HBO’s “Fahrenheit 451” is All Smoke, No Flame

mv5bzmm1zgjkzdgtnzblns00yjkyltk3ngetztixmgvkmtk2yjg1xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymtmxodk2otu-_v1_sy1000_sx675_al_Where there’s smoke, there is often flame. Unfortunately, HBO’s new adaptation of the classic novel, Fahrenheit 451, is all smoke and no flame. Adapted by Amir Nader and Ramin Bahrani, from the original novel by Ray Bradbury, and directed by Ramin Bahrani, Fahrenheit 451 is this weird mixture of being a modern adaptation and an original story featuring a few of the characters from the book.

Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon star in Fahrenheit 451. Directed by Ramin Bahrani and written by Bahrani and Amir Naderi, the film is a modern adaption of Ray Bradbury’s classic novel. It depicts a future where the media is an opiate, history is rewritten and “firemen” burn books. Jordan plays Montag, a young fireman who struggles with his role as law enforcer as he battles his mentor, fire captain Beatty, played by Shannon. Sofia Boutella also stars as Clarisse, an informant caught between the competing interests of Montag and Beatty. Other cast members include YouTube star Lilly Singh, who plays a tabloid reporter named Raven, tasked with spreading propaganda and broadcasting the firemens’ book-burning raids.

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“The Happytime Murders” Trailer is a Hot Mess

Alongside the release of Deadpool 2, STX Entertainment has released the first trailer for their upcoming adult-oriented puppet-noir film from the Jim Henson Company, The Happytime Murders. Written by Todd Berger and directed by Brian Henson, The Happytime Murders has been advertised as a Muppets version of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and had languished in development hell for years before finally being picked up by STX Entertainment. The good news is that there’s finally a trailer and hard proof that this film actually exists. The bad news is that the trailer is a hot mess. Like, it’s a really bad trailer, both in terms of pure entertainment/quality and also being an accurate representation of the film. According to Wikipedia, the plot of the film is as follows:

173811_800x1045In a world where puppets co-exist with humans as second class citizens, Phil Phillips (Bill Barretta), puppet private eye and disgraced ex-cop, is hot on the trail of the serial killer who murdered his brother and is now targeting the cast members of the 1980s television series The Happytime Gang. As the killings continue, Jenny (Elizabeth Banks), Phil’s former flame, is next on the list. It’s up to Phil and Detective Edwards (Melissa McCarthy), his ex-partner, to find the culprit, but as bad blood and old resentments resurface, the clues start pointing to the only viable suspect: Phil himself. Now he’s on the run with only his wits and hard-headed determination as he and his partner attempt to solve the Happytime Murders.

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Season 2 of “Timeless” Finds its Groove with “The Salem Witch Hunt” (S02E04 – REVIEW)

Timeless - Season 2

TIMELESS — “The Salem Witch Hunt” Episode 204 — Pictured: (l-r) Michael Barrett as Rufus Carlin, Abigail Spencer as Lucy Preston, Goran Visnjic as Garcia Flynn — (Photo by Patrick Wymore/NBC)

It only took four episodes, but season 2 of Timeless finally delivers an episode that lives up to the promise of its premise. Written by Kent Rotherham and directed by Guy Ferland, The Salem Witch Hunt follows the Time Team as they travel back to Salem Massachusetts, 1693. While Wyatt (Matt Lanter) sneaks away from the bunker to face an unbelievable truth, Lucy (Abigail Spencer), Rufus (Malcolm Barrett) and their former enemy-turned- teammate, Garcia Flynn (Goran Visnjic), chase the Mothership to the Salem Witch Trials. There they must prevent the execution of a headstrong young woman – Abiah (guest star Sofia Vassilieva), who, it turns out, is the mother of one of the most consequential Americans of all time – the yet to be born Benjamin Franklin. When Lucy is accused of being a witch, the team rallies together to save Abiah, Lucy, and all the other accused women. (This review features spoilers for this episode.)  (more…)

A Hollywood Caper That’s Not Quite as Exiting as It Should Be (Timeless – S02E03: “Hollywoodland” REVIEW)

Timeless - Season 2

TIMELESS — “Hollywoodland” Episode 203 — Pictured: (l-r) Malcolm Barrett as Rufus Carlin, Abigail Spencer as Lucy Preston, Matt Lanter as Wyatt Logan — (Photo by Justin Lubin/NBC)

Timeless continues to be a bit of a mixed bag. On paper, I really like this episode. In execution, it’s better than the previous episode (The Darlington 500) but still not as good as it should be. Much of that is down to the fact that the stakes are never clearly defined and the motivations of key characters are underexplored – but more on that soon. Written by Matt Whitney and directed by John Showalter, Hollywoodland is the third episode of the second season of Timeless. When a Rittenhouse sleeper agent in 1941 Hollywood steals the only copy of Citizen Kane, Lucy (Abigail Spencer), Wyatt (Matt Lanter) and Rufus (Malcolm Barrett) team up with Hedy Lamarr (guest star Alyssa Sutherland) to get it back. Hedy Lamarr turns out to be not only a glamorous movie star but also a scientific wizard whose discoveries led to the invention of Wi-Fi. (This review features spoilers for the episode.)  (more…)

