Month: February 2015

New superhero spinoff show coming to the CW

So in some new CW related news, the network has set its’ sights on a potential new spin off show featuring characters from Arrow and The Flash, in a weird mish-mash, super-hero team up/the premise makes no sense at this point but we’ll see where it goes.

And yeah, Caity Lotz who played the original Black Canary in Arrow who is also dead is suppose to be in it, as is Captain Atom and Captain Cold interestingly enough, so not a full roster of heroes. The announcement of a hero ensemble show rather than an out and out spin off based on one character did take me by surprise and you have to wonder where the CW is going with this exactly. Though to be fair, maybe a lone spin-off would be risky and the CW may not want 3 standalone superhero shows on at the same time as one could bomb, but having a superhero-team show plus Arrow and The Flash is apparently getting the go ahead, so who knows.

We’ll get a lot more information about said show as time goes on but I’m really curious to find out what exactly it’s gonna be about, the premise needs to be really solid in the first place to draw in viewers, though fans of the CWs’ superhero shows will watch anyway, it’s good to have a wider fan base. Also if this new show is some sort of hero parade style show (which is bit of wishful thinking at this point), it would be awesome to see Green Lantern, Nightwing and some others, though how all these characters plus Captain Cold, Captain Atom and Black Canary fit into a show is somewhat of an issue.

Whatever the intention behind the show, the idea is cool but putting it into practice will be interesting to see,

Whiplash review

Whiplash, a film that was not on my radar at all I have to say is actually rather fantastic, an engaging and compelling film from start to finish, it features the enthusiastic and ever vibrant JK Simmons in one of the best performances of his career and Miles Teller as the dedicated, single minded drummer aiming for glory.

Miles Teller, though this isn’t his breakout performance or anything gives a really spirited performance as the single minded Andrew trying to be the best drummer he can be, he works off Simmons excellently and you can tell from the get go that the two will be at odds, having the most dysfunctional teacher-student relationship possibly of all time. JK Simmons plays Fletcher, a bit of an asshole but an accomplished conductor to a classical, well respected jazz band, he aims with questionable methods to elevate his student musicians to great heights, pushing them as hard as he can to try to achieve perfection. Simmons as Fletcher helps to make this movie, bringing life and tension to the movie and making it one gripping ride, he falls short of physical aggression towards his students but he’s every bit as intimidating and menacing as a man can be, without being 6’5 or really muscle bound and that is great acting.

And therein lies the tension and suspense you get in the story between Andrew and Fletcher, with the two wanting the same things in essence but with Fletcher just going a few steps too far, the level Andrew goes to later in the film to continue playing for the band borders on the unbelievable but it provides a fantastic conclusion.

The characters in the film are pretty well constructed and compelling to watch, mainly in Andrew and Fletcher of course but also in terms of the people in Andrews’ life, his long suffering and worrying father, wanting the best for him and a potential love interest for him that he leaves behind. Seeing a bit of depth to Andrew was quite interesting and while it would have been nice to get more backstory for the character, you do understand his motivation, albeit questionable and ill advised. And plot wise the film flies along, at around 110 minutes, it’s so god that you want it to be longer, you still want to see what happens next, especially with that ending and of course the musicians in the film and the instrument playing itself is fantastic.

Not being versed in classical music and different terms, it’s interesting that JK Simmons character still helps the audience to try to understand his frustration and to see the different between rushing and dragging for example, the ‘not my tempo’ scene, one of the best in the film is tense and gripping. And to the untrained ear, (me, you, any non-instrumentalist) you just can’t tell that Andrews’ character is apparently rushing, just a nod to the talent, dedication and attention to detail that goes into being a musician in that type of music.

Attention to detail is another thing the film does well, especially with its quickfire and functional editing, used to tell things happening in a scene or take us through the plot more conveniently than with showing us with a minute scene. Whiplash has great features and is a great film, a straightforward plot elevated by great performances, a controversial  theme running through it and it makes for a great, thrilling watch.

8/10

. Great performances by Teller, Simmons

. Straightforward but gripping plot

. Great editing and fantastic instrument playing, Miles Teller especially

Oscar night reaction

So, the Oscars everyone, the biggest, longest and glitziest night in the film industry calendar took place last night, generally entertaining and flowing awards show, Neil Patrick Harris was a fantastic host in my opinion and while there weren’t too many huge surprises as far as winners go, it was still an overall good show.

