Thursday, April 28, 2016

Star Rogue One News: Mads Mikkelsen Reveals He’s Playing…. (Is this really a Spoiler?)

Mads Mikkelsen dropped what some are considering a big spoiler for Star Wars Rogue One. Well maybe the first sites posting about what he said in a Sky News interview just wanted me to click their articles. Surprisingly, it worked because I’ll click on anything to do with Star Wars news, and if you’re reading this, you probably will too. I also was curious because I didn’t think anything he said in a television interview would be that big of a reveal. Honestly I have no idea how big of a spoiler he dropped, because I haven’t seen the movie, but I’m going to guess it’s not that big.
So if you don’t want to read what the potential spoiler is don’t read any further, but I’m guessing if you clicked on my link you probably already know, but there is a warning…..

Mikkelsen revealed that he is playing Felicity Jones character’s father. Traditionally parentage in Star Wars is a big deal, with reveals coming at big dramatic moments, or left to huge speculation. This however is a very different Star Wars movie. Mikkelsen being her parent might be revealed within the first five minutes of the movie. She could talk about him, or interact with him and bring him in at any point. My point is that if this was a major spoiler he wouldn’t have let it slip. If you watch the interview he even jokes about having to kill the audience and the host if he tells anything about the movie. He knows he is not supposed to reveal anything, and he still let this slip. This tells me his character being her father is not a big reveal. It is just going to be part of the story. We still know nothing else about his actual character.
His character could be an imperial officer that Jones must win over, or he could be a garbage hauler captain. It is probably more the former than the latter knowing what types of characters Mikkelsen usually plays, but it could anything. Knowing he is her father might be an integral part of the story, or it could be of no consequence. Even he is a major part of the story, the knowledge he is her father still may mean nothing.
If you don’t want to know anything about these movies then you may have to unplug and live without the internet, if you care about this stuff at all. I do want to know tidbits about the movie and will click on these types of stories just to stay up to date on things happening with the movies. They have these actors so tight lipped they won’t let anything major slip, so for me this isn’t that big of a story.
It did generate a lot of buzz on my news feeds today, and I’m sure yours too if you are still reading this. It generated traffic to Star Wars News Net and other sights I go to, but that really is it. We still don’t really know anything about the movie or his character other than he is her father. He’s not going to be a Darth Vader like character. Mads even joked in the interview that he knew if Darth Vader is in the movie, but couldn’t let us know. This just isn’t that big of a deal. Any small tidbit of news stirs up an internet feeding frenzy, which I guess I’m adding too.

Let me know if you think if this is a big spoiler or not. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Game of Thrones S6E1 The Red Woman Review/Recap (Spoilers!): What’s in a Title?

