movies

History is More Magical Than You Think (“Harry Potter: A History of Magic book/BBC Documentary REVIEW) 

Harry-Potter-A-History-of-Magic-CoverI’m only a month late in talking about this, but what’s a month or two between friends? Two books, a BBC Two documentary, and an entire museum exhibit. These are the latest developments in the Harry Potter universe (as of October 2017) as the British Library launches its look into the real-life history of magic and how it intercepts J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World. As a fan of both the Wizarding World and really great museum exhibits, I have to say that this excited me. I haven’t been able to go to the actual museum exhibit (as it’s in London and I am not), but I have read the official book of the exhibit: Harry Potter: A History of Magic and see the accompanying BBC Two Documentary. And it’s fab. Harry Potter: A History of Magic explores the intersection of history and fantasy. It’s common knowledge that much of J.K. Rowling’s world-building in the Wizarding World series originates from real history and myth, but just how much of it was real? Harry Potter: A History of Magic seeks to answer that question, and answer it, it does – with lots of panache. (more…)

Time To Wait for the Ultimate Cut of Justice League – Because It’s Clear There is One (“Justice League” (2017) REVIEW)

mv5bndgwnjmwnjm1ov5bml5banbnxkftztgwnja2njk5mzi-_v1_Man, I desperately wanted to like this. I will go to my grave defending Batman v Superman (particularly the Ultimate Edition, where the story actually made sense), but Justice League is, unfortunately, a bit of a mess. A fairly enjoyable – at times – mess, but a mess, nonetheless, and I’m not sure whose fault it is. Directed by Zack Snyder (with substantial reshoots and editing supervised by Joss Whedon) and written by Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon, Justice League is the DCEU’s equivalent of 2012’s The Avengers (also directed by Whedon). It brings the mightiest DC superheroes – Batman (Ben Affleck), Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), The Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher), and Superman (Henry Cavill) – together for the first time as they team up to defend the earth from an intergalactic – and multi-dimensional? – threat: Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds). (Mild spoilers ahead)  (more…)

The Next Fantastic Beasts Film Will Explore “The Crimes of Grindelwald”

FNBST2_First_Look_3000x1800-R01We finally have a title for the second film in the Fantastic Beasts series: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. That, alone, is a lot to unpack. But Warner Brothers marketing, never being one to skimp out on goodies for fans, also unveiled a new promo image for the film featuring our first look at the new and returning characters! And, oh boy, it’s a doozy. I wish WB had released a trailer today (it would have made smart marketing sense; Justice League, another WB film, releases in theaters this weekend and it would only make sense for WB to attach the trailer for next year’s blockbuster for the studio with this year’s blockbuster for the studio, but, alas, I do not head the marketing team). Either way, finally having a title and a first look at the cast is a really nice thing and I’m eager to break it all down. (more…)

REVIEW: Thor Ragnarok

mv5bmjmyndkzmzi1of5bml5banbnxkftztgwodcxodg5mji-_v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_Better late than never, I suppose. At least Thor: Ragnarok ended up being the best Thor film that Marvel has produced thus far. Directed by Taika Waititi and written by Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, and Christopher Yost, Thor: Ragnarok follows our favorite God of Thunder, Thor (Chris Hemsworth), as he faces off against his sister, Hela (Cate Blanchett), and the imminent threat of Ragnarok: the ultimate destruction of Asgard. Thor’s world is about to explode. His devious brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), has taken over Asgard, the powerful Hela has emerged to steal the throne for herself and Thor is imprisoned on the other side of the universe. To escape captivity and save his home from imminent destruction, Thor must first win a deadly alien contest by defeating his former ally and fellow Avenger – The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). (As always, spoilers may follow)  (more…)

Disney Just Doesn’t Know When to Stop: A New Star Wars Trilogy from Rian Johnson AND a New Live Action Star Wars TV Series for Disney’s Streaming Service

1200px-star_wars_logo-svgSigh. In case anybody really had hopes that Disney wouldn’t turn Star Wars into an oversaturated MCU-style franchise of movies and TV series, consider those hopes dashed.

Today, Disney announced an all-new trilogy of Star Wars films from Rian Johnson. This new trilogy will be complete unconnected to the Skywalker Saga films (aka the main “Episodes”) and will be in addition to the seemingly endless onslaught of stand-alone Star Wars films (which really didn’t get off to a great start with the utterly mediocre Rogue One and doesn’t look to be getting any better with the utter catastrophe that was the production of Solo, what with the firing of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller as the directors of the film and the reshooting of essentially the entire movie).

And, if that wasn’t enough, it was also announced that Disney would be premiering a live-action Star Wars TV series on their upcoming streaming platform (think along the lines of CBS All Access) in 2019.