While not full of the spontaneity and randomness of moments in the 2014 Oscars which Ellen Degeneres hosted, it still had some great moments, NPHs’ birdman re-enactment, John Travolta and Idina Menzels’ re-union, John Legend and Common winning an Oscar for ‘Glory’ and performing it.

Eddie Redmayne winning best actor was great and maybe not that much of a surprise as he was a long running favourite, alongside Michael Keaton who had a good night regardless as Birdman picked up a few awards. Seeing The Grand Budapest Hotel pick up awards for production design and make up and hair styling was nice as well, the film was too good to not win anything. Also Boyhood, the film didn’t have a great night, Patricia Arquette won best supporting actress but Birdman really had more of a clean sweep, I was expecting more of an even share between the two films and other media outlets seemed to think the same but hey, at least it wasn’t completely shut out.

And Interstellar won an Oscar! For best visual effects, a well deserved win of course, the only real surprise win for me was Graham Moore winning the Oscar best adapted screenplay with The Imitation Game, not that the film’s bad but I was expecting American Sniper to pick it up. And speaking of American Sniper, nothing for it at all? That was a bit of a surprise but I suppose it was never a huge candidate to have a big night at the Oscars, it was a fairly late general release (came out in January). While films like Whiplash, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Birdman and Boyhood had months of pre-awards hype and build up.

Oh and I got a few Oscar predictions right (though they were fairly predictable this year), with Best Picture, Best Actor, Best supporting actor, actress, Best original screenplay.

Some Oscar predictions

It’s almost here everyone, the glitziest, most star spangled award show of the year, it’s only the academy awards of course, long sought after and always hotly contested. This year isn’t any exception and some of the biggest categories are full of quality nominees, anyway I wanted to make a few predictions of mine for categories and here they are.

I’m tipping Boyhood, Birdman and The Theory Of Everything to have a particularly good night, while American Sniper may get a surprise win somewhere. Hopefully we will get some surprises and not a a too predictable show, though it’ll probably be enjoyable either way with the ever entertaining Neil Patrick Harris hosting. I’d really love Interstellar to get a few deserved wins, it’d be a deserved winner for best score easily.

Also I’d like to see Rosamund Pike win best actress but it’s probably not gonna happen and a surprise win in best picture would be nice, imagine if Selma wins it. And yeah, I have left out a few categories that I can’t really judge as I haven’t seen all or any of the films in them.

Best Picture

American Sniper
Birdman

Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Selma
The Theory of Everything

Whiplash

Best Director
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman
Richard LinklaterBoyhood
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game

Best Actor in a leading role
Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Best Actress in a leading role
Marion Cotillard, Two Days One Night
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Best Actor in a supporting role
Robert Duvall, The Judge
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Edward Norton, Birdman
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

Laura Dern, Wild
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Emma Stone, Birdman
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

Best Original Screenplay
Birdman, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo
Boyhood, Richard Linklater
Foxcatcher, E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman
The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness
Nightcrawler, Dan Gilroy

Best Adapted Screenplay
American Sniper, Jason Hall
The Imitation Game, Graham Moore
Inherent Vice, Paul Thomas Anderson
The Theory of Everything, Anthony McCarten
Whiplash, Damien Chazelle

Best Film Editing
Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach, American Sniper
Sandra Adair, Boyhood
Barney Pilling, The Grand Budapest Hotel
William Goldenberg, The Imitation Game
Tom Cross, Whiplash

Best Cinematography
Emmanuel Lubezki, Birdman

Robert Yeoman, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski, Ida
Dick Pope, Mr. Turner
Roger Deakins, Unbroken

Best Costume Design
Milena Canonero, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Mark Bridges, Inherent Vice
Colleen Atwood, Into the Woods
Anna B. Sheppard and Jane Clive, Maleficent
Jacqueline Durran, Mr. Turner

Best Original Score
The Grand Budapest Hotel, Alexandre Desplat
The Imitation Game, Alexandre Desplat
Interstellar, Hans Zimmer
Mr. Turner, Gary Yershon
The Theory of Everything, Johann Johannsson

Best Visual Effects
Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Dan DeLeeuw, Russell Earl, Bryan Grill and Dan Sudick
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett and Erik Winquist
Guardians of the Galaxy, Stephane Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner and Paul Corbould
Interstellar, Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher
X-Men: Days of Future Past, Richard Stammers, Lou Pecora, Tim Crosbie and Cameron Waldbauer

Best Animated Feature
Big Hero 6

The Boxtrolls
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Song of the Sea
The Tale of Princess Kaguya

New Alien movie on the way, helmed by Neil Blomkamp

That Xeno

 

So in pretty huge film news and seemingly out of the blue, a new Alien film was announced today, much to the joy of all Alien and any long time horror fans out there, Prometheus wasn’t exactly every Alien fans cup of tea and that’s fair enough.