Do you think the showrunners chose this title just to mess with fans of the show? The worst kept secret during the hiatus of Game of Thrones is Jon Snow’s death. Everyone on the show maintained Jon was in fact, dead which lead fans to say, yeah but he’s not going to stay dead. The theories have abounded about how Jon will come back from the grave, with the most popular being Melisandre bringing him back to life. The showrunners teased this with the title of the episode, but no resolution is given.
Very little actually happened in this episode. The board was setup for the season and the opening moves made for each storyline. I still think Jon will eventually be resurrected by Melisandre. We know she has some major magical powers, with how she truly looks. We also know other acolytes from the Red God have brought people back to life. I still think her prophecy will come true and we will see Jon fighting at Winterfell by the end of the season. We don’t have a major character at The Wall to relate and root for. Davos is a good character, but not someone who can carry a major storyline. Brienne is also bringing Sansa to the wall. I think two siblings of Ned Stark will finally be reunited.
I’m not sure where else Brienne would take Sansa. She knows Sansa should have at least one friend at The Wall who can offer protection. Maybe they will be in for a surprise when they get to The Wall finding Jon dead, but I don’t think that will be the case. It won’t be a happy reunion, but we will finally get two Stark children in the same place again. Who knows, maybe Jon won’t be in the show, and he will stay dead, but I just don’t see that being plausible with how the story has been setup to this point. It might just be my wishful thinking, but Jon is supposed to play a major part in the conclusion of this tale, along with Daenerys.
We last saw Daenerys getting captured by Dothraki. This was one of the departures from the books which seemed off to me. In the books we last see Daenerys attacking the Dothraki with Drogon, and them approaching her with him at her back. This was the ending of the season I wanted. With her then taking control of a Dothraki Horde this season. This is still where the story is headed, we are just getting more Dothraki time before Drogon swoops down to save Danny again. I would have preferred she take control from the start, but it looks like Daenerys will have to grow some more as a character before she unites the Dothraki to her cause.
To speculate I think Daenerys will take control of this Horde, and then unite all Dothraki. She then will sale across the sea to Westeros and concur the Seven Kingdoms, just in time to ride north to fight the White Walkers with her Dragons. This should be the overriding arch of the show with many other fun storylines thrown in with the characters we love. Daenerys will be able to unite Westeros easily because of how torn the country has become. She has the name, and will have the army and will only find broken houses in her way, like the Lannister’s.
Cersei will consume herself and the Lannister name. All she can now think about is revenge. Revenge on the High Sparrow and revenge on Dorne for killing Myrcella. She will usher in the destruction of King’s Landing and her house because she cannot look past what has happened to her. Jamie hopefully will wise up and join with someone else. He has in the books, and I hope he does in the show as well. His character transformation in the books is by far my favorite and it feels like he hasn’t grown as much in the show. He needs to be over Cersei, but that has not happened yet.
We got glimpses of other storylines. A brief bit with Tyrion, a small moment with Arya, and the Vipers taking over Dorn and then hour was over. I wanted more out of this episode, but it set the stage for the season nicely and I was entertained. I wanted the resolution of the Jon Snow’s death, but I assume we will get that in the next episode. I also would have liked to have finally seen Bran and what has happened to him. I am thinking we might have an entire hour devoted to him once he makes an appearance.
Overall I would have liked more advancement in the opening episode, but as long as the pieces begin to move quickly the season has a vast amount of promise. There are things that haven’t been covered from the books, but the main storylines are a complete mystery to everyone now. It will be a fun ride to see where the story takes us and eventually see how much Martin’s vision differs once he releases the next book.

What did you think of the season premiere? Did it leave you wanting more? Do you think the showrunners were having some fun at the fans expense with the title of the episode? Comment and let me know your thoughts. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

World of Warcraft Trailer #2 Review/Discussion: Not Impressed

A new trailer for the upcoming Lionsgate/Blizzard film World of Warcraft dropped today. For someone who has never played the game the trailers haven’t gotten me excited to go watch the movie. The first trailer the CGI didn’t look great, and the music in the background for this second trailer was a strange choice. World of Warcraft has all the ingredients to be a great movie, the trailers just have fallen flat.
I will admit once I saw the first trailer in a theatre the CGI was more impressive. It actually looked great when watching in 3D. For the second trailer it looks like the CGI has been worked on and has improved, but the music in the background was not what I would expect to accompany a fantasy epic. Maybe for fans of the game this is the tone they expect for the movie. For a fan of fantasy films, I was looking for more of a Lord of the Rings feel instead of what this displayed.
Video game and fantasy movies have had many swings and misses. Many fall flat and are box office bombs. Lord of the Rings was the exception to the rule, and I am hoping World of Warcraft is as well. The trailers haven’t left me hopeful. The tone set in this trailer felt campy, instead of what should be an epic story. Maybe the movie will be completely different than the tone of the trailers. Duncan Jones is a good director and also a fan of the game so he should capture the right feel for the film.
The tone for the trailer however could be exactly what the movie is shooting for. Since I have never played the game this might be what it is like. If this is the case, and since the game is one of the most popular of its kind then the movie can work. The trailer just didn’t get me excited to go to the theatre and watch. Usually these types of movies don’t have to sell me. I’m going to go see the film, regardless, on opening night, but I’m still on the fence about Warcraft.  The trailers should be aiming to both excite the current fan base, but also draw interest from those who have never played the game.
This could be the biggest problem for Video game movies. There is already a vast majority of fans the film wants to deliver for, but it also must entice people who have never played or possibly even heard of the game. This of course can be said for books made into movies as well, and many books have been made into successful films. Maybe it is because we already have visuals for the games, and filmmakers are freer to set the tone for books that are adapted. World of Warcraft is another attempt to kick start an era of video games being made into film, but from the trailers I’m not sure it’s going to hit the mark.
If you are a fan of the game let me know if this trailer is what you expect. If you aren’t a fan of the game will you be going to see the movie based off these trailers? Comment and let me know

