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Movies

Ready Player One: Pure nostalgic entertainment

by on Jul.18, 2018, under Movies, Video/DVD

Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One heads to Blu-ray and DVD next Tuesday (available on streaming/digital services now), based on Ernest Cline’s novel of the same name, and this is going to be a must-have for anyone who has grown up in the video game culture that started in the 70s with the original Atari Video Computer System (a.k.a. Atari 2600) – which, by the way, figures prominently in the movie…

Despite the era of nostalgia, the movie itself is set in the near future, after events have resulted in many locations becoming slums. To escape, almost everyone takes part in a massively multiplayer virtual reality environment called OASIS, co-created by James Halliday (Mark Rylance) and Ogden Morrow (Simon Pegg). Many take the game VERY seriously – losing in the game results in losing their in-game characters, called being “zeroed out” and leads to suicides in some cases. People spend a lot of real money to enhance their in-game experience, such as full-body feedback outfits, 360-degree treadmills, etc.

When Halliday passes away (Morrow left the company), he wills control of OASIS to be given to the one who finds an in-game Easter Egg, which can only be obtained by completing three different game quests to obtain one of three different keys. Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan, X-Men: Apocalypse), a 17-year-old orphan living with his aunt in the “Stacks”, shoddily-built vertical trailer parks, known in OASIS as Parzival, teams up with his on-line friend Aech (Lena Waithe, Master of None) to take on the first quest, a race through a city with many obstacles, to find the key before other “gunters” – easter egg hunters – find it first, including an army of players from the Innovative Online Industries (IOI), a corporation who wants to take over the OASIS and use it to sell marketing to the players, and will stop at nothing to do so. He also befriends Art3mis (Olivia Cooke, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl), a famous gunter, along with Sho (Philip Zhao) and Daito (Win Morisaki), to form the “High Five” and team up in the quests.

Also appearing (at least in voice) are T.J. Miller (Deadpool), who’s voice provides a nice counter to the apparent rugged bounty hunter person of i-R0k; Ben Mendelsohn (Animal Kingdom) as Nolan Sorrento, the CEO of IOI; and Hannah John-Kamen (Killjoys, Ant-Man and the Wasp) as F’Nale Zandor, a real-world IOI operative hunting down the High Five.

While the plot is somewhat basic and predictable, it’s the visuals and references that are really interesting. I at first thought that this was going to be too CGI-centric and a distraction, but after a bit it felt natural in a weird way. And there are some stunning recreations, like the parts from The Shining). But what really hooked me was all the little things, both overt and background, that referenced the things we grew up with. From the many characters that can be seen in the background to the appearance of the Iron Giant (although, as some point out, misused), to the various Atari games and more. There are so many it will take multiple viewings to spot many of them – finding easter eggs in a movie about finding easter eggs!!! I saw a Colecovision towards the end…and I want Halliday’s t-shirts!

If you are particularly interested in motion-capture acting as well, check out the special features to see how a lot of it was done – there is just as much live acting, if not more!

Overall, it was a very enjoyable movie with some laugh-out-loud moments and plenty of “did-you-see-that”s as well!


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Timothee Chalamet may take on Paul Atreides in Denis Villenueve’s Dune

by on Jul.16, 2018, under Movies

We haven’t heard anything since November, and we figured it would languish in development for a while, but it appears that Denis Villenueve’s Dune is moving forward faster than we expected, with Oscar-nominee Timothee Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name, Lady Bird) in negotiations to star.

Vellenueve (Blade Runner 2049, Arrival) took on the project after Legendary acquired the film and TV rights in 2016, and has always had his own vision of the film since reading the books. Oscar winner Eric Roth (Forrest Gump, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) penned the script.


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Star Wars: Billy Dee Williams is in; anthologies not dead yet?

by on Jul.11, 2018, under Movies

First, the exciting news – according to sources close to the production say Billy Dee Williams will appear as Lando Calrissian in the final Star Wars saga film. Rumors on this really heated up last week when Williams canceled a September convention appearance in Canada due to a “film schedule conflict”, which everyone immediately believed to be Episode IX. Some suave is coming!

