CHICAGO – The legacy of the classic Chicago storefront theater has been celebrated at the Mary-Arrchie Theater Company for over 30 years, so for their final piece of stage craft they’re going out with a proper and gritty production bang, “American Buffalo,” by David Mamet.
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There are a slew of incredible LEGO Star Wars sets out there, but for some reason The Empire Strikes Back hasn’t really properly been given its due diligence in building brick form. Specifically, with the exception of a Snowspeeder and AT-AT, the playsets recreating scenes from the opening battle on Hoth have been lackluster at best. But that changes this spring with a new Echo Base LEGO set that is nearly everything you ever wanted from a LEGO Hoth playset. See more photos below.
Here’s some shots of the LEGO Hoth playset straight from the LEGO Facebook page:
What’s really cool about this set is that it’s designed in such a way that you can piece together the separate chunks of the set however you see fit. The Rebel turrets can be moved around, you can put the ion cannon right next to the shield generator, and the interiors of the base can be moved around in the same way.
In addition, besides the 2,144 pieces that make up this set, you’ll also get no less than 14 minifugres, some of which bring some obscure characters to LEGO for the first time. For example, there’s a figure for Toryn Farr, who operates the ion cannon, Wedge Antilles, and Major Bren Derlin, the Hoth officer played by Pixar good luck charm John Ratzenberger. And of course there’s Luke Skywalker and Han Solo in Hoth gear, along with a Tauntaun, a Wampa and his cave. Though sadly there isn’t one that you can fit Luke inside of.
This set really does seem to have everything, but I can’t help but wish it had a couple more items. Including an AT-ST with the set would have been cool (an AT-AT would have been too much, even though the individual set of the Imperial walker has been retired now). And I can’t believe there isn’t a bacta tank to put Luke inside of inside the base. But perhaps the most egregious exclusion is Leia in Hoth gear. That just doesn’t make sense.
The reveal of the playset comes as Toy Fair 2016 is unveiling a bunch of new goodies for fans of anything and everything. The good news is you won’t have long to wait to get your hands on this set because LEGO will release it in April. But it will set you back a pretty penny because it’s going to cost $250. So save your money, and may the Force be with you.
The post Cool Stuff: We’re Finally Getting the LEGO Hoth Playset ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ Deserves appeared first on /Film.
Even though the David Gordon Green comedy The Sitter was basically a raunchy, darker version of Adventures in Babysitting, the family comedy favorite from 1987 is getting a more official remake by way of The Disney Channel. This time instead of one babysitter played by Elisabeth Shue forced to take some kids out for a night in the scary city of Chicago in order to save a stranded friend, there are two babysitters with a different problem.
This time Disney Channel has two of their own stars, Sabrina Carpenter of Girl Meets World and Sofia Carson of The Descendants, leading the movie as two babysitters who have lost one of the kids they’re supposed to be watching. The first Adventures in Babysitting trailer has just arrived, and it’s about what you would expect from Disney Channel, for better or worse.
Here’s the first Adventures in Babysitting trailer from Disney Channel:
If it’s been awhile, you may not notice that there are some clear homages to the original movie. From that shot of Sofia Carson sitting on the couch when the parents come home to Sabrina Carpenter’s coat being rather similar to the same one that Elisabeth Shue wore in the original. There’s also the much more tame version of the line “Don’t fuck with the babysitter.” And it’s cool to see that they figured out a way to reference the blues club scene from the first movie, but updated it with a rap battle between the two babysitters. Like I said, it’s exactly what you would expect from Disney Channel.
There’s plenty of changes to be found as well with four kids (Nikki Hahn, Mallory James Mahoney, Madison Horcher and Jet Jurgensmeyer) instead of three this time, all with different personalities and quirks. Plus who knows what’s up with that supposedly rare ferret. In addition, the bad guys in pursuit of the babysitters and the kids do seem to be a little more tame and silly, in Home Alone fashion, than the dangerous criminals Chris Columbus had in his movie.
In Adventures in Babysitting, a dull evening for two competing babysitters, Jenny (Sabrina Carpenter) and Lola (Sofia Carson), turns into an adventure in the big city as they hunt for one of the kids who somehow snuck away. Written by Tiffany Paulsen (“Nancy Drew), it will be directed by John Schultz (Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer, Like Mike) and executive-produced by Michelle Manning (Teen Beach 2, The Breakfast Club).
Disney Channel hasn’t announced a release date, but Adventures in Babysitting premieres sometimes this summer.
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Midnight Special and Loving topped my most anticipated of 2016 list. Two movies in one year from writer-director Jeff Nichols is one sweet deal. Nichols’ last film, Mud, struck a chord with audiences, earning over $20M at the box-office, but it’s the director’s next picture, Midnight Special, that might be his big hit.
After premiering at the Berlin Film Festival, the Midnight Special early buzz is mostly positive for this old school sci-fi road movie. Find out what some of the reviews have to say below.
Most of the critics say it’s best to go into Midnight Special blind, but it still feels like a few of them reveal too much about the plot. The trailer had an air of mystery about it, and it might be best to preserve it. I recommend mostly sticking with these blurbs, if you want to see Nichols’ film knowing as little as possible going in.
Serving up hefty human insight in place of third-act gimmickry, and reuniting him with “Take Shelter” star Michael Shannon, Nichols’ impressively restrained yet limitlessly imaginative fourth feature takes its energy from an ensemble of characters who hold fast to their convictions, even though their beliefs remain shrouded in mystery for much of the journey.
The less audiences know going in, the better, though that could backfire on a movie without a big enough star to attract the crowds it would need to inspire a word-of-mouth following. With only a TV orange alert by way of exposition, “Midnight Special” relies on the ability of an intelligent audience to make sense of what is happening, understanding that even writer-director Nichols probably doesn’t have an explanation for everything.