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Jungle Book - Movie Review: Old School Disney with Modern Flare

Classic Disney storytelling merged with cutting edge filmmaking technology brilliantly
The Jungle Book starring Neel Sethi, Ben Kingsley, Bill Murry, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, and directed by Jon Favreau. The movie is based off the classic Richard Kipling book and the 1967 Disney animated film. It tells the story of a boy who is raised by wolves, but forced to leave the pack because a fierce tiger is hunting him. The older animated film is a Disney classic and is beloved by many. Remaking it was a gamble, which for me, and it looks like many others it paid off remarkably well.
First let me say I don’t remember every watching the original Jungle Book animated movie. I think I have seen it, but that just could be images from hours of watching the Disney channel growing up. I also have never read the classic book. This is my first complete Jungle Book experience that I can remember. I’m not sure how much the story followed the original version, but I’m going to guess fairly closely.  There are shot for shot remakes in this from some of the most iconic scenes from the classic version. Favreau pulls this off with perfection. This feels like a classic Disney animated movie, but with CG and live action. I was glued to the story and beauty on the screen for the entire runtime of the film.
Going in I knew the film was entirely shot on stages in Hollywood. I was looking to try and pick out the CG from the real. I was able to do it at first, because I was focusing on it. After I became engrossed in the story the difference blended away and I was just watching a good movie. The technology used in this movie is simply remarkable. All of the animals look real, and you believe they are talking with Mowgli. This is helped along with all of the fantastic voice talent used for the film. Idris Elba is terrifying as Shere Khan. Ben Kingsley is wise as Bagheera, and Bill Murray, who I was worried about, was perfect as Baloo and adds the right amount of comic relief for the movie. I’m not sure if Bare Necessities was a great song in this movie, but it wasn’t horrible either.
There isn’t much negatively I can say about the film other than it seemed rushed at points. I think the movie may have needed an extra ten to fifteen minutes to flesh out the story just a bit more. For example there is a part where Bagheera tells Baloo that Mowgli will only listen to him. In the framework of the movie this wasn’t established enough to be believable. It was starting to be established, but more was needed to cement the idea that Mowgli and Baloo were the best of friends. In the long run it is a very small nitpick, and the movie needs to be on the shorter side to keep kids engaged. Some might take issue with Neel Sethi performance, and at times his line delivery wasn’t perfect, but overall for me it was solid. It’s his first performance, and for not having the any actual animals or people to act against, he did a great job.
Maybe younger children can do better with these types of roles. Their imaginations work in such a way that it is easier for them to perform when acting on a green screen than it is for adults. Sethi’s performance could have easily been wooden, stiff, and unbelievable having to act entirely on sound stages and not in an actual jungle, but it wasn’t. His performance coupled with how Favreau shot the film blended the CG and real world almost seamlessly. You can tell if you really look, but the story is told in such a way that you forget to keep looking.
The film has heart in its story and in the effort in took to make. This is both a love letter to classic Disney films, with an eye towards new ways to make movies. This is a movie that must be seen in theaters. See it if you have kids, though I would hold off if your children are under five. Some of the scenes could be frightening for younger kids. Shere Khan would have scared me as a kid. See the movie if you don’t have kids. It will take anyone back to watching Disney films when they were children. Jungle Book is simply a good time at the movies, go see it.
Let me know if you have seen Jungle Book and what you thought of it. If you haven’t seen it will you go to the theater and watch with the positive reviews it’s getting? 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Alden Ehrenreich the New Han Solo?

A story from Deadline yesterday reported actor Alden Ehrenreich has now become the frontrunner to play Han Solo in the new standalone Han Solo film. The movie is scheduled to come out on May 25, 2018.  Ehrenreich is a relative unknown starring in a few films over the past couple of years. He was recently in the Coen Brothers film Hail Caesar, and was one of movies biggest standouts. He was fantastic in every scene of the film he was in, and his performance probably got him in the door for the Han Solo casting.
Do I like him for the role? He wouldn’t have been my first choice, but I’m obviously not a casting director.  Lucasfilm did a fantastic job casting Episode 7, and if Lord and Miller think he’s the right fit for the part I’m excited to see what he can do. The Han Solo movie overall isn’t one of the Star Wars Anthology films (yes I know there Star Wars Stories now, but I like anthology better) I was excited about.  I’ll have my butt in the seat on opening night, but I didn’t care to see an adventure of a young Han Solo. A book or comic about his origins for the new canon would have been enough for me. I’m excited that Lawrence Kasden wrote the script, and has a story to tell for the character he brought to life with his screenplays from the original trilogy.  Harrison Ford’s performance and Kasden’s writing made Han Solo into one of the most beloved characters in all of film.
It will be tricky for the actor who steps into Fords shoes, but I think someone talented enough can do it. Ewan McGregor is arguably the best part of the prequels with his performance of Obi-Wan Kenobi and he had big shoes to fill for that role as well. Granted not as big as the actor who is going to play Han Solo, but recasting can be done and done well.  If Ehrenreich does get the role and then the movie is good, he is talented enough to make the role his own and impress audiences.  I’m not sure when confirmation of who plays the part is going to be announced, but I do think the person who has the role already knows they are cast. I would have been okay with the other two frontrunners getting the part, leaning towards Taron Egerton over Jack Reynor. Egerton has just been in more movies recently and done a great job, and would instill the most confidence for the movie  Ehrenreich would be the second logical choice because of his performance in Hail Caesar, but he also isn’t as widely known so Lucasfilm has a chance to capitalize on the his obscurity. He isn’t known for his other work, so he can become the next Han Solo, instead of being recognized as another character first.  It's only a thought, and if they do go with Egerton it still wouldn’t be a bad decision, even if he is recognized as the spy from Kingsman.
I’ll be excited for the official announcement and we can prepare to see whoever is cast as Han Solo. I think the announcement will come sometime before Star War Celebration this summer with the actor making his first appearance at the convention. This coupled with another Star Wars Rogue One trailer should make for a great event.
What do you think of Alden Ehrenreich? Did you see Hail, Creaser? If you did what did you think of his performance? If not, are you going to watch if he is the one who gets cast for Han Solo? 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Should We Be Worried About Star Trek Beyond?

The new Star Trek movie is only a few months from being released and all is quiet on the Paramount studios front. The movie went through reshoots in March, but that isn't a big concern with a major motion picture. Every blockbuster has time built in to go back and reshoot scenes that may not look as good, or flow as well as initially thought. It is a little strange that an entirely new character was introduced in the shoots, but it's still not a big red flag.
Aside from this though there seems to be very little marketing behind the movie yet, and it is set to be released in three months. Think about how much marketing we were starting to see for Star Wars in October. Granted, since this is the third movie in the rebooted franchise it won't have as much hype as Star Wars, but this is also the 50th anniversary of the when the first episode of Star Trek aired on television. There should be more buzz about this movie, and events planned leading up to it.
There is a big media conference going on in Las Vegas for Cinema owners, and usually studios will show clips from upcoming movies at the conference. Paramount decided to show clips from Baywatch instead of Star Trek. Many critics and other attending at the conference were very surprised Paramount didn't release any new footage of the film.
This is the big tent pole movie which will make Paramount's summer. Maybe they don't feel the need to market the movie because they had such a fantastic previous year with Furious 7 and Jurassic World. I would think this would be the opposite. They have money to spare after a great year and could put more buzz and hype around this movie. This movie should be getting a full marketing blitz, and instead we have one poorly made (in my opinion) trailer.
The marketing blitz could be coming, but there is very little Star Trek buzz out there right now. There should be more. Star Wars has stole some thunder, but they could be working to get some back. Maybe we will get another trailer this week since Star Wars dropped Rogue One last week. Star Trek needs to be on people's minds so the movie can be a big box office draw.
The other side of this is that the studio is worried about the movie and aren't happy with what has been developed. They don't want to put on a full market blitz because they know the finished product isn't going to be good. I'm hoping this isn't the case, but if we don't start to see the marketing for this movie start to ramp up the only conclusion is that Paramount is trying to hide the film to a degree.
Let me know what you think. Is it time to get worried about the movie because of the lack of marketing, or do you think the big push is coming in the next few months?