In the meantime, on life beyond IX, things may not be quite as dire for the anthology films as first thought. According to the Belfast Telegraph, the Game of Thrones prequel series will be filmed at the Paint Hall studios in Belfast – AFTER the next installment of Syfy’s Krypton and, apparently, the Obi-Wan film in April 2019. This may not mean much, only that studio space is still booked, but it is at least a positive sign.

Perhaps at the other end of the hope spectrum, James Mangold responses to a tweet about his supposed involvement in the Boba Fett movie:

So it appears that the film lacks a director still – which makes me wonder about when these films might get released or it what order – but Disney does not have any Star Wars films on the docket for the next couple years at present after IX.


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Harry Potter takes over SYFY and USA Network this weekend!

by on Jul.09, 2018, under Books, Movies, Television

Stoking the fiery passion of fans all across the Wizarding World, SYFY and USA Network will transport viewers to Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry like never before with a multi-platform exploration of all facets of the Wizarding World films.

Beginning with the simulcast of the HARRY POTTER WIZARDING WEEKEND from July 13-15, 2018, both networks become the new U.S. television homes of the entire Wizarding World franchise library in a previously announced deal with Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution extending through April 2025. All eight Harry Potter movies – as well as the Fantastic Beasts films slated to begin in 2019, 2021 and 2023 – will air in HD with limited commercial interruption as the networks commemorate 20 years of Harry Potter fandom. The first six films will be extended director’s cut versions. Beyond the HARRY POTTER WIZARDING WEEKEND, SYFY and USA have also programmed monthly stunts including BACK TO HOGWARTS MARATHON, DARK ARTS MARATHON, WIZARDING WORLD WEEK and a special CHRISTMAS MARATHON.

SYFY and USA will be supporting the celebration as the biggest acquisition launch in both networks’ history with marketing, promotion, digital and social campaigns. In addition, special content and promotions with Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood, both home to the incredibly themed lands of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, are now available where guests can enjoy fully immersive entertainment experiences based on the Harry Potter series. In all, the campaign will be bigger than the Quidditch World Cup itself!

“Whether they’re superfans who live and breathe Harry Potter or a new generation yet to discover the franchise, we’re giving fans of all kinds an entirely new way to experience the magic of The Wizarding World on television,” noted Chris McCumber, President, Entertainment Networks for NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment. “With SYFY, we’re inviting fans to really ‘geek out’ and go deep into their passion and knowledge. And at USA, we’ll be able to fire up a bigger, broader audience with massive scale to introduce a whole new legion of fans.”

“Both networks will have a unique but complementary Wizarding World look and feel for the fans as we create moments and events throughout the year – on-air, online, off-the-screen, on social or at SYFY WIRE – that infuse a wonderful wizarding ethos into our collective creative brands,” added Alexandra Shapiro, Executive Vice President, Marketing & Digital, USA Network & SYFY. “And the biggest moments will always make sure fans are front and center.”

SYFY and USA will present a new viewing experience for fans of the films. The custom design packaged on-air and online will include IDs and bugs supported with hours of new footage delving deeper into the mythology of Harry Potter, trivia and fun facts to test even the most advanced wizard’s acumen, behind-the-scenes footage and fresh interviews with cast members and production crew dishing on their favorite moments, including:

· Eddie Redmayne (as Newt Scamander from Fantastic Beasts)

· James and Oliver Phelps (as Fred and George Weasley)

· Stanislav Ianevski (as Viktor Krum)

· Jany Temime, Costume Designer

· John Richardson, Special Events Supervisor

· Paul Harris, Wand Choreographer

· Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima, Graphic Designers

Also included in the on-air campaign will be special footage, including an exclusive behind-the-scenes studio tour from Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter – and fan testimonials from San Diego Comic-Con and and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort, including A Celebration of Harry Potter. Keen observers will also spot some familiar fan faces from the SYFY and USA channels.


