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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Entertainment Round-Up: Supergirl Pulls A Smallville And Casts Dean Cain And Helen Slater, Lucifer Finds Its Lead, Thor And Aquaman Speak

Between some casting news and a few choice interviews, it was a busier 24 hours than most in the entertainment news cycle. Here are the headlines of interest for the weekend:

- CBS' Supergirl added a few Superman franchise vets yesterday as both Dean Cain (Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman) and Helen Slater (Supergirl, the movie) have signed on for the series. It isn't the first time these two have re-joined the DC Universe, both appeared in Smallville at different times: Cain as a Vandal Savage-like immortal scientist, and Slater as Lara-El. Their roles are being kept under wraps this time around.

- FOX's Lucifer has found its lead as well, as British thespian Tom Ellis (RushMiranda) will be playing the former Lord of Hell who now helps the LAPD punish criminals.

- On the Avengers: Age of Ultron side of things, we have some new character posters promoting the film including The Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, and Nick Fury:


Collider also has a great interview with Chris Hemsworth that's worth a look at if you're curious where Marvel may be taking Thor specifically. There's one bit of exchange I found interesting, where Hemsworth slightly hints at why Thor: The Dark World wasn't as necessarily successful as the first Thor:
What’s something Thor gets to do in this film that he hasn’t done before in the other fims? 
HEMSWORTH: He’s loosened up a bit. I think we lost some of the humor and the naïveté, that sort of fish out of water quality of Thor from the first film into the second one. There were things I loved about what we did in the second one too, tonally, but that sense of fun… I would have liked it to be there a bit more, and Joss I think felt the same way.  So there’s more humor in Thor or at least because he’s been on Earth, he’s a little more accessible now.  He’s off Asgard now so he doesn’t have to be as regal and kingly as he is in that world, which is nice. I enjoy that more.  It’s sort of a box, which is tough to step out of on Asgard.  You know, that stuff just looks out of place whereas here, he can have a gag with the guys and he can throw away lines and be a party scene with them in civilian clothes, which is nice.
- Speaking of regal superheroes, Jason Momoa chatted briefly with EW while promoting Sundance TV's The Red Road, and of course Aquaman came up. At one point he compares his DCU experience with that of Conan The Barbarian:
The whole mythology of Aquaman is pretty amazing. There’s so many things to tell, and there’s a whole backstory that’s just amazing. There’s a lot of surprises coming. I think, yeah, he’s been cast aside. But, um [laughs] times are going to change now, buddy. Conan was really hard, because you have 15 different types of fans and so many things to respect and honor. To do it right it’s got to be bloody-bloody-bloody-bloody-bloody, and not a lot of people go see that anymore. It’s not the ’80s anymore. It’s a really hard format. We busted ass, but there were a lot of cooks in the kitchen on that one. What’s great about this is Zack, man. We don’t want to just reinvent it, but he’s a got a whole idea of what Aquaman should be and I’m really honored to be playing it. I’m excited for the world to see it.
He also more or less confirmed that Aquaman's role in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is fairly small and filming for Justice League has not begun yet.
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Friday, February 27, 2015

Entertainment Round-Up: Blade Runner 2, Supergirl Gets A Potential Cyborg Superman, Daredevil, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Hooray, it's Friday! My weekend is going to be filled with Cowboy Bebop and early Miyazaki as I try to give anime a proper go. Hopefully your plans are even more fun! Here are your Friday morning headlines:

- It's now official, Harrison Ford is returning for a sequel to Blade Runner, and replacing Ridley Scott in the director's chair will be Academy Award nominated director Denis Villeneuve (Enemy, Prisoners). 

The new film will be scripted by Hampton Fancher, who co-wrote the original, and comics-scribe/Green Lantern screenwriter Michael Green (who is also working on the sequel to Prometheus). This story will take place several decades after the end of the first and is based on an idea of Scott and Fancher's. 

Does the world really need a sequel to Blade Runner? Probably not, and I say that as someone who thinks Blade Runner is the best science fiction film ever made. Though I can't help but be curious as to what Villeneuve may bring to the table visually. 

 - CBS' Supergirl continues to add to its cast as David Harewood (Homeland) will be joining the cast as Hank Henshaw, better known to comic fans as Cyborg Superman. In this series, Henshaw will be an ex-CIA agent that now heads up the Department of Extra-Normal Operations which monitors extraterrestrial threats to the planet. Sounds like an antagonist to me. 