Perhaps there was a great film in there. On a relatively low budget, Nichols — along with his longtime cinematographer Adam Stone — have managed to emulate the texture of the films that Midnight Special so clearly is paying homage to, even if the full-blown quotes sometimes prove clunky. The finely selected ensemble cast is reliably tough as well, particularly Shannon in his go-to “gentle tough guy” role. Nichols’ 2011 film Take Shelter used a similarly minimalist sci-fi setup to focus on a family in crisis, and Special also plants a father-child relationship at its core, and — in credit to Shannon’s dedication — it plays very well.
The problems that weigh down Midnight Special seem rooted almost solely in Nichols’ editing. The director stated that this approach was the “culmination of an experiment of removing as much information as possible, almost to the point of damaging the story.” The evidence suggests he may have passed that line.
Aside from the odd bit of casting news, Midnight Special has been shrouded in secrecy since filming commenced in early 2014, and indeed it is best to go into the film with as little prior knowledge of the plot and characters as possible. If this review is light on spoilers, however, it’s only because attempting to distil the key scenes into a few words would be an utterly futile exercise (a series of exclamatory reaction gifs would be far more illuminating). Nichols is the kind of director who favours the slow burn over the instant payoff, meaning that the high-tension, low-drama manner in which his modern-day parable unfolds makes the third-act fireworks even more dazzling.
With his initial output, from moody drama Shotgun Stories to coming-of-age tale Mud, director Jeff Nichols didn’t initially appear like he belonged in this category. Even in Take Shelter, his more fantastically themed thriller about a man with apocalyptic visions, his style was closer to Terrence Malick than anyone else. His patient direction didn’t mark him out as a future franchise-starter.
But with his new film, he’s making a concerted effort to stake his claim as a hit-maker, a director who can appeal to a wide audience with a timeless adventure. He’s even talked about how it’s essentially a homage to both E.T. and Close Encounters.
Sadly, the Spielbergian magic that Nichols so desperately wants to recreate is almost entirely absent from the end product and without it, there’s something disappointingly lifeless instead.
It’s typical of this director’s withholding style that at one stage we’re fully expecting to hear a gunshot ring out against a nocturnal panorama of city lights, but do not. Without a telltale mobile phone in sight, Midnight Special also conceals for a long time that it’s even set in the present day, restoring the textures of 1970s and 1980s Spielbergiana with beautifully simple images, such as Alton reading comic-books by torchlight on the car’s back seat, or a classroom turned into a makeshift interrogation HQ.
In his fourth feature, Midnight Special, Jeff Nichols pays transporting homage to the rich tradition, spanning the late 1970s through the mid-’80s, of intelligent sci-fi emotionally grounded in relatable human dynamics. There’s an explicit nod, in particular, to John Carpenter’s Starman, echoed even in the enveloping mood of David Wingo’s driving electronic score. But this suspenseful, beautifully acted supernatural thriller is also very much of a piece with Nichols’ overarching thematic concerns and stylistic approach, with notably strong links to another riveting study in fatherhood, family and home, Take Shelter. And like that film, it’s built around a performance of formidable gravitas from Michael Shannon.
But for the vast majority of the runtime, the film we get is masterful in its control. Aided by a thrillingly immersive score from David Wingo, and wonderful twilight/dawn, low-contrast photography from DP Adam Stone, it unfolds with a kind of relentless linearity (once you accept the basic premise, it is remarkably un-twisty in its revelations and reveals). And once again, in constant collaborator Michael Shannon, Nichols finds the perfect engine to power this slender story forward — was ever any actor so able to project an aura of utter conviction, even when faced with the impossibly wrenching eventuality that the only way to save his child might be to let him go?
There are lots and lots of comparisons to Steven Spielberg and John Carpenter in these reviews. That’s not much of a surprise, though, considering Nichols has compared his film to Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Starman. Those are high bars to reach, but the director is capable of delivering a film that lives up to that standard.
Will Midnight Special be Jeff Nichols’ big break? Let’s hope so. Warner Bros. was reportedly interested in him directing Aquaman, but by “big break,” I mean hopefully Nichols keeps making the movies he wants to make, and perhaps some of them on a scale larger than Shotgun Stories or Take Shelter.
Midnight Special opens in theaters March 18th.
The post ‘Midnight Special’ Early Buzz: An Old-School John Carpenter and Spielberg-Esque Road Movie? appeared first on /Film.
Hasbro’s attempts to turn its toys into movies have yielded mixed results. For every Transformers, there’s a Battleship — or worse, a Monopoly, which still hasn’t managed to pass Go despite years of efforts. But there’s a lot riding on My Little Pony, based on one of the hottest properties in its stable. So Hasbro and Lionsgate have enlisted a big-name star to guide the film to success. Fans will get to see Emily Blunt in My Little Pony alongside Kristin Chenoweth.
In addition to Blunt and Chenoweth, My Little Pony will feature the voice cast of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Tara Strong, Ashleigh Ball, Andrea Libman, Tabitha St. Germain, and Cathy Weseluck. The story follows the “Mane 6” (i.e., Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, and Rarity) as they face a new dark force threatening Ponyville. To save their home, they embark on an unforgettable journey beyond Equestria. Deadline reports Blunt and Chenoweth are both voicing new characters, and details on their characters have not been released.
Blunt has shown an admirable willingness to mix things up over the course of her career. She’s lately developed a reputation as an action hero, thanks to films like Sicario and Edge of Tomorrow, but she also does indies (My Sister’s Sister), comedies (The Five-Year Engagement), musicals (Into the Woods), and thrillers (The Girl on the Train). Heck, the last time we saw her, she was dressed up like a “gritty reboot” version of Elsa from Frozen and riding through CG landscapes on a freakin’ polar bear. Why not add a My Little Pony movie to her eclectic resume?
Hasbro first launched its My Little Pony toy line in the 1980s. They were immediately successful, and over the years have spawned multiple animated series, direct-to-video features, video games, comic books, and the like. The Ponies have even hit the big screen once before, in 1986’s My Little Pony: The Movie. Featuring the voices of Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman, it was a critically savaged flop.