A Tale of Three ‘Shada’s (Doctor Who – “Shada” review)

A Tale of Three ShadasShada. The long lost adventure from famed sci-fi writer Douglas Adams. Over the years since its aborted filming, the adventure has undergone no less than three separate adaptations. The question is: which Shada is the ultimate Shada? With the release of another version of the story, it’s becoming harder and harder to figure that out, so let’s break it down in a Tale of Three ‘Shada’s. Originally written by famed author – and one-time Doctor Who script editor – Douglas Adams, Shada follows the Doctor and Romana, his Time Lady companion, as they investigate a mysterious summons from an old friend of the Doctor, Cambridge Professor Chronotis, and work to thwart the plans of the evil Skagra – a man seeking the Professor, and a book he possesses, for his own evil ends. Their adventure will take them from 1970s Earth to a mysterious Time Lord prison planet that nobody can remember: Shada. Beware Skagra. Beware the Sphere. Beware Shada. For this review, we’re gonna be looking at three particular adaptations of Shada: the 2003 BBC-i/Big Finish Productions webcast/audio adaptation, the 2012 novelization (by Gareth Roberts), and the 2017 BBC animated reconstruction.  (more…)

“Rise” is flawed, but mostly good.

Rise - Season 1Rise is definitely a mixed bag. In some ways, it’s exactly the kind of show you’d expect from the creator of Parenthood. In other ways, it doesn’t hold a candle to the quality of that show. That being said, Rise is an enjoyable show with a pilot that does a poor job selling the show’s qualities. From Jason Katims, executive producer and showrunner of “Friday Night Lights” and “Parenthood,” and “Hamilton” producer Jeffrey Seller, comes a heartening new drama about finding inspiration in unexpected places. When dedicated teacher Lou Mazzuchelli (Josh Radnor) sheds his own self-doubt and takes over the school’s lackluster theater department, he galvanizes not only the faculty and students but the entire working-class town. The cast includes Josh Radnor, Rosie Perez, Auli’i Cravalho, Damon J. Gillespie, Marley Shelton, Rarmian Newton, Ted Sutherland, Amy Forsyth, Casey W. Johnson, Taylor Richardson, Joe Tippett, and Shirley Rumierk. This review contains very minor and vague spoilers for the show (no major spoilers will be revealed, but general elements from the entire season will be discussed)  (more…)

The New “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” Trailer is All Kinds of Awesome

Warner Brothers just released a trailer for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and it’s all kinds of awesome. It’s been nearly five months since the reveal of the title of the film and that promotional image of the cast, so we’ve all been kind of starved for any real footage or news of the film and this trailer fully delivers. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is the sequel to 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and is written by J.K. Rowling and directed by David Yates. It follows Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol), and Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) as they travel to Paris in order to track down Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) under the request of Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law).

CredenceThis trailer does everything a good teaser trailer should do: it teases us. It shows just enough to whet our appetites but not enough to actually ruin the film too much. I really like that the trailer didn’t rely solely on nostalgia. It opened with a nostalgic shot of Hogwarts and featured a lot of Dumbledore, but that was basically where the nostalgia ended. It was a nice way of reminding people who maybe weren’t totally on board with the previous film that this is still part of the Harry Potter universe (now rebranded as the Wizarding World). I also like how colorful this film looks in comparison to the last one. I loved the last movie, but man did it have a pretty bleak color palette. This one seems to have a much brighter and more colorful one, so that’s nice.

dumbledore 2Speaking of Dumbledore, there’s a lot of him in the trailer and Jude Law is absolutely killing it as Dumbledore. It’s gonna take me a bit of time to fully get used to him in the role, but he’s doing a spectacular job. There’s a line he has towards the beginning of the trailer where he says something along the lines of “If you’ve ever had Newt in a class, you know he doesn’t take orders” and it was such a Dumbledore thing to say and it made me smile so much. Interestingly, there’s very little Grindelwald in the trailer. I wonder if it’s to avoid the controversy around Johnny Depp’s casting for a little bit considering how that blew up after he was so prominently featured in the promotional picture from November. There’s about one shot of him in the trailer and he’s nearly unrecognizable. Which is good. If Johnny Depp can stop being Johnny Depp for about three seconds, he could actually deliver an interesting performance. I’d have still preferred just have Colin Farrel as Grindelwald, but such is life.

