with the abrupt ending, Peter decides to go on a vacation to Hawaii. At the resort, Peter soon meets Rachel (Kunis), the hotel concierge. Upon finding out that Sarah and her new boyfriend Aldous Snow (Brand) are also staying at the resort, Peter begins to follow them around. Taking advice from his brother, Peter begins spending time with Rachel and the two develop feelings for one another. Soon, Sarah becomes jealous of Peter and Rachel and the two couples set out to destroy the other.

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What is most assuring about Forgetting Sarah Marshall is that even though it technically has Apatow written all over it. Aside from the producing credit, the film actually has little to no connection with him. I’m not discrediting Apatow, far from it. I’m very fond of his style and pictures. I am simply stating that the future of the genre looks a little brighter when he isn’t the only name in the game. Directed by Stoller and written by Segel. Forgetting Sarah Marshall has an abundance of fresh faces to bolster a sparse breed. It is excessively difficult to depict real-life scenarios and the ones who can are few and far between. Now, with a slew of up-and-comers that have this capability. Cinema doesn’t appear to be losing all meaning and depth. What Segel and Stoller have created is much bigger than they realize.

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Whether it is the witty, clever, or sheer idiotic humour. Jason Segel, best known for his role as Marshall in How I Met Your Mother, displays his ingenuity in spades. Although, it isn’t always his keen eye for laughs that makes the viewers insides ache. His ability to evoke an endless source of empathy, joy, sadness, spite, essentially all the relevance of existence is masterful. In coordination with the aforementioned Nicholas Stoller. Segel is able to form a cohesiveness around Forgetting Sarah Marshall that almost makes it free from error. As for Stoller, who’s direction as a first-timer is remarkable, makes up for any faltering. You’d wouldn’t figure it was his initiation into directing considering how accomplished his form behind the camera is. Together, the two create a formidable duo who’s next collaboration is much anticipated.

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I don’t really know the reason why I love this film. Essentially right from the get go I was smitten. Perhaps that I happened to be in a similar situation around the time of its release intoxicated me, but I digress. Forgetting Sarah Marshall’s sweet and funny cast really completes the film. Featuring Jason Segel, Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, and Russell Brand. Without this complimenting foursome, Forgetting Sarah Marshall’s ageless story would not have the emotion, hilarity, or flare in its potency. The film also features hilarious cameos from Bill Hader and Jonah Hill.

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If I’m being completely honest, to say that my respect for Kunis and Bell was restricted would be putting it lightly. In my defence, this film was released in 2008 and Black Swan hadn’t been released yet. Since then, my admiration for the two has grown significantly, thanks in large part to Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Cards on the table, Bell really hasn’t impressed me since. Now that she’s proven she has the chops, I expect more from her and she continues to do these idiotic romantic comedies. Regardless, Bell is extravagant in the film and deserves better than what she’s getting. As for Kunis, well, she really steals the show. Conveying such emotional range and this flirty charm, one can’t help but fall for her, easily the best performance in the film.

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It’s hard to imagine a time when Russell Brand wasn’t everywhere, but in 2008, this was the case. Until Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Brand pretty much flew under-the-radar. This was easily the role that launched Brand into a respectable actor and after following it up with Stoller’s next film, Get Him to the Greek, Brand proves it was no fluke. Finally, Jason Segel, who pulls double duty as the lead and writer of the film. Really gets a chance to assert himself amongst comedy’s best and doesn’t waste the opportunity. Segel’s performance is second only to Kunis, who honestly has the better written role. Segel does a superb job exuding the melancholic stupidity that usual accompanies heartbreak. Not to mention a series of sequences that allows him to showcase his dramatic skills. Overall, Forgetting Sarah Marshall’s cast is nearly faultless in their portrayals.

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Outrageously funny and undeniably heartfelt. Forgetting Sarah Marshall is a romantic comedy for the ages.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall: 8.5 out of 10.

This is the End (2013)

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Fantastical, raunchy, and utterly insane. “This is the End” crosses over multiple genres and does so with an infinite supply of humour, sentiment, and flare. While you can expect the downright nasty and over-the-top hilarity that comes when you trap these funny, vaguely immature guys in the same room. You might also want to prepare for an abundance of heart-stopping moments and excessive, albeit comical, gore. With a plethora of high-profile cameos and a seemingly never-ending chain of body-aching laughs, that more often than not stem from stupidity and selfishness. “This is the End” is a brilliant showcase of the top-dogs in comedy and really magnifies the genre’s constant stream of disappointments. Thank heavens these guys can take a joke just as well as they give them. “This is the End” is everything you think it is, and surprisingly, so much more.

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Jay Baruchel arrives in Los Angeles to spend the weekend with his old friend Seth Rogen. After getting high and hanging out all afternoon together, Seth invites Jay to James Franco’s home for a housewarming party. Afraid that Seth will ditch him at the party, Jay is very distant and unfriendly. Later on in the night, the two walk to a nearby convenience store to buy cigarettes. While rummaging through the candy and beverages, beams of blue light break through the ceiling and carry patrons into the sky. The two rush back to James’s house through the carnage and chaos that awaited them outside. When a series of unsavoury events take place soon after, the party-goers come to the realization that the apocalypse is upon them.

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After the atrocious entries for “comedy of the summer” such as “The Hangover: Part 3” and “The Internship” universally and predictably failed in all their incessant and unnecessary glory, and with nothing scheduled to blow any serious smoke. “This is the End” as of the moment, is easily in the lead and front-runner to win the title outright. Obviously the restricted rating limits its financial success as it excludes a majority of the immature, loud-mouthed youth, which just so happens to be the target audience. Regardless, “This is the End” should create enough critical and box-office success to be one of the best films of the summer. Besides Guillermo del Toro’s “Pacific Rim,” “This is the End” has the potential to be the sleeper hit of the summer. With its spiritual premise, quirky cliches, and nasty, unrelenting humour. “This is the End” is that rare breed who’s staying-power is truly unlimited.

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Yes, you may be able to predict a good chunk of the jokes before-hand and of course there is a substantial amount of vulgarity and sexual references, both abusive and consensual. Nonetheless, “This is the End” has a few tricks up its sleeve and part of its unforeseen effectiveness stems from its unpredictable nature. “This is the End” has a story that has been tread and retread time and time again. What makes this go-around unique is unprecedented sappiness and a heartwarming core. Through all the punch-lines down in the muck, surprisingly, there are moments of sheer joy and meaning which truly separates “This is the End” from the pack. Aside from its demented comedic taste and chummy sweetness, “This is the End” offers up a few genuine scares and brilliant CGI work, something no one expected from this buddy-comedy under the influence.

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Written and directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. “This is the End” also stars James Franco, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, and Jay Baruchel. Now, there is no question that this group of guys know their way around a joke and how to create an endless supply of quote-worthy dialogue. Still, it is always a nice change-of-pace to see them break out the dramatic chops. Franco, without question is the most accomplished of the cast, yet plays the least grounded and sensible character. McBride and Robinson, easily the most underrated of the group, finally get another chance to showcase their talents. Rogen and Baruchel, the films two leads, form a brilliant duo who need to make amends before the apocalypse takes their lives. As for Jonah Hill, whom I love, I’ll put it this way. He is the one you least want to make it out alive.

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Performed with outstanding charisma and hilarious circumstances, “This is the End” isn’t your typical doomsday flick.

This is the End: 8 out of 10.

Here is a list of the film’s cameos. let me know if I missed anybody.

Jason Segel, Channing Tatum, Rihanna, Michael Cera, Mindy Kaling, Kevin Hart, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Paul Rudd, Aziz Ansari, Emma Watson.

Knocked Up (2007)

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Outrageously hilarious, satisfyingly poignant, and spewing with talent. Knocked up is a fresh take on the odd-couple cliche with just enough raunchiness, growth, and sweetness to win over even the most skeptical or disgruntled viewer. While it may not be sending the best message on courtship. Knocked up is a romantic comedy that has adapted to the times and through all its mishaps and immaturity, ultimately does right by convention and emotion. Taking full advantage of its sleazy premise to subtly convey socio-political themes to an uninhibited generation. Knocked up has the ideal balance of comedy, romance, and relevance to be taken seriously by its viewers while still remaining vastly entertaining. Written and directed by prolific genre advocate and veteran Judd Apatow. Knocked Up is an obscure love-story about two unexpected parents dealing with the unpredictability of life.

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Ben Stone (Rogen) is a laid-back slacker who lives off funds he received as compensation for an injury he suffered earlier in his life. He lives with several roommates and works on a porn website they all own and operate. Alison Scott (Heigl), an on-air reporter, lives in the pool house of her sister home. The two meet by chance at a club and spend a night together, which ends with them having sex. After some time has passed, Alison finds out she is pregnant and is persuaded by her mother to abort the baby. Upon deciding to keep the baby, Alison informs Ben of the situation and that he is the father. What follows is an unflinching look at relationships and life.

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Even though some of Apatow’s overly stereotypical and decidedly vulgar humour may turn the occasional viewer off. The timing and circumstance in which these crude, at times foreseeable jokes are delivered is undeniably impeccable and results in out-loud fits of laughter. Aside from Apatow’s comedic preferences which is, without question an acquired taste. His ability to mask the simplicity and triviality of his characters predicaments is unrivalled. It would be easy to confuse the commonness of Knocked Up as weakness and label it unintelligent. Actually, it’s quite the contrary. Apatow’s clever, insightful story showcases his diverse range. It seems that he is always making something out of nothing. Whether it’s an awkwardly shy young adult shaving his nether regions or two intoxicated adults absorbing the night life, Apatow finds the silver lining.