While the My Little Pony franchise has never really gone away, it did get a big boost in 2010 with the debut of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. The series was a big hit with its target audience (little kids, especially girls), but it also gave rise to the “brony” fandom consisting of adult male devotees. And because this is the age of the internet, Rule 34, sadly, applies. Make sure your Safe Search is on if you’ve got little kids who might take a deep dive into Google’s “My Little Pony” search results — or, heck, if you’re just an adult who’d rather not have his or her day ruined.
Friendship Is Magic director Jayson Thiessen has taken the reins of the My Little Pony movie, which has a script by Friendship Is Magic writer/producer Meghan McCarthy. Paramount will release My Little Pony on November 3, 2017.
It’s kind of a miracle that Deadpool even exists, after its titular character was nearly ruined by X-Men Origins: Wolverine. But this weekend, fans will finally have another chance to check out this Marvel Comics creation in an incarnation that’s much closer to the spirit of the original character.
Fox basically cut the budget of this film down to the bone, but despite this, I found the film to be a blast. Did it work for you? Was the plot too thin or just right? Did Deadpool’s schtick wear you out? Did the new X-Men characters make an impression?
See my video review after the jump, and this week, you can submit your own using a new video platform called Jogg (Disclosure: I’m a consultant for them). Just hit the “Reply” button below and upload a video from the web or mobile – we’ll publish our favorites.
The post Deadpool – What Did You Think? (Share Your Video Review) appeared first on /Film.
Did you know Ryan Reynolds wrote almost all of his own dialogue for X-Men: Origins Wolverine? Also, what rating did Ryan Reynolds give Green Lantern recently? Who might die in Thor: Ragnarok? Deadpool has been banned overseas again, but where? All that and more in this edition of Superhero Bits.
CBS released this new image of the Fortress of Solitude as seen in an upcoming Supergirl episode.
Deadpool set a new February preview record by taking in $12.7 million in Thursday night showings.
I would watch the hell out of this Deadpool movie if it were real.
Tom Welling talks about the difference between Supergirl and Smallville.
Tighten your collective sphincters and break out the chimichangas kiddos!
— Cat Cosplay (@Cat_Cosplay) February 10, 2016
Meet the Merc with a Meow, a cat dressed up like Deadpool.
Check out LeBron James in a clip from his guest role on Teen Titans Go.
Film critic John Gholson delivered this comic style review of Deadpool, and it gets interrupted.
Ryan Reynolds gives Green Lantern the rating it deserves.Continue Reading Superhero Bits>>
Due to the amount of graphics and images included in Superhero Bits, we have to split this post over THREE pages. Click the link above to continue to the next page of Superhero Bits.
The post Superhero Bits: Deadpool Banned Again, Thor: Ragnarok Death, Toy Fair Sneak Peeks and More appeared first on /Film.
If AMC puts out a show and Chris Hardwick isn’t there to talk about it with a bunch of celebrities immediately afterward, did it ever really air at all? Increasingly, the answer seems to be no. Following the success of Talking Dead and Talking Bad — Hardwick’s live talk shows about The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad — AMC has announced it’s launching Talking Saul. The first episode will air right after Better Call Saul‘s season 2 premiere on Monday.
AMC announced Talking Saul today. So far, only two episodes are planned: one to follow the Better Call Saul season 2 premiere, and one to follow the Better Call Saul season 2 finale. Consider it a test run; if these episodes go well, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Talking Saul expanded to cover every episode of Better Call Saul season 3. Assuming there is a Better Call Saul season 3, that is, which AMC has yet to confirm.
Hardwick will have Better Call Saul co-creator Vince Gilligan and star Bob Odenkirk on for Talking Saul‘s hourlong debut episode on Monday, February 15. They should make for a spirited episode, although given Odenkirk’s hilariously bumbling recent attempt to recap season 1 on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, it’s unclear how much useful insight he’ll really have to offer.
Hardwick’s Talking mini-empire began in 2011, as The Walking Dead entered its second season. Each episode of Talking Dead has Hardwick discussing the episode of The Walking Dead that we’ve just seen with a few celebrity guests — sometimes cast and crew members associated with The Walking Dead, but often just famous people who happen to be fans of the series. The shows are taped live in front of a studio audience.
In 2013, AMC launched Talking Bad, also hosted by Hardwick, to play after each episode of the second half of Breaking Bad‘s fifth and final season. The franchise branched out again last year, when Talking Dead aired a special episode after the season 1 finale of the Walking Dead spinoff Fear the Walking Dead. That installment did well enough that AMC has since announced Talking Dead will be on after each episode of Fear the Walking Dead season 2.
Better Call Saul season 2 will kick off Monday at 10/9c, and Talking Saul will be on at 11/10c.
The post ‘Better Call Saul’ Gets Its Own ‘Talking Dead’-Style Talk Show, ‘Talking Saul’ appeared first on /Film.
Nearly a year ago, we found out that Sony was going to take The Smurfs in an all-new direction on the big screen. Instead of continuing the live-action animation hybrid franchise, they opted to have Sony Pictures Animation develop an all-new animated film that would essentially reboot the blue creatures on film. Now the film has a title and more voices to add to its roster.
The movie is called Smurfs: The Lost Village, and it will follow Smurfette (Demi Lovato) on a journey to find out what her purpose in life is, and why she’s the only girl in the village. But she won’t be alone, as her three brothers Brainy, Hefty and Clumsy will be joining her. But who will be voicing the sibling trio? Find out below along with the first Smurfs The Lost Village images.
Here’s an image from the new animated Smurfs (via USA Today):
You can see the three brothers in the new image, though Smurfette can only be seen in the previously released promo image at the top. 30 Rock‘s Jack McBrayer will voice the sweet, awkward and honest-to-a-fault Clumsy, with Danny Pudi (Community) as the book smart and geek proud Brainy, who is “long on knowledge, but short on inter-Smurf-onal skills,” whatever that means. And finally, Hefty will be voiced by True Blood and Magic Mike star Joe Manganiello, the perfect talent for the loyal dynamo struggling with his hero complex.
In fact, the casting of the latter Smurf resulted in some changes to the character. Director Kelly Asbury (Shrek 2) explains:
We’ve designed Hefty to have slightly bulkier arms, and he can flex his biceps — Hefty Smurf has guns. He also walks with a rather puffed-up, confident posture. He’s very protective of them all, especially Smurfette, for whom he carries a not-so-secret puppy-love torch.
The rest of the voice cast includes Rainn Wilson as Gargamel and Mandy Patinkin as Papa Smurf. Surely there will be some other voices to add down the road, but we’ve got plenty of time to learn about those since the film doesn’t arrive until March 31, 2017. If you want to know more about the movie, here’s the official synopsis from Sony Pictures Animation:
It seems to Smurfette that everyone else in the Village has a purpose — Papa Smurf (leading), Baker Smurf (baking), even Grouchy Smurf (grouching) — except for her. So what’s the only girl in the village to do? Go in search of hers, of course!
When she accidentally crosses paths with a mysterious creature that takes off into the Enchanted Forest, she follows, and sets off into the uncharted and strictly forbidden woods. Joined by her brothers Brainy, Hefty and Clumsy — and with the evil wizard Gargamel shadowing their every step — Team Smurf undertakes a wild journey full of action, danger and discovery, setting them on a course that leads to the biggest mystery in Smurf history.
The fully-animated return to the tone and style of the beloved comic book creations of Peyo is directed by Kelly Asbury (Shrek 2, Gnomeo & Juliet), produced by Jordan Kerner (Charlotte’s Web, The Smurfs), co-produced by Mary Ellen Bauder (Hotel Transylvania), and executive produced by Raja Gosnell and Ben Waisbren.
The post ‘Smurfs: The Lost Village’ First Look: Wanna See Joe Manganiello Shirtless… As a Smurf? appeared first on /Film.
Less than a month after the first trailer for The Night Manager, we’ve got another look at the upcoming miniseries. The adaptation of John Le Carré‘s novel originally aired on the BBC, but AMC is bringing the miniseries to the States in the coming months. The Night Manager stars Tom Hiddleston, Hugh Laurie, Olivia Colman, Tom Hollander, and Elizabeth Debicki.
Watch The Night Manager trailer below.
Make sure never to mess with a nighttime manager (Hiddleston) at a hotel, because sometimes they might turn out to be a former British soldier recruited to uncover a businessman (Laurie) involved in the arms trade. That’s the set up of this adaptation, which is directed by Susanne Bier (A Better World).
Here’s The Night Manager trailer:
Bier directed all six episodes of the miniseries, and it’s premiering at the ongoing Berlin International Film Festival. The last feature we saw from Bier was Serena, a troubled project, starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, that came and went. It was an abnormal misstep from Bier, who we usually expect fine drama from.
With this cast and Le Carré’s material, though, she should bounce back nicely from that film. Back in 2015, she had this to say about The Night Manager:
David Farr’s elegant script perfectly orchestrates the central cat-and-mouse game between these two irresistibly flawed characters. That Hugh Laurie and Tom Hiddleston will be playing Roper and Pine, respectively, is so thrilling to me. Their shared soulfulness, precision and sharp humor will seduce us all, both through Roper’s charming yet insidious manipulations and Pine’s unsettlingly enigmatic struggle to do the right thing.
While the idea of watching Hiddleston and Laurie going head-to-head in a miniseries directed by Bier is indeed enticing, it’s Elizabeth Debicki‘s presence that has got me even more intrigued by The Night Manager. She was absolutely wonderful in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., delivering a ferociously elegant performance. I’m looking forward to seeing where her career goes.
Here’s the official synopsis:
The Night Manager mini-series will bring together love, loss and revenge in a complex story of modern criminality. The eagerly anticipated series follows former British soldier Jonathan Pine (Tom Hiddleston) as he navigates the shadowy recesses of Whitehall and Washington where an unholy alliance operates between the intelligence community and the secret arms trade. To infiltrate the inner circle of lethal arms dealer Richard Onslow Roper (Hugh Laurie), Pine must himself become a criminal.
The Night Manager premieres on Tuesday, April 19th at 10 PM ET/PT.
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Man, Zootopia sure looks cute. Like really cute. Okay, it looks adorable. Heart-meltingly adorable. Every trailer for this film has made me saw “aww” more than I’d care to admit, because it’s not like an animated Disney film starring a colorful cast of easily merchandisable rabbits and foxes and what-have-you needs my help. Zootopia certainly looks like it has the potential to be huge without me gushing about nice it looks.
Two new clips from the film have arrived online highlighting Ginnifer Goodwin rabbit police officer Judy Hopps. And yes, both of them are unreasonably, unbearably cute.
Zootopia‘s previous trailers and clips have established the strange setting of the film: a city inhabited entire by anthropomorphized animals who coexist together, have jobs, own homes, and do everything you do. Except they do it much cuter than you. Aww. Each of these new clips offers a glimpse at how the film melds the animal and human worlds and the results are very clever. Take this clip, where Goodwin’s Officer Hopps meets Office Clawhauser (Nate Torrence) and they have a slightly awkward social misunderstanding:
Even better is this second clip, which finds Hopps in hot pursuit of a criminal through a neighborhood populated entire by small rodents. The result is a fast and funny foot chase that takes on the aura of an old school Kaiju battle. But you know, a really, really cute Kaiju battle:
Directed by Disney animation veterans Byron Howard (Tangled and Bolt) and Rich Moore (Wreck-It Ralph), Zootopia looks like a colorful and fresh riff on the talking animal movie, which Disney has been pumping out since the ’40s. If anyone needed to give this concept a kick in the pants, it’s them.
