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All my problems with The Last Jedi

by on Jan.01, 2018, under Movies

So, I promised a bit of a review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and it would be impossible to talk about it at the level I want without spoilers, so be forewarned…SPOILERS AHEAD!

Before getting there, some spoiler-free notes. Despite what I am going to say below, I thought it was a great film. Visually stunning and with superb audio, it kept you riveted. I love when a story delves into its own mythology, which we get a bit of here with the Jedi. I think overall the story was solid, although how it got there had a number of issues.

So let’s get started…
(continue reading…)


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TidBits: Star Wars, Jumanji weekend takes; Star Trek writer; passing of Heather Menzies-Urich

by on Dec.26, 2017, under General News, Movies, Television

It’s time to come out of our holiday-induced coma and get caught up on the news, so here is some rapidfire TidBits…

Sadly, we have learned that actress Heather Menzies-Urich, wife of late actor Robert Urich and best known as Louisa in The Sound Of Music, passed away on December 24th at the age of 68. Obscure SF TV fans may also known her for playing Jessica in the TV series version of Logan’s Run.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi added another $99 million over the holiday weekend, although analysts expected more from the weekend. Fans seem to be greatly debating the merits of the movie…from our point of view it was a good movie but with a slew of technical problems. Expect a spoiler-laden review later this week.

In the meantime, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle appeared to get a big turnout from holiday audiences looking for something lighthearted, getting $72m since the Wednesday open and including $2m from the Amazon Prime Members preview earlier in the month. It’s definitely a good movie for audiences looking for a laugh. The Greatest Showman, which appears to be fighting critical reviews as well as the competition, only made $19m for the same six days, but we think is a great musical film with several Oscar-worthy songs.

Lastly, Quentin Taranino’s R-rated Star Trek has named a writer – The Revenant‘s Mark L. Smith.


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Star Wars: The Last Jedi breaks $500m worldwide in first week

by on Dec.20, 2017, under Movies

Disney/Lucasfilm sure appears to be exercising their force powers on the moviegoing audience…the latest installment in the franchise crossed $500 million worldwide. The domestic tally beat $250 million as of today, adding $21.8 million Monday, $20.4 million Tuesday and looking at at least $17 million today as fans get second and in some cases third viewings in.


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The universe shakes as Disney acquires parts of Fox

by on Dec.16, 2017, under Movies, Television

You may have heard about this tiny little deal in the entertainment world…Disney has agreed to purchase assets from 21st Century Fox, including Fox Studios, in a deal worth over $54 billion! Disney gets all of the film and television assets except the broadcast network (they already own ABC), sports and news divisions, which will be retained by Fox. Although this doesn’t include the broadcast network, it seems to leave the network without a TV production studio as a sibling, which the other major networks have.

Disney will also get the rights to all the upcoming Avatar movies, which isn’t surprising since the Mouse House has already incorporated the franchise into its Animal Kingdom theme park.

But one of the biggest ramifications everyone has been talking about is what it means for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Fox has owned the rights to the X-Men for some time, which as a result has left the X-Men out of the MCU, even for cameos. In fact, we ended up with two different versions of Quicksilver. In fact, both Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch where at the center of a battle between the two studios – Fox claimed they were part of the X-Men universe, while Disney wanted to use them in the Avengers. The studios came to an agreement to allow both to use the characters, so long as neither mentioned the other in either way. Fox never used Scarlet Witch, but Quicksilver first appeared in X-Men: Days of Future Past, and then in his MCU version in Avengers: Age of Ultron alongside Scarlet Witch.

Now with the acquisition, that line gets blurred and the X-Men could easily be included in the MCU going forward, if so desired. In fact, Hugh Jackman, who said he was retiring from playing Wolverine after Logan, left the door open if he could appear in an Avengers movie. So maybe Wolverine isn’t quite done yet.