This new film may just be the Alien film that longtime fans have been wanting, there are so many places the story could go and the franchise is in good hands under Neil Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium). An ambitious and bold filmmaker with a love for sci-fi, taking on an Alien film will be a bit of departure for him but I think he can make it work, he’s openly spoken about how big a fan of the franchise he is and he has wanted to direct an Alien film for a while, so it seems like a fitting move.

Importantly, Ridley Scott is still onboard as a producer for the new film and I’m sure he may have some creative inputs and suggestions here and there so all in all, it’s a pretty sweet set up, seeing an Alien film with todays’ CGI as well should be quite something. Prometheus (love it or hate it) had some great visuals and the new Alien film will look even better, depending on when it does come out (2016, 17?), especially in the hands of Blomkamp, who seems to have a good eye for visual spectacle.

Some other talking points, will Sigourney Weaver return? She has recently spoken about being open to reprising her role as Ripley in the films, also will the new film be a direct sequel to the original films, also how will it fit in with the franchise in relation to Prometheus and Prometheus 2. Lots of things to think about but yeah, I’m pretty excited to find out more about the film in the coming months/years cos it could end up being great.

Ranking American Horror Stories seasons

Okay so this is a bit of a throwback to when I actually liked American Horror Story for one but I last made this post way back in like 2015 and we’ve had two new… interesting seasons of AHS since then, so I thought I needed to do an updated list. And here it is.

1) Murder House

One of the more memorable seasons, Murder House was a great introduction to the style and tone of the show, it still has some of the most disturbing and creepy scenes/themes in the show to date. The characters were great and the breaking apart of the family dynamic in the season was compelling to watch, the feeling that everything was inevitable at the end was a bit predictable but it was still good watch. Plus that cast, all seasons have great casts but Murder House had a great cast list.

2) Coven

One of the wackier seasons so far but probably the most entertaining, I loved the story for Coven, using real people from history as characters and the premise of young witches joining and competing in a coven was a great idea. Also featured some of the best character feuds and playing off each of other in Angela Bassett and Kathy Bates, as well as Bassett – Lange as leaders of opposing covens. The writing was great, Coven has some of the funniest dialogues and best character interaction in the series, okay the ending was ridiculous but one of the most entertaining and more well done conclusions to a season from the show in my opinion.

3) Asylum 

Asylum was such a great idea for Horror Story on a basic level, an insane asylum, it sort of writes the stories itself in terms of a horror show but Asylum suffered from a lack of direction, a shoddy and inconclusive ending and random elements thrown in here and there (aliens?) for no apparent reason. You can either praise or berate this side of American Horror Story in general, for being unashamedly wacky and creative, or for being random and intermittent with its’ ideas but for Asylum it didn’t really work. That being said, Asylum did have the great Lily Rabe and her stint in the season as the devil incarnate was fantastic and proved for some great episoes, Zachary Quinto was also great as a sinister, sadistic killer.

4) Freak Show

Freak show, the most recent season just lacked that sense of terror and the initial tension with what we thought was the main villain in Twisty quickly faded the way, the premise is interesting the season felt a bit directionless and characters actions felt inconsequential. But it wasn’t all bad Jessica Lange again stole the show and was great throughout the season and Dandy was a joy to watch (as annoying as he was) for just being so over the top, pretty spirited performance from Finn Wittrock as Dandy.

5) Hotel

Sigh, where to start with Hotel.. the meandering plot, the over-use of sexually intimate scenes and sex itself, Lady Gaga… now I get a lot of her fans dug her in the role but she hammed it up a bit much for me (though she wasn’t terrible). Hotel just felt way too all over the place and the lack of an interesting, cohesive main narrative killed it for me, making finishing the season a real slog, some of the characters like the inventor of the hotel were interesting but ultimately underused. If Freak show represented the start of the downward trend for AHS, Hotel is the real low-point of the series.

6) Roanoke

Roanoke, in two words… is God awful, a truly terrible season full of generic slasher gore, slasher bait and man what the hell happened to AHS? Seriously, Roanoke was one of the most convoluted, predictable and over the top seasons in the series but also easily the worst, the bad accents, the endless deaths, I still don’t really get what Murphy/the writers were going for, seemingly running out of ideas but boy was it way wide of the mark.

We need to talk about Johnny Depp

Ah Johnny Depp, one of the most accomplished, beloved and mostly respected actors out there with a long, colourful acting career, but now more so than ever, he remains a bit of a conundrum, he’s a fantastic actor but can’t seem to catch a break.

Catch a break in the sense that he seems to either be type cast or simply chooses bad films to star in, though said films are often quite a lot of fun The Lone Ranger, Dark Shadows and now the recently panned Mortdecai. If I had to sum up Depps’ last 5 years or so in one word, that word would be “Well…”, I just find it bizarre for such a great actor to have been in such widely panned and commercially unsuccessful films.

I am deliberately not pointing to Depp (because I think he’s awesome) for his recent movie flops but I don’t think it’s fair to singularly point to him as the reason. I get that for one Depp isn’t to everyones’ tastes and while he’s a fantastic character actor, some people just don’t find him entertaining which is fair enough but part of the blame has to go to the filmmakers themselves. Depp could as enthusiastic and expressive as he wanted to be but with a poor script, wooden characters and so on, the film simply wouldn’t do well, as was with the case with The Lone Ranger in my opinion, Depp was great in the role but the film, not so much.

Of course for any great film, you need a nice marriage of the two, the cast fitting into their roles well (which Depp pretty much always does) and the film being up to par in being well structured. I think it’s just a shame that the blame seems to be being put on Depp more specifically recently, sure he chooses the roles he does and all but he can’t carry the weight of a whole film, he is a star name that can bring audiences that may be part of the problem. Maybe it’s the level of expectation from audiences on one side, people being drawn to see a fun looking movie because of Depp may be left a bit cold if the rest of the film isn’t up to scratch, that and perhaps audiences have a bit of dare I say, Depp fatigue.

But getting tired of Johnny Depp? Surely not! Alright it’s possible but still, this recent lull in Depps’ career is hopefully temporary and with a few great film choices, I’m sure he can get back to the ‘top’ as it were, he doesn’t have to ditch his quirky characters or anything drastic. But he could mix up his roles a bit more and importantly just choose better films because it is Depp after all, he’s such a talented and devoted actor that I personally want to see him always be successful, that may not always work out for him but I think he deserves it.

2015, year of the franchise

A wise man once said that 2014 was the year of the geek, I am that man. And 2015 looks set to be the year of the franchise, we’ll be seeing 5 new additions to franchises that are at least 20 years old or older this year. In James Bond, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Terminator and Mission Impossible.

While there are a host of other brand new films of various types, 2015 is one of the biggest for existing franchises in recent memory. You could attribute this to a recent trend in Hollywood of reviving old franchises, re-booting them or remaking them completely for TV e.g. Scream, Evil Dead, it’s interesting to see some old and worldwide known franchises alive and well. And it just goes to show the power of familiarity with relation to franchises and audience expectations, hell people would go see another Indiana Jones if it was done well enough or even if it was bad, people would see it anyway.

Does so many studios greenlighting new movies in long running franchises mean that movie going audiences are wary or not fond of new ideas and new films? Not exactly, it just means that people love seeing what they’re familiar with, their favourite characters, settings and worlds and studios are aware of that. That and there’s some serious money to make off of long running franchises, TV show tie ins, merchandise, clothes, toys etc.

If you had to summarise the 2010s’ in films so far, it would be the decade of re-makes and re-boots for sure and in an age of sequels, increasingly frequent re-makes of films, the franchise reigns king and so do comic book movies which are seriously raking in the cash these days. And the trend seems to be set to continue, 2016 will have a plethora of comic book movies and some continuations in existing franchises, Captain America, X-Men, as well as some new ones established in Suicide Squad, Batman Vs Superman.

Trailers this week: Straight Outta Compton, Hitman Agent 47, Insurgent

So the trailer for Straight Outta Compton, from Universal Pictures dropped yesterday, charting the origins, rise and popularity of the hip hop group NWA in what many see as the golden age of Hip Hop in the 80s. The members of the NWA included Ice Cube, Dr Yella, Eazy E, MC Ren and Dr Dre, some of whom are hugely respected and influential members of hip hop even today, the film as you can see from the trailer is fairly action packed.

Set against the backdrop of a turbulent, angry L.A in the mid 80s’, awash with the L.A. riots and un-easy tension between some of the populace and the police. I have to say it actually looks pretty good, with Dr Dre and Ice Cube themselves having worked on the film, we should get an interesting insight into the origins of the NWA and see things from the perspective of the group. A group known for its’ controversial lyrics and open hatred of the police, it’s an interesting time for this film to be coming out with so much tension and controversy with civilians and the police in recent months in America.

It’s a bit of an understatement to say the NWA were influential for rap and the 80s’ in general was a hugely iconic and memorable era for music, rap especially, so a film looking back at that pivotal time in the history of hip hop should be pretty cool.

Straight Outta Compton is set for release on the 1st of August.

The Hitman Agent 47 trailer also dropped recently, another imagining of the Hitman game franchise on the big screen, starring Rupert Friend, Zachary Quinto, Hannah Ware.

Everyones’ favourite bald headed, barcoded assassin is back and looking slick and cold as usual, the film looks very action packed as is to be expected and Rupert Friend seems to have nailed Agent 47s’ tone and speech and he wields dual desert eagles in one scene, the image that has come to be associated with Agent 47. Also cool was seeing the Agent disguise as one of the prison guards after he broke out of his holding cell, as cool as all the fighting and shootouts are, being an assassin does require stealth, intelligence and an occasional disguise as you’ll know if you’ve played Hitman. But that being said, Rupert Friends’ Agent 47 doesn’t seem to be overly concerned with stealth and the action set pieces in the trailer look quite lively.

The synopsis details Agent 47, identified by the two digits on the barcode on his neck – going on a mission to stop a corporation from exploiting the technology it used to engineer him, to go on to make an army of super killers, meanwhile Zachary Quintos’ character seems set on stopping him.

The trailer ends with a pretty insane crashing a helicopter into a skyscraper scene and yeah, the film looks pretty cool and may be one of the better action films out this year.

Set for release on the 28th of August.

Pitch Perfect 2 also dropped a trailer this week, follow up to the first successful musical comedy/drama, following an aspiring group of female performers aiming to be singing champions. Pitch Perfect was something of a runaway hit and it’s sort of like a cool, un-cheesy High School Musical but in college and with more believable characters, anyway the sequel looks fairly entertaining so far

As the Bellas are together and set to take on more talented singing groups to try and become world champion, starring Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Elizabeth Banks, Brittany Snow and set for release on the 15th of May.

Also out recently was a new trailer for Insurgent, sequel to Divergent in the Divergent trilogy, featuring Tris continuing to conquer her fear and become a symbol of hope and freedom, as she and Four stay on the run from Jeanine Matthews, who is hunting them down as they’re now Divergents (not belonging to any faction).

The film looks great visually and already quite a bit better than Divergent in my opinion as Tris will uncover more secrets about the seemingly perfect society she lives in and faces new, dangerous challenges along the way. I’ve also not read the books in any real capacity, I have Divergent but not the other 2, so I like the idea of going into the next 2 films not knowing what happens.

Insurgent is released on the 20th of March.

Spiderman coming back to Marvel

Just swingin into the MCU

 

*Round of applause* We did it people… well we didn’t really do anything apart from willing it to happen but wow it’s just happened, Spiderman is back for Marvel in a deal struck between Sony Pictures and Marvel, Sony keeps the rights to the character but will loan him out to Marvel. Which of course means he’s open to appearing in the MCU, which is great news for Marvel fans everywhere with one of its’ most prominent and popular characters now free to appear in some of its’ movies.

Another thing interesting to note is that the deal could provide a way for MCU characters to star in future Spiderman films as well, something potentially very cool.

Also Andrew Garfield has been confirmed to not be reprising his rather good portrayal as Spidey/Peter Parker which is a shame but all the same this news is pretty huge, something many people thought wouldn’t happen for a while but it has finally. In immediate effect of this, Spiderman can star in Captain America 3: Civil War, playing a role he was pretty key in, in the comics and further on, maybe Marvel try and feature him in another movie of theirs? And now will Sony move on with their current Spiderman established universe with a different actor playing Peter Parker? Rather than giving us all a new origin story that we don’t really need.

So many questions and so many further questions, who will play Spidey in said Marvel cameo, will that same actor play Spidey in Captain America 3 and the next Spiderman film (slated for a July 2017 release)? Does this news affect Sonys’ plans for the Sinister Six and Venom movies? What finally pushed Sony and Marvel to agree to a deal?

While it’s good news, it’s odd to think that Marvel has to get a deal to use one of its’ own characters in its’ films, but legal issues, film rights and other complications, what can you do.