Here is the official synopsis for the film:
In the animal city of Zootopia, which is populated by mammals, birds, fish, Invertebrates, reptiles, amphibians, Primates, Marine Mammals, dinosaurs, Arthropods, Insects, Mollusks, annelids, Echinoderms and Arachnids a fast-talking fox who’s trying to make it big goes on the run when he’s framed for a crime he didn’t commit. Zootopia’s top cop, a self-righteous rabbit, is hot on his tail, but when both become targets of a conspiracy, they’re forced to team up and discover even natural enemies can become best friends.
Zootopia opens on March 4, 2016. The deep bench of voice talent also includes Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Alan Tudyk, J.K. Simmons, Jenny Slate, Bonnie Hunt, Octavia Spencer and more than a few other recognizable voices. And they’re all surely playing completely adorable and huggable animals, of course.
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A New Betty Boop Animated Series Is in the Works, But What Does This Character Even Look Like in 2016?
Any character with longevity risks losing their identity. Just look to Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, who used to embark on wild, globetrotting adventures full of comedic mayhem and now spend their days acting as the literal mascots for the Walt Disney Company and little more. Time has turned them into symbols rather than characters, and those with the power to remind audiences of why they were beloved in the first place don’t want to risk tarnishing those symbols. After all, they move a lot of Mickey merchandise just by playing it safe.
Another victim of this phenomenon is Betty Boop, the most famous creation of the great animator Max Fleischer, whose Depression-era cartoon shorts are often still astonishing today. The years have transformed Ms. Boop, an adventure and disaster-prone flapper girl who starred in dozens of shorts throughout the 1930s and beyond, into a cartoon figurehead who exists just to appear on T-shirts and keychains. But now, that may change, as a new Betty Boop animated series is in the works.
According to Deadline, Normaal Animation (best known for their Peanuts series) is behind the new show, which is being produced with the cooperation of Fleischer Studios and King Features. It will be Betty Boop’s first series in decades. The series description sounds barebones enough to allow for any kind of interpretation:
…the series recounts the daily struggles, joys and victories of young Betty Boop, who has every intention of being on stage and becoming a superstar.
The existence of this series suggests that the Simon Cowell-produced Betty Boop movie we heard about a few years ago is probably dead, but that may be for the best.
But who is Betty Boop, anyway? In Fleischer’s original cartoons, she was the catalyst for whatever insane concepts he and his animators chose to explore. You never really know what you’re going to get with an early Boop cartoon, which were frequently surreal and grim and entirely unpredictable. Unlike Walt Disney, who was producing classy entertainment for the entire family, Fleischer was all about exploring the dark side, using animation to dig into the odd and the unpleasant. For a generation raised on Boop as a mascot, these early cartoons can often feel genuinely shocking.
Take “Bimbo’s Initiation,” which only features Betty Boop in a small role but perhaps sums up the untouchable, deranged insanity of early Fleischer work better than anything:
The Hays Code eventually stripped Betty of her freewheeling sexuality and the Fleischer cartoons lost much of their original bite. So we can only hope that the folks at Normaal Animation understand that Betty Boop was never built for standard stories or mundane adventures. If they want to stay true to the character, to honor her legacy as an animated icon and not a mascot, they’ll take their show in a deeply weird direction. We’ll find out when the show premieres in 2018.
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Earlier today, we reported that Paramount Pictures had set dates for Transformers 5, 6, and 7 in 2017, 2018, and 2019. Well, it turns out that wasn’t exactly accurate. While it is true we’re getting three more Transformers movies over the next three years, they won’t all be direct sequels. One of them will be a spinoff featuring Bumblebee (that’s the yellow one, for those of you who suffer from a Transformers-specific form of face blindness).
Tom Warner, leader of the Transformers franchise at Hasbro, spilled the beans during an investor conference call for Toy Fair (via Coming Soon):
This summer we worked closely with a talented team of A-list screenwriters to map out the future of the Transformers cinematic universe, and as Brian announced earlier, things kick off in a major way in 2017 with the release of Transformers 5 in June. And we’re working on a spin-off movie centered around Bumblebee for 2018 and the next chapter for 2019.
So the film we previously referred to as Transformers 6 is, in fact, a Bumblebee-centric movie. That film will hit theaters June 8, 2018, where it’ll face off against Godzilla 2. It’ll be one of the many projects to come out of the Transformers writers room led by Akiva Goldsman, but we don’t know at this time which specific writers will be credited. No director or star has been announced.
The Bumblebee spinoff will be one of the first steps toward expanding the Transformers series into a Marvel-style shared universe. Rumors of a possible Bumblebee movie began to circulate last summer when Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner suggested, “We could see stories told around Bumblebee and other characters.” Warner’s comments don’t come as a surprise, then, but just a confirmation of something fans have already suspected.
Bumblebee has been one of the most popular and most recognizable Autobots in the Transformers franchise. In the first-generation toy line released by Hasbro, his car form was a Volkswagen Beetle, but in the live-action movies he turns into some variant of a Chevrolet Camaro. He was Sam Witwicky’s car in the first three movies, and he returned without his human BFF in 2014’s Transformers: Age of Extinction.
Before we get to Bumblebee’s solo adventure, though, we have Transformers 5 to look forward to. That one is being directed by Michael Bay (who claims it’s his last Transformers movies — no, seriously, for real this time, you guys) and will bring back Mark Wahlberg as robotics expert and underappreciated inventor Cade Yeager. It opens June 23, 2017.
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Undoubtedly, the new trend in network television is bringing back movies that have been around for years and retooling them as TV shows. Limitless and Minority Report have already made the jump, Training Day, Rush Hour and Cruel Intentions are on the way, and now one more is being thrown together at Fox.
The network has just ordered a TV pilot based on the classic action franchise Lethal Weapon starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover, and they already have Damon Wayans Sr. lined up to take the latter’s role as LAPD detective Roger Murtaugh. Find out more about the Lethal Weapon TV series after the jump.