DYLpLo-W4AAE1KbUltimately, I loved this trailer. It did its job in getting me super excited for the movie. It was well edited and structured, showed off how beautiful the film looks, teased just enough while withholding enough to still be mysterious, and overall just felt magical. It reminded me why I love the Wizarding World franchise so much. For all its hits and misses, it still brings me joy in the way it did when I was a kid. It’s not perfect and the filmmakers often make mistakes and questionable decisions, but I still love it. This trailer reminded me of the best things about the franchise and has successfully gotten me super excited for the next installment.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald lands in theaters on November 16, 2018.

“Timeless” continues to be enjoyable, if a bit messy (Timeless S02E01 – “The War to End All Wars”)

Timeless - Season 2I love a good time travel based show – I mean, I’m in an eternal love affair with Doctor Who for Pete’s sake – and Timeless is a pretty good time travel show. It has its ups and downs, for sure, but at the end of the day, it’s a pretty enjoyable show. From Eric Kripke (“Revolution,” “Supernatural”) and Shawn Ryan (“The Shield”), Season 2 of this thrilling action-adventure series will pick up right where we left off with our heroes in the explosive Season 1 finale. We continue to race throughout history with our beloved team: Rufus (Malcolm Barrett), a scientist; Wyatt (Matt Lanter), a soldier; and Lucy (Abigail Spencer), a history professor, in an attempt to prevent the destruction of our world as we all know it.  This season they’ll find an unlikely ally in their quest to ruin Rittenhouse, a deadly organization with plans to change history and reshape reality — even though Lucy’s family has been a part of Rittenhouse for centuries.  Still making every effort not to affect the past themselves, they will visit 1692, 1917, 1941, 1981 and more.  We’ll be introduced to the likes of Marie Curie, Hedy Lamarr, William Randolph Hearst and a multitude of other influential people throughout history. (This review will contain spoilers for all of season 1 and the first episode of season 2)  (more…)

“I, Tonya” is a Tour de Force for Margot Robbie and Allison Janey (Mini-Review)

mv5bmji5mdy1njyzml5bml5banbnxkftztgwnjizndaxndm-_v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_I don’t know that I, Tonya (written by Steven Rogers and directed by Craig Gillespie) every fully comes together as a film, but it’s a massively enjoyable two hours, for sure.  It’s mainly due to extraordinary performances from the cast – especially Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding and Allison Janey as her mother, LaVona Golden – that the film ends up being as good as it is. Narratively, it’s a bit all over the place. Both the framing of the story – as though the filmmakers are interviewing the people involved in the plot – and the occasional literal interruption of scenes by the various characters breaking the fourth wall to address the audience are very clever and give the film a sense of humor and narrative thrust the whole film. I wanna be clear that I, Tonya is a very enjoyable film. The actors are great, the dialogue is witty and sharp, the script is often very clever and very funny, and the cinematography is frequently stunning – especially during the scenes reenacting one of Tonya Harding’s figure skating performances.

mv5bnjm5n2y1nzutmju4os00nda3lwfhymytnjrhotq3zjg5njc0xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynjuwnzk3ndc-_v1_sy1000_sx1500_al_I just don’t know that the actual plot of the film ever fully comes together. I’m not sure what the movie was trying to say about the whole Nancy Kerrigan incident. I think the film was operating under the assumption that Harding, herself, was mostly innocent, and the whole thing was the fault of her ex-husband Jeff (Sebastian Stan) and his idiot friend Shawn (Paul Walter Hauser). This thesis would make sense in the context of the film as a frequent, recurring theme is how Tonya never takes responsibility for her own actions. Her poor scores are always someone else’s fault; anytime anything goes wrong, it’s never her fault. So, maybe the film is extending that theme to cover the Nancy Kerrigan incident. It’s not Tonya’s fault that it happened, even though she knew about it. I just don’t think the film really makes that clear. Still, even if the film doesn’t ever completely come together narratively and thematically, it’s still a lot of fun. It’s funny, beautiful to look at, filled with impressive performances from talented actors and actresses, and it’s a good way to spend two hours.

(3.5 out of 5 wands)

The Trailer for “Solo: A Star Wars Story” Does Not Look Promising

Disney and Lucasfilm have released the first trailer for Solo: A Star Wars Story and it doesn’t look all that good. It’s kind of a mess, to be honest. Alden Ehrenreich doesn’t feel remotely like Han Solo in this trailer and it’s easily apparent why Disney reportedly had to hire an acting coach for him for this film. The visuals are nice, and Donald Glover as Lando looks like a lot of fun, but otherwise, it just looks kinda meh. Star Wars has gotten great at producing great trailers and mediocre movies and nothing in this trailer gives me the impression that Solo: A Star Wars Story is about to change that. I’m not sure if the film is setting out to be a comedy or an action movie (or both), but if it’s a comedy, it seems even stranger that Lucasfilm fired the original directors of the movie, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, given their comedic background. I dunno really what to make of this trailer or the movie. The movie utterly failed at piquing my interest or making me excited for the movie. Unless the quality of future trailers increases dramatically, I won’t be seeing this film in theaters.

A more in-depth review of the trailer can be found on my YouTube channel or in the video below: