Operation Avalanche, the only good conspiracy—fake the Moon landing, get promoted

Operation Avalanche, the only good conspiracy—fake the Moon landing, get promoted

With this weekend’s 50th anniversary of the Moon landing, it’s worth remembering most conspiracy theories are more-or-less the same: a shadowy cabal of all-powerful, all-knowing elites comes together to manipulate us commoners, for whom they have nothing but contempt. The cabal changes—globalists, Lizard People, the media, the Vatican, whatevs—but the song remains the same.

So a few years back when I heard someone had made yet another a low-budget mockumentary about faking the Apollo 11 Moon landing, that’s what I was expecting. Maybe even Kubrick would be evoked again. Instead, imagine my surprise when 2016’s Operation Avalanche turned out to be light on conspiracy against the sheeple and heavy on a bumbling, baby-faced doofus who comes up with a plan to fake the Moon landing as basically a way to impress his boss.

Psychologists speculate that people are drawn to conspiracy theories because a world

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New trailer for IT Chapter Two ratchets up the horror

New trailer for IT Chapter Two ratchets up the horror

In IT Chapter Two, the Losers Club must confront the horrors of the past and put an end to the unspeakable evil that has terrorized the town for so long.

Pennywise the demonic clown gleefully inflicts all manner of psychological and physical torment on the grown-up members of the Losers Club in a new trailer for IT Chapter Two. The trailer was shown during New Line Cinema’s “ScareDiego” event, a prelude to San Diego Comic-Con that has been happening annually for the last three years.

(Some spoilers for first film and novel below.)

Set in 1989, IT essentially adapted half of King’s original novel, telling the story of a group of misfit kids calling themselves “The Losers Club.” The kids discover their small town of Derry is home to an ancient, trans-dimensional evil that awakens every 27 years to prey mostly on children by taking the form of

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We’re getting a fourth Thor film, and Taika Waititi is directing it

We’re getting a fourth Thor film, and Taika Waititi is directing it

Enlarge / Chris Hemsworth will return as the Norse god of thunder in the as-yet-untitled Thor 4. (credit: Marvel Studios)

Director Taika Waititi is a hot commodity in Hollywood these days, with no sign of his star fading any time soon. He’s just signed on with Marvel Studios to direct Thor 4, according to the Hollywood Reporter, and Chris Hemsworth is expected to return as the titular god of thunder.

(Some spoilers for first two Thor films and Avengers: Infinity War and End Game below.)

The first Thor was mostly good, blending action and comedy in a winning mix, although it wasn’t quite as strong as other origin stories in the MCU. The second? Well, The Dark World suffered from early pacing problems and an overly elaborate plot, bolstered primarily by terrific performances by Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston as Loki. Their complicated relationship remains the heart of the

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Lawrence of Arabia takes on Rasputin in first trailer for The King’s Man

Lawrence of Arabia takes on Rasputin in first trailer for The King’s Man

Ralph Fiennes plays T.E. Lawrence, who forms a fledgling spy agency in The King’s Man, 20th Century Fox’s prequel to the popular Kingsman film series.

Lawrence of Arabia is setting up an independent intelligence agency to take down Grigori Rasputin and Mata Hari, among others, in the first trailer for The King’s Man. Even though it’s Director Matthew Vaughan’s prequel to his popular Kingsman franchise, the trailer is conspicuously lacking in the dark humor that made its predecessors so broadly appealing. But there’s enough hyper-stylized action sequences to assure us that, stylistically, this will be very much a Kingsman movie.

(Spoilers for first two Kingsman films below.)

The Kingsman franchise is based on the Marvel comic series The Secret Service by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons, which spawned two very successful action/comedy spy films. In the first film, Eggsy (Taron Egerton), the young son of a deceased

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Stuber review: The world’s worst Uber ride becomes pure popcorn comedy

Stuber review: The world’s worst Uber ride becomes pure popcorn comedy

AUSTIN, Texas—July has barely gotten underway, but we have finally reached peak 2019. This weekend, a film whose entire premise hinges unironically on the modern app-driven gig economy will hit theaters.

“Uber hates this movie, by the way,” comedian Kumail Nanjiani said after a crowd of RTX Austin 2019 attendees just watched his ridesharing-meets-’80s-buddy-cop flick, Stuber. “It’s about a guy who kidnaps someone in an Uber—it’s like if Titanic was made for Carnival cruise ships.”