As of now, this is just a pilot order from Fox, so there’s a chance we may never get to see this series come to fruition if the network executives aren’t impressed with it. Variety reports this new take on Lethal Weapon will follow a Texas cop and former Navy SEAL Martin Riggs (not yet cast) who suffers the loss of his wife and baby and moves to Los Angeles to start anew. There, he gets partnered with LAPD detective Roger Murtaugh (Wayans), who, having recently suffered a “minor” heart attack, must avoid any stress in his life.
That doesn’t sound remarkably dissimilar from the first movie, though it will presumably be a little less dark since since this will be a network TV show instead of an R-rated movie. Here’s the bad news though: Charlie’s Angels director McG will be at the helm of the pilot and also serve as executive producer on the series. The director is coming off executive producing Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments and The Mysteries of Laura, and he just ruins a lot of things that he touches. Hopefully whatever Forever creator Matt Miller does with the script will help matters.
At the very least, the casting of Damon Wayans Sr. is something that intrigues me, even after he made a douchebag move with his comments about Bill Cosby’s rape victims last year. Though he hasn’t done much of anything since My Wife and Kids ended in 2005, he once saw action in The Last Boy Scout and even mixed it in with some comedy alongside Adam Sandler in Bulletproof. This could be a nice comeback role for ole Blankman.
The question is, who should play Riggs? My first pick would be Josh Holloway, but he’s busy with the show Colony now, and it just got a second season order. Maybe Charlie Hunnam would be good, but he’s concentrating on film roles at this point. What about Michael C. Hall? I’m just spitballing here, but maybe you have some suggestions for who should play Riggs. Let us know in the comments!
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Walt Disney Animation Studios has been on a roll in recent years, with a list of films that includes Wreck-It Ralph, Tangled, Big Hero 6, Frozen and the short films Feast and Paperman. Many people would say that the Burbank-based animation studio has been turning out more consistently great films than their Emmerville brother Pixar. Their latest film Zootopia from directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore (Bolt, Tangled) is set to hit theaters in the US in March 2016, and the first trade reviews have begun to hit online as the film is being released early in international markets (under the alternate title Zootropolis).
Does Disney Animation have another hit on their hands or will this be their Good Dinosaur? Find out as we take a look at the early Zootopia reviews through spoiler-free excerpts, after the jump.Spoiler-Free Excerpts From The First Zootopia Reviews
Michael Rechtshaffen from The Hollywood Reporter:
The energetic voices of Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman and Idris Elba lend life to Disney’s amusing animated menagerie. … the 3D caper expertly combines keen wit with a gentle, and very timely, message of inclusivity and empowerment. The engaging result should easily appeal to all creatures great and small, giving this premium Walt Disney Animation Studios effort a paw up on spring break entertainment, not to mention the summer arrival of Universal’s animated The Secret Life of Pets.
Robert Abele from The Wrap:
Goodwin’s bouncy performance and Bateman’s well-honed comic delivery are ideally matched, and there are enough lively characters and snappy scenes to keep even the clichéd elements humming, even the usual inside jokes … [Zootopia] has its share of laughs and action, but sets itself apart with its more serious-minded elements … its moral ambition gives “Zootopia” enough of a refreshing twist to stand out from the rest of the animated pack. After the animals on screen finish talking, parents and kids just might be inspired to have their own discussion about the movie’s well-intended message.
Peter Debrudge from Variety:
A classic L.A.-style detective story, a la “The Big Lebowski” or “Inherent Vice,” yielding an adult-friendly whodunit with a chipper “you can do it!” message for the cubs. … The deeper they go, the more “Zootopia” comes to resemble such vintage noirs as “Chinatown” and “L.A. Confidential,” from its increasingly shadowy look to Michael Giacchino’s jazzy lounge-music score. Disney has been down this road before with “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” although this time, there’s not a single human character to be found, while the adult-skewing jokes (mostly references to other movies) aren’t nearly so inappropriate for kids. … While it doesn’t have quite the same breakout potential as the Mouse House’s past few hits, “Zootopia” has shrewdly established both an environment that could be further explored from countless other angles (in a spinoff TV series, perhaps) and an odd-couple chemistry between Nick and Judy that carries on even after Gazelle returns for her obligatory grand finale.
Patrick Dane of Bleeding Cool:
As a family film, Zootropolis is largely successful. It has a fairly vibrant art direction that will delight the eyes, and the world of Zootopia, while on the surface appears standard fair, proves to be a complex and interesting creation. It’s full of several well realised characters, not least of all the two leads. … What really, really makes the film interesting though is its focus on politics. … the film has a pretty clear political focus, and that’s one of societal prejudice, most specifically that of race. The film isn’t lightly hinting at this either, it bravely runs headlong into the issue by making it the entire premise of the central narrative. … While this could have be a little heavy handed, and at the rarest of times it can be, for the most part the theme is well written and evenly considered. It’s not black and white, and the character we root for also indulge in their own prejudices about the other group, helping to create a morally complex society. This isn’t the idealised harmony Hopps thought it was, and the film is about coming to terms with that. This actually feels like it takes from great Sci-Fi movie, in the ilk of District 9, that uses a metaphorical society to talk about our own. It’s very well done indeed.
Melissa Hoban of The Upcoming:
It delivers an action-packed neo-noir comedy onto our cinema screens, with a musical hit by Shakira to boot. … The animation team surpass expectations with the fantastic personification of each animal’s characteristics and personality. This skill is mirrored by the cast, who inject their voices with the stereotypes we hold within the animal kingdom. … Disney’s animated films have moved past their days as a guilty pleasure for adults too embarrassed to admit to watching their childhood favourites, and Zootropolis firmly confirms this new status. It is full of jokes for the adults in the audience.
Looks like most of the international reviewers have enjoyed the film, which seems to pack a bigger social political message than expected. Zootopia hits U.S. theaters March 4.
