Summer movie season starts a little earlier every year, and in 2017, it has consumed May, April, and even our beloved March. Logan will kick off the big-budget bonanza in the first weekend of March, and then cede the floor to the gargantuan Kong: Skull Island the weekend after. Even so, these two releases in particular inspire hope rather than dread when reflecting upon the studio-fronted franchise releases encroaching beyond their summer stomping grounds. All the previews have suggested that these two films will have something original to bring to the table, and the latest clip for Kong: Skull Island confirms that if nothing else, we’ll have some delectable character acting to enjoy.
Like any job, writing about the latest news in the world of entertainment can wear on you after long enough, so you gotta appreciate the little pearls of amusement where you can get them. Personally, watching the latest solo Batman project fall apart in slow motion has been a perverse thrill over the past couple of months: star Ben Affleck was gonna direct (maybe) the film titled The Batman, then he was definitely gonna direct it, then he backpedaled a little bit, then he requested that people stop asking him about it, then he face-planted onto the sidewalk with the costly flop Live By Night, and then look at that, he wasn’t taking the director’s chair after all. The indignities kept coming, as Warner Bros. ordered sweeping rewrites to this floundering project before landing Planet of the Apes remake maestro Matt Reeves to fill the directorial vacuum.
Just as the nation’s mushroom-takers have begun to hit up their connections in preparation for this May’s opening of the lush, psychedelic new amusement park Pandora — The World of AVATAR, yet another attraction has appeared on the horizon. At present, Star Wars superfans can immerse themselves in the fantasy universe with the series of films, novels, spin-off films, animated television programs, various board games, and Disneyland’s popular Star Tours ride. But some diehards demand more, a fuller and more transportive experience. And Disney CEO Bob Iger has some great news for them. (And less-great news for everyone else.)
Look, you can’t blame a studio for taking notice when something is working and wanting to replicate their own success. Sequels wouldn’t get greenlit unless someone, somewhere, wanted them. It makes perfect fiscal sense for upstart animation studio Illumination to follow up on their blockbusters Minions, The Secret Life of Pets, and Sing. But, god, did they have to announce them all at once like that?
Because we tend to think of him more commonly as “slick neo-soul songbird” or “La La Land’s chief threat to the integrity of jazz” or “husband of Chrissy Teigen,” it can be easy to forget that John Legend’s got an Oscar under his belt. The musician and composer took the golden statuette for Best Original Song with his original tune “Glory” from Ava DuVernay’s thunderous Martin Luther King biopic Selma, and ever since, he’s been Hollywood’s go-to guy for poppin’ fresh (is that still what the kids are saying?) theme music. And today, a new announcement from Disney reported by Deadline lines up Legend’s next big gig.
J.J. Abrams made his bed, stuffed it with money and gold bricks, but now he‘d rather not lie in it. The director has risen to the top of Hollywood’s most-wanted list in recent years as a serviceable conductor of franchise pictures; he did right by the Mission: Impossible series, then moved on to mount the massive Star Trek resurgence, and brought Star Wars back to the grateful people of Earth with Episode VII. But this whole money-in-the-bank reputation comes with its downsides. Speaking with People, Abrams indicated that he‘s had his fill of franchise pictures and would prefer to explore some original concepts in the years to come.
Our modern digital Prometheus: when the technical wizards behind the CGI of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story learned that they could reanimate deceased actor Peter Cushing to reprise his role as gaunt-cheeked Empire command Grand Moff Tarkin, they never stopped stopped to think if they should. The resultant spelunking into the uncanny valley was as polarizing as it was unexpected. Some were wowed by the boundless possibilities of computer programming and the effective triumph over the permanence of death; others immediately flashed back to high school memories of reading Mary Shelley. The debate over the ethics of artificially contriving performances from dead actors continues to rage, and a figure close to the situation has now weighed in.
Despite volumes of scholarship from feminist theorists on its undertones of spousal abuse and insidious romanticizing of male brutality, Disney‘s Beauty and the Beast has remained a cherished childhood favorite worldwide. Kids love talking furniture, go figure. The live-action remake starring Emma Watson and an unrecognizable Dan Stevens is hot on the way to its March 17 release, and Disney has now released two new TV spots to further amp up the anticipation. In the first, embedded above, the Beast implores lovely Belle to “think of the one thing you’ve always wanted, and feel it in your heart.” We get a glimpse of the timeless ballroom-waltz scene, some barroom carousing from Gaston, and yet another look at the deeply unsettling character designs for Lumiere and Cogsworth.
It’s the Friday before Christmas. Those of us who aren’t currently concealing the fact that we’ve slumped over at our desks in a eggnog-hangover-induced nap have glued our eyes to the clock, counting down the minutes to a leisurely holiday break. Everyone just wants to get home, gather with family or other loved ones around a crackling fire, put on the musical stylings of Burl Ives or Bing Crosby, and have a nice mug of hot cocoa. Time slows to a crawl on the Friday before a long weekend, and we both know you’re not getting any work done today, so why not kick back with the soothing sounds of Chewbacca moaning out a classic Christmas standard?
The late actor Peter Cushing, mainstay of Hammer’s horror films and erstwhile Star Wars cast member, cut a distinctive figure: cheekbones that could slice diamond, perfectly coiffed shock of grey hair, mouth permanently pursed into a single flat line. As the ruthless Empire commander Grand Moff Tarkin, Cushing left a lasting impression on generations of viewers, austerity coded directly into the lines on his face. He makes for an instantly recognizable silhouette — so is that really him, out of focus and in the foreground for a split second in the latest Rogue One: A Star Wars Story TV spot?
Even for a case in which a 12-year-old girl gets stabbed nearly 20 times, it was particularly heinous: young Payton Leutner of Waukesha, Wisconsin was recovered bleeding out in the woods near a slumber party she had been attending in 2014. Her attackers were two of her good friends, fellow middle schoolers. What could have possessed a couple of innocent kids to suddenly turn psychopath without warning and leave their pal for dead in the middle of the night?
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