Another Marvel rights property related to the acquisition is the Fantastic Four, but the rights issues are a little murkier. Fox did not own them outright but rather were in a partnership with the original optioner, Constantin Films. The rights and productions have an interesting history on its own, but rather than regurgitate it here Screen Rant has an excellent write-up. So the status of that property is perhaps less clear, although Disney mentioned them in their press release:

Combining with Disney are 21st Century Fox’s critically acclaimed film production businesses, including Twentieth Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures and Fox 2000, which together offer diverse and compelling storytelling businesses and are the homes of Avatar, X-Men, Fantastic Four and Deadpool, as well as The Grand Budapest Hotel, Hidden Figures, Gone Girl, The Shape of Water and The Martian—and its storied television creative units, Twentieth Century Fox Television, FX Productions and Fox21, which have brought The Americans, This Is Us, Modern Family, The Simpsons and so many more hit TV series to viewers across the globe. Disney will also acquire FX Networks, National Geographic Partners, Fox Sports Regional Networks, Fox Networks Group International, Star India and Fox’s interests in Hulu, Sky plc, Tata Sky and Endemol Shine Group.

So Disney at least believes they are back in the fold.

Oh, and what of Deadpool, the R-rated superhero? Disney isn’t known for going after the R-rated audience, but Deadpool broke all the rules and was a massive success. Well, Disney CEO Bob Iger mentioned that specifically while addressing shareholders: “[Deadpool] clearly has been and will be Marvel branded. But we think there might be an opportunity for a Marvel-R brand for something like Deadpool. As long as we let the audiences know what’s coming, we think we can manage that fine.”

So there you have it. It might be a while before we see the rewards on screen, but I think I can hear the gears of MCU master Kevin Feige’s brain turning now…


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Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle: An actually enjoyable movie?!?

by on Dec.10, 2017, under Movies

The Cast of JumanjiColor me surprised…if you are looking for a movie to see other than Star Wars: The Last Jedi before the end of the year, you should consider Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. It was a very enjoyable, laugh out loud funny film. And I didn’t expect that at all.

What did I expect? Ever since it was announced with the cast, I was thinking it would be worth watching maybe when it came to cable. Not because I didn’t like the cast – I’ve enjoyed watching Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in most everything, and of course there’s Karen Gillan, and throw in the comedic talents of Jack Black and Kevin Hart – but it was going to be a sequel to the original Jumanji film that starred the late Robin Williams, and I couldn’t see how anyone could do a film in the style of Robin Williams without him. But I was able to attend an advanced screening of the movie (a rare thing since I don’t live anywhere near where movies traditionally premiere), and what I saw was a different style of film that paid tribute to the original and Williams himself, but stood on its own playing on the different strengths of the cast members.

Quick plot description – these are not spoilers of you’ve seen the trailers…in 1996, there is another disappearance in the town of Bratford. A teenager found a copy of Jumanji, but it transforms itself into a video game cartridge, which he begins to play and disappears.

20 years later, four high school teens (of a somewhat stereotypical “Breakfast Club” group – a nerd, a jock, a hot girl, and an awkward girl) while serving detention come across a game console with the Jumanji cartridge still in it, and turn it on. They select their game characters (of generally opposite characteristics to themselves), and are transported into the game and into their chosen characters. They then must figure out and win the game – before they run out of lives.

The plot itself was generally predictable, as was some of the dialog. However, it was the execution that really made this movie good. It was the actors, playing video game characters that you could see each playing, but playing them as the complete opposite – Johnson playing a geek playing the strong, smouldering hero-type, Gillan playing an awkward girl playing the Tomb Raider-esque martial artist, Hart playing the jock playing the hero’s valet, and Black playing the hot girl playing the (male) archaeologist – is what really made this movie. Of course, that last part also allowed for some humorous dialog revolving around the male anatomy, but it IS rated PG-13.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle opens Wednesday, December 20th – just 5 days after Star Wars: The Last Jedi. So to help you recover from the shock of that movie, catch this film to pick you back up.


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HotShot Trailer: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom “Blue’s Baby”

by on Dec.07, 2017, under Movies

The first full trailer for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom has just been release!

It’s been four years since theme park and luxury resort Jurassic World was destroyed by dinosaurs out of containment. Isla Nublar now sits abandoned by humans while the surviving dinosaurs fend for themselves in the jungles.

When the island’s dormant volcano begins roaring to life, Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) mount a campaign to rescue the remaining dinosaurs from this extinction-level event. Owen is driven to find Blue, his lead raptor who’s still missing in the wild, and Claire has grown a respect for these creatures she now makes her mission. Arriving on the unstable island as lava begins raining down, their expedition uncovers a conspiracy that could return our entire planet to a perilous order not seen since prehistoric times.