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At first, XXX: The Return of Xander Cage seemed like a pipe dream, a thing Vin Diesel would bring up in interviews as part of a desperate ploy to have a wingless angel assigned to his case. And now it’s actually filming with director D.J. Caruso at the helm and a genuinely bizarre ensemble of actors filling out the space not taken up by Diesel-bulk. However, it look like one of the previously announced actors won’t be in the film after all.
Jet Li has apparently dropped out of the latest XXX film, but Donnie Yen has quickly taken his place. Let’s get really honest for a second: the production has traded up here.
This news begins with a photo posted on Diesel’s Facebook page, showing the Fast and Furious star having a moment with Caruso and Yen, whose involvement in the film was not known until this post. Here’s the photo:
And here’s the brief message Diesel shared with it:
Director, Xiang and Xander…
Donnie Yen’s first day on set.
Our global cast is simply amazing!
So there you go. Yen’s character is apparently named Xiang, for those keeping track. Although Diesel himself doesn’t specifically mention it, Birth Movies Death reports that Li has dropped out of the film for unknown reasons and that Yen has replaced him. And it seems like Yen probably answered a late night phone call, said yes, arrived on set and asked “Okay, who am I playing now?” because Li was seemingly still attached to this project as of a few days ago.
We can’t say for sure why Li would drop out, but it’s noteworthy that he didn’t even bother to wipe the disdain from his face while filming the Expendables movies. He may have just hit his limit when it comes to filming goofy American action movies. Truthfully, Li hasn’t been a truly exciting screen presence (especially in American films) for quite some time.
But Donnie Yen? Donnie Yen is incredible. Although he’s best known to American audiences for the Ip Man series, he’s been starring in Chinese martial arts movies for decades. I’m especially partial to The Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen, which features a scene where Yen fights his way through a World War I battlefield using only his fists and feet. Since that scene isn’t on YouTube, here’s another scene where he simply decimates a whole bunch of guys:
And Yen’s casting will pay off for XXX: The Return of Xander Cage in the long run. By the time the film opens in 2017, audiences will have seen Yen play a major role in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Sure, they lost Jet Li, but they gained a genuinely exciting performer who is going to be able to talk about this other action movie he’s making while he’s making the Rogue One press rounds later this year.
Details about Yen’s character XXX character remain under wraps, but previous reports have suggested that he is one of the villains of the film. If so, everyone faces a huge dilemma – how are we supposed to believe that Vin Diesel can take down Donnie Yen in a fight?
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Melissa McCarthy may not be returning for the Gilmore Girls revival, to the endless disappointment of Gilmore Girls fans, but don’t worry — she’s got plenty of other stuff to keep her busy in the coming months. Not only will she appear as one of the new fab four in Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters reboot, she’s also starring in The Boss, which reunites her with her Tammy director (and real-life husband) Ben Falcone.
McCarthy plays Michelle Darnell, a hotshot CEO whose extravagant lifestyle comes crashing down when she’s arrested for insider trading. She emerges from prison disgraced and discouraged, but finds an unlikely path back to the top in the form of Girl Scout cookies. Or rather, “Darnell’s Darlings Brownies.” Kristen Bell plays Michelle’s reluctant business partner, and Peter Dinklage shows up as… unclear, but the role involves him wielding a sword. Watch The Boss red-band trailer after the jump.
As she’s proven in Bridesmaids, This Is 40, Identity Thief, The Heat, Spy, etc., McCarthy knows her way around a colorful insult. (She could give even Deadpool a run for his money on that front.) And The Boss, which has McCarthy playing a Trump-like bully, seems to offer her plenty of opportunities to show off that particular skill. But I’m inclined to think the putdowns were actually funnier in the green-band trailer, when the rules against bad language meant the insults had to be more creative.
And while it’s always great to see Bell, it feels like a waste to cast her as Michelle’s humorless straight-woman. Bell can do acerbic really well, as Veronica Mars fans can attest, and it might have been more fun to watch her go toe-to-toe with Michelle than meekly follow her instructions. On the bright side, though, if you’re a fan of comedies in which horrible people end up as unlikely role models to impressionable kids, The Boss seems to have that base covered.
The Boss arrives April 8.
Academy Award®-nominated star Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids, The Heat, Tammy) headlines The Boss as a titan of industry who is sent to prison after she’s caught for insider trading. When she emerges ready to rebrand herself as America’s latest sweetheart, not everyone she screwed over is so quick to forgive and forget.
McCarthy is joined in The Boss by an all-star cast led by Kristen Bell, Peter Dinklage and Kathy Bates. Directed by Ben Falcone (Tammy), the comedy is based on an original character created by McCarthy and written by McCarthy and Falcone alongside their Groundlings collaborator, Steve Mallory. The film is produced by McCarthy and Falcone through their On the Day productions and Will Ferrell, Adam McKay and Chris Henchy through their Gary Sanchez Productions.
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Sugar. Spice. And everything nice. These were the ingredients chosen to create the perfect little girl. But Professor Utonium accidentally added an extra ingredient to the concoction: CHEMICAL X. Thus The Powerpuff Girls were… reborn!
You can have your Fuller House and your Gilmore Girls revival, but personally, I’m way more excited about seeing the return of the pint-sized, animated superheroes known as the Powerpuff Girls. The animated series gets a bit of a reboot this April on Cartoon Network, but when you see the first footage from this new Powerpuff Girls series, you’ll see that not much has changed, and that’s a good thing. Check it out!
Here’s the first clip from the new Powerpuff Girls series coming to Cartoon Network:
The animation for The Powerpuff Girls has been updated ever so slightly and the voices of the girls are different with Amanda Leighton as Blossom, Kristen Li as Bubbles and Natalie Palamides as Buttercup. Otherwise, the playful tone of the show has been preserved, and this feels like something that fans of the original series will love just as much.
The writing certainly still seems to be clever, along with empowering little girls. In this clip, a villain named Manboy, born of brawn and musk, has vowed to turn the city of Townsville into the city of Mansville, a place where men are men and boys are men. But of course, the Powerpuff Girls aren’t going to put up with any of that.