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REVIEW: Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Trailer #2)

Just a bit ago, a new trailer for the upcoming Star Wars: The Last Jedi dropped, and I have some thoughts about it. Directed by Rian Johnson, Star Wars: The Last Jedi continues the story began in JJ Abram’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Picking up where The Force Awakens left off, The Last Jedi finds Rey (Daisy Ridley) having just found Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) on the planet Ahch-To. With Rey having taken her first steps into the larger Star Wars universe, The Last Jedi follows her as she continues her journey alongside Finn (John Boyega), Poe (Oscar Isaac), and General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher). As always, further details on the plot are under lock and key, though this trailer seems to provide some more information on that front.  (more…)

REVIEW: Blade Runner 2049 (Spoiler free)

mv5bnza1njg4nzyxov5bml5banbnxkftztgwodk5nju3mzi-_v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_It’s certainly a Blade Runner film. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say it’s even better than the first. May the internet mob spare my life. Directed by Denis Villeneuve and written by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green, Blade Runner 2049 picks up thirty years after the first film. In those thirty years, the original Nexus brand of Replicants rebelled and a caused a massive blackout that led to the prohibition of al Replicants and the bankruptcy of the Tyrell Corporation. In swept Niander Wallace (Jared Leto), purchasing the remains of the Tyrell Corporation. Wallace invented a new line of Replicants, ensuring they would always obey their masters. Eventually, he got the prohibition lifted and things returned to the way they were. As Blade Runner: 2049 opens, Officer K (Ryan Gosling), a Blade Runner (who is also a Replicant) is on a mission to retire a rogue Replicant, Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista), and uncovers evidence of a conspiracy that stretches all the way back to the events of the first film and its titular Blade Runner, Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford). (Very mild spoilers may follow)  (more…)

The Art of Adaptation – A Thoroughly Modern Essay

We’ve all seen good adaptations of things we love and we’ve all seen bad ones. But what, exactly, makes an adaptation good? For the past… pretty much forever… Hollywood, in particular, has been adapting anything it could get its hands on. From books, to tv, to theatre, to video games, Hollywood loves adaptations. The problem is that the adaptations are often not very good at all. You see this with books, like Eragon and the Percy Jackson series and TV shows like Dark Shadows and Video Games like Assassin’s Creed and musicals like RENT and even anime like Death Note and Ghost in the Shell.

The question becomes, why are there so many lousy adaptations? Especially when most of them are based on properties that are really well made in their original mediums? Where is the disconnect?

Contrary to popular belief, there really is an art to adaptation. There are four key things that a good adaptation must adhere to. Respect for the source material and characters, not being a slave to the source material, knowing what to change and what to keep, and telling a story in the most cohesive and interesting way that utilizes the best of what the specific medium has to offer.

Bad adaptations, usually get at least one of those key things wrong, if not more than one of them. So, let’s explore them more in depth and see if we can’t figure out how to go about making a good adaptation.  (more…)

REVIEW: It (2017)

mv5bote0nweyndytywi5mc00mwy0ltg1ndctzjawmjkymwjinzk1xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynjk5nda3otk-_v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_Yeah, yeah, I know. It’s more than a week late, but what can I say? I’m a college student and getting to the movies isn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world, but I’ve seen the movie now, and it was pretty solid! It is a new adaptation of the novel of the same name by Stephen King, written by Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, and Gary Dauberman and directed by Andy Muschietti. In 1989, sparked by the mysterious disappearance of Georgie Denbrough (Jackson Robert Scott), a group of kids – known as the Losers Club – investigate the history of their town and uncover a dark secret. Every 27 years, the town of Derry, Maine is plagued by mysterious deaths, and at the center of it all appears to be a clown named Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård). The Losers Club bands together to stop the demonic entity known as Pennywise the Dancing Clown from wreaking further havoc on their town. There’s only one problem: Pennywise can take the form of whatever scares them the most. Can they face their deepest fears and take It down? (Spoilers follow)  (more…)

REVIEW – Death Note (2017)

mv5byzk5zjfhztutyzflmy00mdq0lwe5ogqtztk0ywq3yjdkn2u2xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymzgzmju4njm-_v1_sy1000_cr006661000_al_On the bright side, it’s not awful. It’s not really all that good, either, though. Which is a shame since there’s really a lot of potential in the movie. And it’s even more frustrating since the movie is clearly set up for sequels that I’m not sure it’s gonna get considering the quality of this film. Death Note is Netflix’s latest original movie and is a somewhat loose adaptation of the Manga of the same name written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata. In Netflix’s adaptation (written by Charles Parlapanides, Vlas Parlapanides, and Jeremy Slater and directed by Adam Wingard), the action is moved from Japan to Seattle and follows Light Turner (Nat Wolff), a bright student, stumbles across a mystical notebook (and the god of death that accompanies it, Ryuk (voice and facial motion capture by William Dafoe, physical actions by Jason Liles)) that has the power to kill any person whose name he writes in it. Light decides to launch a secret crusade to rid the streets of criminals. Soon, the student-turned-vigilante finds himself pursued by a famous detective known only by the alias L (Lakeith Stanfield). (As always, this will contain spoilers.) 

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