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Apart from the fact that Apatow’s most recent efforts haven’t been as strong as his earlier work. His scripts have always remained grounded and charming, and Knocked Up is no different. The follow-up to the massively successful, The 40 Year Old Virgin. Knocked Up never loses sight of its characters aspirations or history, no matter how bizarre and sociopathic they may be. Knocked Up is Apatow’s most complete, honest, and endearing effort to date. His quirky, intelligent, and heartfelt script really puts Knocked Up a notch above the rest. However, without the right cast to accompany such odd, complex roles beaming with hilarity and emotional depth. Knocked Up would become another meaningless entry into a genre that becomes less and less respected with each new, half-assed release. Thank heavens that this is not the case.

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One of the most rewarding aspects of compiling a cast with history is never having to worry about chemistry. The majority of Knocked Up’s cast has previously worked together on earlier Apatow projects such as Freaks and Geeks and The 40 Year Old Virgin. Starring Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Jason Segel, Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, and Jonah Hill. Plus a slew of other big name stars. Knocked Up has arguably one of the most prominent and comedically talented casts to ever grace a romantic comedy. Side note, there is also a hilarious cameo from James Franco.

It was quite the surprise to see the range Rogen has in his repertoire, considering he doesn’t use it very often. For Knocked Up, Rogen, without question gives the most vulnerable, believable performance. Sporting a face ripe with the fear, love, and courage. Rogen perfectly captures the unsteady eagerness of a soon-to-be parent. As for Rogen’s co-star, Katherine Heigl. She offers a splendid rendition of an individualistic, tough feminist brought to the brink of her sanity. Pushing her body mentally and physically to the limit, Heigl gives a truly outstanding performance.

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With an astounding script, lively performances, and strong direction. Knocked Up is a touching romantic comedy full of hilarity.

Knocked Up: 9 out of 10.

Top 10 Most Anticipated Films of 2013

All right, now, not to be confused with last week’s “Top 10 Films of 2013 Predicted.” This week’s Top 10 will consist of the 10 most wanted films set for release in 2013. Judged by budget, publicity, and overall excitement stemming from the general public, this Top 10 will feature, in a general sense, crowd pleasers. Without any further ado, let’s begin.

Honourable Mentions: Anchorman 2, Monsters University, The Wolverine, Elysium, Sin City 2, Kick Ass 2, Evil Dead.

10: Thor: The Dark World. The hotly anticipated follow up to 2011’s smash hit Thor. This soon to be blockbuster stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Idris Elba, Tom Hiddleston, and Anthony Hopkins.

9: The Great Gatsby. From visionary director Baz Luhrmann and starring a plethora of stars such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan. and Jason Clarke. The Great Gatsby seems primed for stardom.

8: The Green Inferno, V/H/S 2, and The Conjuring. This is for all of you who need your horror fix, a lot like us. Coming from modern horror master such as James Wan, Eli Roth, and Adam Wingard. This trio of frightening delights is sure to leave your pants wet and in need of a wash.

The Conjuring Trailer:

V/H/S 2 Trailer:

The Green Inferno: First official picture.

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7: This is the End and The World’s End. Here to get you prepared for the apocalypse are these two doomsday comedies. Brought to you by the guys behind Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. The World’s End reunites Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Edgar Wright. Also starring Martin Freeman, The World’s End looks like to become another cult favourite. As for This is the End, starring a multitude of comedies best such as Seth Rogen, James Franco, and Jonah Hill. This hilarious heavyweight film should be interesting to say the least.

This is the End: Red Band Trailer.

The World’s End:

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6: World War Z. Brad Pitt, Zombies, and based off of Max Brooks highly addicting novel, need I say more?

5: Iron Man 3. The Third entry into the Iron Man trilogy. It features an army of iron men and Ben Kingsley as a villain. Your argument is invalid.

4: Pacific Rim. Directed by Guillermo Del Toro and starring Idris Elba. This monster vs man picture features the use of gigantic robots controlled by humans battling humongous aliens, I’m sold.

3: Man of Steel. Produced by Christopher Nolan and starring Michael Shannon as General Zod. Man of Steel is the highly anticipated reboot of the Superman franchise.

2: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. The follow up to An Unexpected Journey. Peter Jackson’s The Desolation of Smaug should be a much improved film and appease those disappointed by the first.

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1: Star Trek Into Darkness. I have nothing to say, I am beyond words with anticipation. Just enjoy the trailer.