The series has also enlisted Chyler Leigh (Grey's Anatomy) to play Alexandra "Alex" Danvers, Kara's adopted sister. It's worth noting, that every cast member added to Supergirl thus far has either been a female or a person of color, which I find to be a wonderfully exciting development. 

- By way of the folks at Latino Review, here are some new Daredevil images from Empire:
daredevil empire 8 daredevil empire 7 daredevil empire 6 daredevil empire 5 daredevil empire 4 daredevil empire 3daredevl empire 2 

- Last up, we have a nice poster by Gabrielle Dell'Oto for the upcoming March 3rd mid-season premiere of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. focusing on the changes occurring in Skye and Raina:

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

The CW Is Aiming For A Superhero Team-Up Series

It looks as though The CW is going to have its own Avengers after all, or at least a live-action Brave and the Bold style team-up show...

Deadline has reported tonight that the network is developing a multi-superhero series featuring some of the characters that have debuted in Arrow and The Flash, including The Atom (Brandon Routh), Firestorm (Victor Garber and Robbie Amell), Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller) and Black Canary (Caity Lotz). The latter is particularly odd, as Lotz's version of the character died this season on Arrow.

There must be a Lazarus Pit somewhere, or her stories are set in the past perhaps?

Also, the report states three new DC characters that haven't appeared yet in either existing series will debut in the new team-up show. Given that Vixen is appearing in a new animated series on CW Seed, it'd be a safe bet to assume that she might be one those referenced.

Greg BerlantiAndrew KreisbergMarc Guggenheim and Sarah Schechter will reported executive produce this new project, which may skip the pilot stage altogether and head straight to a series order.
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Do We Really Want A 'Genetic Sibling' of Aliens?

Recently, Neill Blomkamp released some interesting concept art on Instagram about his ideas for an Alien film, and the Internet got really excited. After the lackluster Prometheus, people were starved for a real Alien movie, and Blomkamp's images gave them a focal point. So now, Blomkamp's movie is happening, but that concept art - featuring long-dead character Hicks - suggested something now confirmed: Blomkamp wants to make a 'genetic sibling' to Aliens, ignoring the more controversial Alien3 and Alien Resurrection.

This is a monumentally dumb idea on a few different levels. After all, the Alien films have never been 'genetic siblings' of one another. Instead, Alien provided the template - a vicious triangle of humanity, corporate abuse, and the Xenomorph - that each film would explore in radically different ways.

Where Alien was the perfect horror film, patient and menacing, Aliens was a bombastic sci-fi action story without a lick of fear to be found. Instead of a small band of humans fighting one Xenomorph on their home turf, it was hundreds of Xenomorphs on their own turf fighting a small band of humans. They were different genres, with different locales, different types of casts, different endings. Alien3 was minimalist and nihilistic, a dour counterpoint to the more hopeful Alien and Aliens that showed the limits of how much one person could do to prevent chaos. In Alien3, heroes don't get to live to tell their tale. Finally, Alien Resurrection saw Joss Whedon bring a healthy dose of meta-commentary to the franchise while laying some thematic groundwork for Firefly. Indeed, Alien Resurrection mocks the very idea of Blomkamp's project, commenting explicitly on the ineffectual horror of trying to recreate and mass produce the alchemy of those first films.

Each film works, not only as a sequel, but as its own film. Each film is surprising, and each is the recognizable product of a strong, unique creative vision. 

At best, the series made cursory nods to traditional franchise filmmaking, specifically with Ripley. But, as much as I love Sigourney Weaver in her most iconic role, her story - from a gender neutral blue collar worker to surrogate mommy to genetic super-clone - is the weakest part of a very strong series of films, and Alien3 is a great conclusion for her. Eventually, the loopholes needed to explain how Ripley just kept getting into the same fight ate the franchise alive; making it more complicated certainly isn't going to solve that problem.

From everything he's put forth, Blomkamp's film is typical Hollywood franchise-building: What you already had, but more! It's the worst kind of sequel, the kind that's basically just bad fan fiction. It's also the kind of sequel Hollywood loves, easy to market, easy to churn out. Tellingly, despite how much money the Alien movies made over their lifetimes, it has taken over half a decade to make a sequel to each one. Why not get a fan of the previous one to... just do that again?