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Ant-Man and the Wasp: A Fun Time in a Cloudy Universe

by on Jul.08, 2018, under Movies

The latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe provides a breath of fresh air, sunshine and humor in the midst of its darkest time. Ant-Man and the Wasp continues with the precedent set by Ant-Man – a superhero movie set with humor. Whereas the other movies would often include humorous lines here and there, here the premise incorporates the fact that the protagonist is inept but good-hearted, surrounded by ultra-smart people whose technobabble is way over his head. Paul Rudd continues his perfect portrayal as Scott Lang/Ant-Man, again joined by Michael Douglas as Hank Pym, Evangeline Lilly as Hope Van Dyne, and Michael Peña as Luis. Joining the ranks this time are Laurence Fishburne as Dr. Bill Foster, a former colleague of Dr. Pym, and Killjoys‘ Hannah John-Kamen as Ava.

I’m going to say this right now – every Marvel movie should have Michael Peña’s Luis do all the catch-up exposition.

I won’t get too much into the plot as I hate to give any spoilers, but at least to answer the pressing question as to what happened to Ant-Man during Infinity War – he’s been under house arrest since the events of Captain America: Civil War, having reached a plea deal for having violated the Sokovia Accords, and is about to be released after his two-year sentence, during which he has had no contact with Pym or Hope, who are in hiding. But a vision that Scott has indicates that it might be possible that Janet Van Dyne – Hank’s wife and Hope’s mother, may still be alive.

Hannah John-Kamen’s Ava provides a new character that takes the story’s conflict in a new dimension, and her portrayal is perfect – I look forward to seeing her in future movies.


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Future Star Wars anthology movies possibly on hold

by on Jun.24, 2018, under Movies

After the undeserved poor box office performance for Solo: A Star Wars Story, further “Story” films in the franchise are reportedly on hold, while Disney and Lucasfilm focus on Episode IX – but the exact state of things is unclear.

The previously announced “Boba Fett” movie may still be moving but is likely to get retooled for a smaller budget. The rumored “Obi-Wan Kenobi” movie was still looking for a director but that film could be a longshot now.

It seems that the announced new trilogies from Rian Johnson and the team of David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are still in development, as is the live-action TV series from Jon Favreau.

It is a shame that this movie is being seen as a failure. It’s really only 20% behind that of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story at the four week international box office, but it also was the most expensive film in the franchise, topping A Force Awakens with a reported budget over $250 million. It had an uphill battle as well, facing production issues while resulted in the replacement of the directors and reshoots, as well as a so-called “fan” boycott over the perceived quality of The Last Jedi. It was also the first attempt at visiting the backstory of a well known and loved character, which can be a treacherous place with fandom who come with their own preconceived imaginations of their stories and don’t want anything that can alter their pristine images. Rogue One focused on all-new characters and only dwelt in the grey areas of the known story. Alas, it means we may never see the resolution of the surprise at the end…at least in this form.


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Incredibles 2 breaks animation records; Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom looks towards big opening

by on Jun.20, 2018, under Movies

Disney/Pixar’s Incredibles 2, a sequel that took 14 years to make (and even references that in a short teaser) seems to have been worth the wait…it broken the records for a weekend opening for an animated film and a PG-rated film this past weekend, with a $183 million domestic gross, which lands it 8th all-time. And it wasn’t done there – it took in an additional $28.3 million just for Monday, another animated record and the second best Monday in June ever, behind Jurassic World. The movie is an excellent, fun continuation of the story of a family of Supers, who are outlawed due to the damage often surrounding their heroics – but it may be time for Supers to be legal again.

Speaking of Jurassic World, its own sequel, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is tracking for a $135-165 million opening weekend on what is looking like a busy weekend.