This really looks like it’s going to be an enjoyable return for The Powerpuff Girls. And the good news is that even if it’s not up to par, you can always go back and watch the old episodes that you loved so much and still let the new generation like this one. Or maybe you’ll be happy with both versions and everyone wins. We’ll find out
Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup, the original arbiters of girl power, are back on Cartoon Network! The Powerpuff Girls, the beloved global phenomenon, will return this spring with a brand-new, re-imagined series about three girls juggling school and saving the world before bedtime.
The Powerpuff Girls returns to Cartoon Network sometime in April.
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It’s no secret that pretty much the entire /Film crew has undying love for Almost Famous. Maybe it’s because of the similarities between covering the world of music and covering the world of film and television, or maybe it’s just because it’s a damn good coming-of-age tale. No matter what the reason, I love it. Therefore, I’m happy to see director Cameron Crowe‘s first television endeavor taking him back behind the scenes of rock and roll with a new Showtime series called Roadies.
Not unlike Almost Famous, the show follows around a fictional band, but it’s the crew who gets the concerts ready that takes the spotlight. They tour around the United States, creating an unconventional family-like bond with all the good and bad that comes with living each other on the road for months at a time. Get a taste of what you can expect with the first Roadies trailer below.
The series boasts quite the cast with Luke Wilson, Carla Gugino and Imogen Poots starring in the series, the latter of whom has a much different experience in the rock world with Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room. In addition, there’s also Rafe Spall (Prometheus) and Keisha Castle-Hughes (Game of Thrones) with guest appearances by the likes of Luis Guzman (Boogie Nights), Finesse Mitchell (Saturday Night Live) and apparently comedian Ron White as well.
This series might be enough for me to get Showtime for a month after the series ends so I can binge watch it. It looks like it has some Almost Famous flair to it, but with a bit of Singles thrown in there for good measure. Since Crowe hasn’t delivered a fantastic film in quite awhile, I’m hoping this series that he wrote, directed, created and executive produced makes up for it.
Roadies gives an insider’s look at the reckless, romantic, funny and often poignant lives of a committed group of “roadies” who live for music and the de facto family they’ve formed along the way. The music-infused ensemble comedy series chronicles the rock world through the eyes of music’s unsung heroes and puts the spotlight on the backstage workers who put the show on the road while touring the United States for a successful arena-level band.
Roadies premieres on Sunday, June 26 at 10pm ET only on Showtime.
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Netflix has the habit of renewing their shows as fast as possible, announcing new seasons the Monday after a new batch of episodes has dropped. In the case of House of Cards, they renewed their flagship series for a fifth season weeks before season four dropped. Since Netflix is in the business of you watching their original content as fast as possible, they have developed the habit of letting everyone know as soon as possible that yes, there will soon be new episodes for you to binge.
So it’s a little weird that it took this long Master of None season 2 to officially get put in the pipeline, which makes you wonder if series star, co-creator, and occasional writer/director Aziz Ansari deliberately pushed pause to recharge his batteries. In any case, Ansari has revealed that a new season will arrive in 2017, which is excellent news for anyone who likes good things.
Ansari announced the news on Twitter, including a brief video recounting every episode title from the show’s first season. It’s telling that a few of those titles bring back instant and evocative memories of the show itself, which is one of the best, freshest, and most quietly ambitious series Netflix has in its library. “Nashville” forever!
Master of None Season 2 coming 2017. Thanks for all the support everyone!! pic.twitter.com/LSxo7dEVQ1
— Aziz Ansari (@azizansari) February 11, 2016
For those who haven’t watched it, Master of None follows Dev (Ansari), an actor trying to navigate life in New York City. And while that template could service a standard sitcom, the series is more concerned with the stuff that most comedies side-step or tone down. Master of None is always funny, but it’s at its best when it gets specific, taking deep dives into casual racism, seemingly invisible sexism, how even the most promising relationships fall apart for mundane reasons, what it’s like to be the child of an immigrant, and how an electronic seal may be the greatest grieving tool of them all.
Like FX’s Louie, Master of None eschews the bland cinematography and “shot, then reaction shot” style of most television comedy, delivering something far more cinematic and refined. It may not be as formally ambitious as Louis C.K.’s work, but Ansari and his collaborators have crafted a show that is genuinely nice to look at, often feeling more like a droll New Hollywood film like Manhattan than a television series that was produced in 2015.
Between this and the return of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Netflix is on fire in the “creating comedies that actually matter and feel like must-see-TV” department. It’s going to be along wait until 2017.
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Down in Atlanta, Georgia, director James Gunn has officially begun production on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Not too long ago we featured some pictures that the filmmaker posted to his Instagram and Facebook accounts, and now Gunn has taken to social media again with a post from the set of the sequel, showing off a new production title logo. It’s not drastically different than the one we’ve seen before, but we’re just excited that filming is finally beginning. Check out the new Guardians of the Galaxy 2 logo after the jump.
Here’s what James Gunn posted to Instagram yesterday:
A photo posted by James Gunn (@jamesgunn) on Feb 11, 2016 at 1:22pm PST
It’s the “Vol. 2” portion that has been given a bit of a makeover, which was previously made to look handwritten over the original Guardians of the Galaxy title design.. However, it’s important to note that there’s a good chance this won’t be the final title design that we see on posters and other marketing materials. Often times the canvas chairs that actors, directors, producers and some of the crew sit in while on set merely have temporary or working production logos or titles.
Frankly, I’m surprised they didn’t go with some kind of old tape label to emulate the title being named like one of Star-Lord’s mix tapes. But perhaps that’s what they’ll end up doing for the final title design. Speaking of which, is that reference to the Whitesnake song “Here I Go Again” a hint that the song might be on the soundtrack for the sequel? We’ll find out eventually.
The important thing is Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is filming now, and we’ll get to see it on May 5, 2017. Now if we could just get confirmation that Kurt Russell is Star-Lord’s father, that would be great.
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