Friday, April 8, 2016

Star Wars Rogue One - Trailer Review/Recap: Battlefield Star Wars

I’m still calling this a Star Wars Anthology film
The Star Wars Rogue One trailer dropped this morning. First thing first, if you have randomly stumbled upon my video let’s do a public service announcement about this movie.  I saw a bunch of comments today questioning when this movie takes place, if it’s part of the new trilogy, and why is there another Death Star. If you are not a huge Star Wars nut like me then it’s understandable to have these questions. This movie hasn’t been marketed much up until this point, but let the marketing push begin. Rogue One takes place right before the events of Star Wars A New Hope. This is the story about how the Rebels stole the plans to the Death Star that eventually lead to finding a way to destroy it. There is one line of text in the original opening crawl that hints of this story, and I for one am excited to see how the Rebels accomplished this task.
I loved the trailer itself. The tone it set was exactly what I was looking for. A little darker than the normal Star Wars saga films. What really sticks out to me is how much they nailed the look from the original movie. This feels like a period piece with the costumes and sets they were able to get together. It’s like stepping back in time to the 1970’s. This alone caused me to geek out. The shots of Mon Mothma at the base on Yavin 4 and then of Ben Mendelsohn on the Death Star where Tarkin stood just gave me chills. And who is Ben Mendelson playing? I think it’s a Grand Admiral, but not necessarily a certain Grand Admiral from the legend books. We also get the subtle slow Star Wars music in the background which heighted the mood and tone the trailer was trying to set.
Then the klaxons start whaling and we see the Death Star. Yes I realize only two Star Wars movies have been completely Death Star free, but for me this doesn’t matter. I want to know this story, and we are still seeing the original Death Star and not another iteration down the line. Just seeing the scale of the Death Star and the having an old Star Destroyer as a reference was a great touch. The end with the troops running on a beach and the AT-AT firing at them was a perfect way to finish. The only way it could have finished better was to hear Darth Vader breathing at the end and to hear him say “What is they bidding my master.” I probably would have lost my mind if that were to happen. I know we are probably getting Vader in the next trailer, but it would have been another way to ensure people know that this movie is set apart from the new saga films.
Some people said they heard Vader breathing at the end. If he was going to be in a trailer, even his breathing, everyone would know for certain that Darth Vader is in the trailer. Another shot shows a figure in a cape and cowl kneeling with a couple of Imperial Guards in the background. This could be Darth Vader, but I’m not sure it is since he is hooded and we never see Darth Vader with a hood. It could this other figure we see in the trailer for a brief second. Regardless we know we are going to get Vader in this movie, the question is how much and when will he be revealed. I think to distinguish this film it should be sooner rather than later, but I understand other argument to make sure you don’t spoil the movie.
The only part of the trailer that bothered me the first time I watched was Forrest Whitaker’s monologue. I got a brief Battlefield Earth vibe. After I watched the trailer too many times to count today it grew on me and I didn’t mind it, but I did have a reservation the first time I watched it. It’s a very small part and who knows how it plays in the actual movie, I’m sure it will be fine. Nothing else bothered me. The Star Wars machine keeps rolling. I was excited to get my Star Wars episode 7 blu-ray on Tuesday and this was a fantastic way to top off the week. I’m not as hyped for this as I was episode 7, but I’m not sure anything will every top that hype. This was already my most anticipated film of the year, and this trailer only amplified my excitement. Which is what a trailer is supposed to do.
What did you think of the trailer? Was this movie on your radar if you weren’t a major Star Wars fan? Did it confuse you? If you knew about it did it amplify your excitement? Comment and let me know. 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Walking Dead S6E16 Last Day on Earth Recap/Review (Spoilers!): Disappointed