Blomkamp seems like a fairly talented director, and he may very well make an enjoyable Alien film. I sincerely hope he does, because I want to see the promise I saw in District 9 again. Perhaps his comments - "I want this film to feel like it is literally the genetic sibling of Aliens, so it's Alien, Aliens and then this film." - have been misconstrued, though that's... fairly blunt. Any of a thousand things could change between now and the not-yet-decided release date for a film that doesn't even have a script yet.

But if all he wants is just more Aliens, he'll be helping tear down one of the greatest film franchises in Hollywood history. I may not like every film in the series - Aliens and Alien Resurrection leave me pretty cold - but I love that each time I saw a new one, I knew I was in for a surprise. We have a hundred young directors who can do a subpar James Cameron impression, but we don't need another Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. We don't need a fan. We need a filmmaker who is willing to burn it all down to give us a great goddamn movie.
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Entertainment Round-Up: Aliens sequel, Fantastic Four, Spectre, Agent Carter

We're creeping ever so closer to the end of the week, here's your round-up of entertainment headlines for this morning!

- While on the press tour for his new film, ChappieNeill Blomkamp has, to no one's surprise, been receiving a number of questions about his recently announced Alien sequel. Having Sigourney Weaver on-hand as a part of the Chappie cast likely provided additional temptation in that regard. SkyMovies (via Collider) got some pretty great details out of him in a recent interview, where he discussed the continuity of the new film: 
I want this film to feel like it is literally the genetic sibling of Aliens, so it’s AlienAliens and then this film.
From the sounds of things, Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection are being wiped from continuity, which I have mixed feelings about if that is indeed how things play out. It didn't quite work for Superman Returns, and I'd be worried that it might lead to confusion here.

Blomkamp continued:
It’s a Freudian nightmare. That element to me is what is so appealing; to put the audience on the edge of their seat the whole time in a traditional, monster-stalking-you, dark-corridor-way. I love that. And then when you mix in all of the deign elements and the life cycle of the alien, it’s a powder keg of creativity for me.
Weaver also chimed in, basically confirming her involvement and the return of Ripley:
I would love to take Ripley out of sort of orbiting around in space and give a proper finish to what was such an excellent story. So when someone like Neill Blomkamp said, ‘Well, I’m interested in finishing the story,’ my little ears perked up… I think it’s a great series. It deserves a proper ending—I know the fans would love that.
Empire has some new photos of Miles TellerKate MaraMichael B. Jordan, and Jamie Bell from Fantastic Four:


Empire also brings us new Spectre images featuring Dave Bautista as henchman Mr. Hinx:


Bautista had this to say about taking on the role:
When I came over to meet Sam [Mendes], I only asked two questions. I asked him if Mr. Hinx was a badass. He said, ‘Yes, he’s a badass.’ I said, ‘Well, is Mr. Hinx intelligent?’ He said, ‘Very.’ That’s what I like about Mr. Hinx. He’s very well-dressed and very well-mannered. I’m not just here to fight people. He has a sense of humour. He definitely knows what a metaphor is.
Lea Seydoux also spoke to her new character, Dr. Madeleine Swann, seen below:
I don’t consider myself a Bond girl. I think I’m not really the stereotyped Bond girl. I feel quite different. You can’t be like, ‘Oh, James.’ You have to find something else. She’s not a fighter, she’s a doctor. She fights in another way.

- Lastly, Steven Markus and Christopher McFeely spoke with Entertainment Weekly (spoilers at the link) about Agent Carter's finale, indicating that if a Season 2 were to happen they'd like to focus on Peggy's background further:
MARKUS: When we were figuring out the show and the backstory of the show, we had a really nice story about who Peggy is and where she came from. We just didn’t have any time. I would love to tell that story. 
MCFEELY: That’s one of our strongest ideas for the second season: What makes Peggy, Peggy? We like what Peggy is, but if you ask some hard questions, you might wonder: but why is she that way? We have some thoughts on that.
Sadly, the future of the series is in doubt given its ratings struggle. This week's finale only pulled a 1.3 in the 18-49 demo, which on ABC is not a good sign.
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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Comics Spotlight Review: Spider-Gwen #1

In Spider-Verse, Marvel had an event that brought Spider-Men from their many alternate dimensions together for one giant battle. Many of the stand-out characters were already known to audiences - Long Live Spider-Ham? - but in Edge of Spider-Verse #2, Jason Latour introduced 'Spider-Gwen', essentially a 'What If...' character that suggested a universe where Gwen Stacy, not Peter Parker, was bit by that radioactive spider. Gwen took off fast and hard, her issue of Edge of Spider-Verse currently in its fourth printing, so it only makes sense to strike while the iron is hot. So Jason Latour, Robbi Rodriguez and Rico Renzi are back with Spider-Gwen #1, which follows Gwen's adventures in her own universe.