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TidBits: Lots of stuff to catch up on…

by on Jun.12, 2018, under Movies, Television

I am so sorry for the lack of updates lately. The last few weeks has been CRAZY. My oldest daughter graduated high school, and my youngest had her middle school play – we are heavily involved in the drama programs with both kids, and I emcee the annual high school drama banquet, which was a few weeks ago as well. And that’s on top of “normal life” – so it’s been tough trying to follow all the news – we’re very behind in all our RV shows as well, and I owe a friend a book review as well…but anyways, here is a rapid recap of the last week or so…

HBO has given a pilot order for one of five the potential Game Of Thrones spinoffs, this one for a prequel series set in the “golden age of Heroes”, which “descends into its darkest hour”, where we will learn about the white walkers, the Starks of legend, and more. Given it was just announced, there is no director, cast, etc. yet but it comes from Jane Goldman (Kick-Ass, Kingsman) and George R.R. Martin, with Goldman acting as showrunner. Martin said on his blog he currently prefers the title “The Long Night”, but that isn’t definite yet. Martin also said that one of the other four ideas for spinoffs has been shelved, but the other three are still possible.

As for that other fantasy mega-franchise, Amazon appears to be banking on its deal for the Lord of the Rings franchise, having cleared a lots of its shows off the slate. The head of Amazon Studios Jennifer Salke said in a Deadline interview that they aren’t going to try and compete at the volume level with Netflix, adding, “You can’t go big and go irrelevant.” While there is little to go on, they are currently only working on one series – “one big series,” and that while it isn’t remaking the movies, it will involve “it’ll be characters you love.”

Speaking of Salke and Amazon, she also addressed the idea of Amazon Studios picking up the canceled Lucifer. “I know that international, especially the UK group, was really bullish on that show, I haven’t checked in on that today (Thursday), but I heard conversations were ongoing on that yesterday.” So, keep heart, fans. Amazon recently rescued The Expanse after Syfy canceled the show, just as it was heading into the next phase of the story.

As for Amazon’s cross-net rivals, Netflix has given a 10-episode order for Away, about an international crew on a treacherous year-long mission to Mars, from Andrew Hinderaker (Penny Dreadful), Jason Katims (Parenthood) and Matt Reeves (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes). It centers on an American astronaut who leaves behind a husband and daughter to lead the crew in a story of hope and humanity.

The upcoming BBC series His Dark Materials based on the novels of Philip Pullman has some cast…James McAvoy (the X-Men franchise) will play Lord Asriel, the father of the primary character Lyra (Dafne Keen, Logan), who discovers a way to parallel worlds. Clarke Peters (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) plays the master who raises Lyra. Ruth Wilson (The Affair) will play Marisa Coulter, Asrael’s former lover and appears to want Lyra for a mysterious purpose. Earlier this year, Lin-Manuel Miranda (Mary Poppins Returns) was announced to play Lee Scoresby, an “aeronaut” who helps Lyra. Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) will direct.

I haven’t mentioned Marvel at all yet, have I? Well, Avengers: Infinity War became just the fourth movie to cross the $2 billion international box office mark, after Avatar, Titanic and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And it is still holding strong at the box office. On Marvel’s small screen, Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger became Freeform’s biggest new series in two years, with an L+3 of 1.64 million, which also put it as the most watched telecast on the network in nearly a year.

And finally, we don’t talk much about MTV, but while the network might not be returning to its real roots in music, it may return to its past – a live action version of Aeon Flux, the sci-fi series that started as a series of shorts on the network’s Liquid Television block of trippy animated series. THe show was previously turned into a live action feature starring Charlize Theron as the tightly-clad assassin n 2005, but the movie flopped. Jeff Davis (Teen Wolf) and Gale Anne Hurd (The Walking Dead) are set to produce, with Davis writing.


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HotShot Trailer: Bumblebee

by on Jun.06, 2018, under Movies

Both this Transformers spinoff movie…and Bumblebee’s body style…are set in 1987…I wonder how they upgrade their bodies?


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HotShot Trailer: Mortal Engines

by on Jun.06, 2018, under Movies

Peter Jackson released the first trailer for the upcoming Mortal Engines – check it out!


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