If hearing “Uber” and “movie” that close together immediately gives you chills, don’t fret: Stuber proves to be less of a marketing grab than Stranger Things 3. The ubiquitous modern taxi company had no direct involvement even though it had a role to play, says director Michael Dowse. That’s because of

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Archival footage, audio immerses viewers in Apollo: Missions to the Moon

Archival footage, audio immerses viewers in Apollo: Missions to the Moon

This year makes the 50th anniversary of the first manned lunar landing, so naturally we’re seeing a slew of films and TV series celebrating that milestone, like last year’s First Man biopic. The latest is a new documentary, APOLLO: Missions to the Moon, making its debut on the National Geographic Channel. Ars had the opportunity to sit down with filmmaker Tom Jennings and former NASA engineer Frances “Poppy” Northcutt back in June to talk about the making of the documentary, and revisit this pivotal moment in space history.

NASA’s Apollo space program is well-traveled ground in popular media, so Jennings faced quite the challenge in coming up with a fresh take with the material. Fortunately, this is also one of the most well-documented periods in 20th century history. The Emmy and Peabody Award-winning director

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Midsommar is a slasher film with artsy ambitions that doesn’t quite work

Midsommar is a slasher film with artsy ambitions that doesn’t quite work

Enlarge / Traveling to Sweden for a rare summer solstice pagan festival that only takes place every 90 years turns out not to be such a good idea in Midsommar. (credit: YouTube/A24)

A group of young Americans visit a remote Swedish village and find themselves at the mercy of a strange pagan cult in Midsommar, the second feature film by Director Ari Aster. The official synopsis calls it “a dread-soaked cinematic fairytale where a world of darkness unfolds in broad daylight.” There are certainly fairy tale elements, but the film also owes a great deal of its aesthetic to 1970s pagan horror—especially the 1973 film The Wicker Man—and your standard slasher film tropes. But the various styles don’t really mesh, and the end result is a film that is occasionally unsettling and disturbing, but never truly scary or surprising.

(Warning: spoilers below.)

Aster is a longtime

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Rian Johnson trades in lightsabers for postmodern whodunnit Knives Out

Rian Johnson trades in lightsabers for postmodern whodunnit Knives Out

“What is this, CSI: KFC?” Chris Evans joins an all-star cast in modern murder mystery Knives Out.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi grossed over $1.3 billion worldwide, topping the box office in 2017. So writer-director Rian Johnson pretty much had carte blanche for his next project. And he opted for a palate cleanser of sorts: a postmodern take on the classic whodunnit, called Knives Out. Think Clue meets Murder on the Orient Express, both of which the director has cited as influences.

It’s not as much of a radical departure for Johnson as it might seem. His debut feature film, Brick (2005), was a crime drama with film noir overtones, largely inspired by the works of Dashiell Hammett and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt. (The actor would go on to star in Johnson’s third film, 2012’s Looper.) For Brick, Johnson had his actors read Hammett and watch

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First trailer for Jacob’s Ladder reboot looks as spooky as the 1990 original

First trailer for Jacob’s Ladder reboot looks as spooky as the 1990 original

Michael Ealy stars in Jacob’s Ladder, a reboot of Adrian Lyne’s classic 1990 horror film.

Over the last 19 years, Director Adrian Lyne’s 1990 art house psychological thriller Jacob’s Ladder has garnered a strong cult following for its unusual camera work, surreal nightmarish visions, and infamous twist ending. So it was a bit surprising to learn a few years ago that a remake was in the offing. Judging by the first trailer, this reboot is more of a re-imagining, preserving some of the original elements while offering a fresh twist ending.

The original Jacob’s Ladder, released in 1990, starred Tim Robbins as Vietnam medic Jacob Singer, whose unit is attacked in 1971. Watching his comrades fall, Jacob flees into the jungle and gets a bayonet in the stomach for his trouble. He awakens in a New York City subway, and finds he’s now living in Brooklyn with

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Leveling up: Danny DeVito and Danny Glover steal trailer for Jumanji sequel

Leveling up: Danny DeVito and Danny Glover steal trailer for Jumanji sequel

Dwayne Johnson is back as in-world avatar Dr. Smolder Bravestone in Jumanji: The Next Level from Sony Pictures.

It is a universally acknowledged truth—at least by major studio heads—that any successful film reboot must be in want of a sequel. Such is the case for 2017’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, a reboot of the original 1995 film starring the late Robin Williams. The first trailer for Jumanji: The Next Level dropped this morning, and initially it looks like it might recapture some of the clever charm of its predecessor.

In the original Jumanji, a young boy in 1969 finds a supernatural board game and begins to play with his neighbor, Sarah. The game unleashes actual jungle hazards into the real world, and the only way to make it go away is to face down your fear and finish the game.  Of course, this proves complicated: Alan gets

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