With all of the wonder, adventure and thrills synonymous with one of the most popular and successful series in cinema history, this all-new motion-picture event sees the return of favorite characters and dinosaurs—along with new breeds more awe-inspiring and terrifying than ever before. Welcome to Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.

Stars Pratt and Howard return alongside executive producers Steven Spielberg and Colin Trevorrow for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. They are joined by co-stars James Cromwell, Ted Levine, Justice Smith, Geraldine Chaplin, Daniella Pineda, Toby Jones, Rafe Spall and Isabella Sermon, while BD Wong and Jeff Goldblum reprise their roles.

Directed by J.A. Bayona (The Impossible), the epic action-adventure is written by Jurassic World’s director, Trevorrow, and its co-writer, Derek Connolly. Producers Frank Marshall and Pat Crowley once again partner with Spielberg and Trevorrow in leading the filmmakers for this stunning installment. Belén Atienza joins the team as a producer.

In Theaters June 22, 2018.


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Tarantino’s Star Trek to aim for R rating?

by on Dec.07, 2017, under Movies

Updating a previous report about Quentin Tarantino wanting to direct the next Star Trek film, it appears that this is on a fast track – and that in Tarantino fashion he wants an R-rated film, with J.J. Abrams and Paramount agreeing.

Typical tentpole films try to maximize their audience with no higher than a PG-13 rating, but 2016’s Deadpool blew the doors off perceived limitations of the rating. And while an R rating would allow the franchise to go “where no one has gone before”, it also could be a dangerous move for a beloved franchise that has typically been more family-friendly. I don’t know if this could end up limiting the audience, or blurring the lines of the R rating itself where parents risk taking kids to the film in order to not miss a piece of the franchise.


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TidBits: Tarantino wants the captain’s chair for Star Trek; Disney hits $5B; Stranger Things readies round 3; American Gods duo leaves

by on Dec.04, 2017, under Movies, Television

Time to get caught up after a very busy weekend capping off a few busy weeks around here with school productions…so some tidbits from the past several days…

Director Quentin Tarantino has an idea for the next Star Trek movie…we don’t know what it is, but according to Deadline J.J. Abrams thinks enough of the idea to pull together a writers room to discuss and develop a script. Tarantino typically operates with free reign over his original movies, where a franchise like this might present challenges, so we’ll see how this shapes up.

Disney has blasted the $5 billion worldwide barrier for a record third time this year, following Thor’s Hammer smashing through box offices all over. Thor: Ragnarok has crossed $800 million alone.

The kids from Stranger Things will be back as Netflix picked up a third season of the hit thriller series. No word on what 80s iconic properties might show up this time around.

Michael Green and Bryan Fuller have abruptly left the production of the second season of Starz’ American Gods series. The two brought Neil Gaiman’s novel to the small screen and acted as executive producers/showrunners. No reason so far as been given for the departure, but rumors are that budget cuts were being imposed by FremantleMedia North America’s new head of scripted programming, Dante di Loreto.


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HotShot Trailer: Avengers: Infinity War trailer

by on Nov.29, 2017, under Movies

You’ve seen this already, haven’t you? No? Well, now you can…Avengers: Infinity War is in theaters May 4th


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TidBits: Star Wars: The Last Jedi tracks for huge opening; Denis Villeneuve wants to revisit Dune; Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom tease

by on Nov.25, 2017, under Movies

Some holiday weekend TidBits…

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is hitting all the tracking target with hyperspace speeds, and word on the street is that a $200 million opening weekend is possible…and check out this 30 second spot, “Tempt”…

On the other side of the SF franchise universe, one which has been spoken of for decades, Dune is making rumblings again, this time from Oscar-nominated director Denis Villeneuve himself. In a Deadline Hollywood interview mostly about Blade Runner 2049, at the end he mentions how much he loved the book and wants to bring a new adaptation to the big screen. He mentions the 1984 David Lynch movie, but says it didn’t match his own vision of one of his favorite books, and he’d like to bring that vision to the big screen.

And lastly, this past week director Colin Trevorrow gave us a tease of the upcoming Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – a six second video showing Owen Brady (Chris Pratt) getting chummy with a baby Velociraptor…apparently he’s gotten over what happened with them last time…


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