Can the last scene of an episode ruin an entire season?
That might be just a bit of hyperbole, but it is how I feel after the show took so much time building to one event and then not paying off. Let’s circle back around to the ending of the episode, and discuss what was done well in the finale.
The entire episode was excellent, except for the last minute. It started out with Rick thinking the group is still in control of their situation. They have survived everything the world has thrown at them. The finale did a fantastic job of slowly deconstructing the idea that they knew what was going to happen. The group poked a sleeping bear, and it finally woke up and attacked tonight. Each time the group was stopped in the RV, by The Saviors, a hole was punched in the idea that they could make it to Hilltop. The Saviors had a perfectly laid out plan to drive our group right where they wanted them to go.
The Saviors knew the group would eventually go back to The Hilltop. I wouldn’t be surprised if the leader of Hilltop sold Alexandria out to The Saviors. I guess that could be a major plot point for next season. Each stop and situation was more unnerving than the last, with the final chain gang of Walkers letting the group know The Saviors had some of their own. Every time they thought they had them beat they would still be standing in their way. The group have only seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Negan’s men and what they can do. They wanted to herd them and then shatter their world. They probably were following them from the time they left Alexandria. The question will be if they had another group waiting to attack Alexandria and how the city held together if they did.
To break up the story of Rick and the group we got the side story of Morgan and Carol. This was another entertaining portion of the episode. Carol doesn’t want to kill, but she knows she must to protect the people she cares about. She thinks Morgan should understand this more than anyone else in the group. Her words proved prophetic (go figure) and Morgan ended up killing to save her life. It was foreshadowed heavily, but at least they ended with a satisfying payoff with that storyline. We actually got to see Morgan kill the guy who was torturing Carol. They aren’t going to make us wait six months to find out if Morgan killed the guy and saved Carol, unlike the very end of the episode.
Jeffery Dean Morgan is perfect casting and his introduction was perfect. The tension and buildup of the scene was perfect. My stomach was in knots watching the scene. I almost didn’t want to watch. What would have happened if I would have decided to turn the channel and not watch? I wouldn’t have missed anything, because the showrunners of The Walking Dead decided to build an entire episode, almost an entire second half of a season, to a cliffhanger.
It’s lazy storytelling, and maybe we are starting to see some strains on material after the show has been on for six years. I wouldn’t think so since there is a plethora of material to mine from the comics. Cliffhangers can be used to help drive ratings, but how high do they need ratings to be? The show is one of the most highly rated on television today, they don’t need to drum up ratings. Maybe it’s money related. Maybe they are going to negotiate actor’s contracts after this season is up and they want some leverage over people who could prove troubling. I’m struggling to come up with a reason, because it makes no logical sense to build to one singulair point for almost an entire half of a season, and for it to end on a cliffhanger.
The entire episode was a buildup for one character to die. They gave hints or misdirects the entire ninety minutes about who was going to perish at the end of the night. Abraham talking about starting a life with Sasha. Eugene stepping up and driving off. Carl making the trip with the group. Maggie being sick with the baby. They had already setup Daryl being hurt, and Glen could die because he dies in the comics. A major cast member is leaving the show, but for some reason they couldn’t end the season on the death.
I loved Negan’s monologue. Jeffery Dean Morgan is equal parts charming and terrifying. That is hard to pull off, but he does it effortlessly. I am still excited to see what he does with the role next season, which makes the ending even more infuriating. I’m invested in the characters, and the story being told. They don’t need to end finales like this to keep me watching next season, or to keep me talking about the show during the break.  People are going to be talking about the ending, but not for good reasons. Everyone was already trying to figure out who was going to die in the episode. Not delivering in the finale is a cop out. The exact same way it was a cop out to have Glen survive his experience earlier in the season.

Overall the season was still good, probably one of the best. It’s not the best though, because of the way they ended it. Season three is still the high mark for the show, at least for me. Are you with me in being upset that the show ending on a cliffhanger? Did it ruin the season, or just the finale? Maybe you are okay with the cliffhanger and the way it ended. Comment and let me know.