When last we saw Gwen Stacy, she had revealed her secret identity to her father, the police captain who was hunting her for the death of Peter Parker, before vanishing to fight in an interdimensional war. She's returned now, to find the police still on her tail, the Kingpin still interested in her, and her band - the Mary Janes - hitting it big without her. Now, a new menace sweeps the streets as the Vulture premieres with a grudge against New York's only(?) superhero and she tries to pick up the pieces of her old life.

This is the stuff of classic 60s and 70s Spider-Man, all very well done. Recent years have found a lot of new life in those old tropes, particularly in John Rogers' Blue Beetle and G. Willow Wilson's Ms. Marvel, which means that Spider-Gwen feels a little bit less like a breath of fresh air than it would have in the aughts. Jason Latour's plotting is fairly strong, managing to work in a number of personal plotlines that give Gwen's home-life a bit more heft while still setting up a more standard superhero adventure, though you'll probably want to read Edge of Spider-Verse #2 first, since almost all of these conflicts jump off of the events of that book. 

If the book's writing has any issues, it's that it's all far too familiar; Spider-Gwen doesn't really have a hook beyond 'girl Peter Parker'. Gwen is cooler than Peter, certainly, but the conflicts are basically the same, and Spider-Gwen #1 doesn't really suggest a new way forward - though that only really matters to readers who have been immersed in these stories for years. New readers will almost certainly be charmed; Spider-Gwen is well-made, an enjoyable book with an engaging heroine.

Robbi Rodriguez has a lively, energetic style that gives Gwen and her world a lot of energy, a blend of the physicality of Stuart Immonen and the cartoonish warmth of Rafael Albuquerque. The heart of pretty much every good Spider-Man story - and this is very much in that vein - lies in conveying intense emotion and energy without seeing the character's face, and Rodriguez gives Gwen a desperately relatable physical personality. And he works great with Rico Renzi, who gives the book a color palette dominated by purples, pinks, and magentas, allowing splashes of brighter color to stand out against a vibrant cityscape.

While Spider-Gwen is pretty much the definition of basic, there's still a huge audience for that. Latour never gets tunnel vision and makes sure to keep Gwen's supporting cast active and involved, while Rodriguez and Renzi offer up lively, inventive art and some stellar costume-design (seriously, Gwen's costume is a goddamn masterpiece, simple and eye-catching). Spider-Gwen #1 is well-made, a strong follow-up to its much-loved Edge of Spider-Verse predecessor. While it has a hard time standing out from the pack of like-minded books, particularly Marvel's own Ms. Marvel and Silk, Latour and Co. haven't lost a step in crafting an enjoyable new teen superhero comic.

Spider-Gwen #1 was written by Jason Latour, illustrated by Robbi Rodriguez, colored by Rico Renzi, and lettered by VC's Clayton Cowles. Published by Marvel Comics on February 25th, Spider-Gwen #1 has a cover price of $3.99.
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Robert Downey Jr Teases A Big Announcement In 8 Days

Coming off of the somewhat mixed reaction to the new Avengers: Age of Ultron poster that was released yesterday, Robert Downey Jr. tweeted out an Iron Man-based poster for the film. Additionally, he teased that a big announcement is coming in 8 days:
What would qualify as a big announcement here? The obvious answer would be that Spider-Man has been cast, and the announcement yesterday that Danny Elfman would be providing additional music for Avengers: Age of Ultron has some wondering if we might be seeing Spider-Man sooner than we think. For those who may not recall, Elfman composed the score for the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films. Then again, he also scored the Ang Lee Hulk, so any deduction there may be pointless. 

I wouldn't hang my hopes on it, but a post-credits scene might not be out of the question...let's see what a week from now brings us.
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