DC’s Doom Patrol Comes To TV

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Just last week DC Comics’ nascent streaming service, DC Universe, announced they would produce a Superman prequel series, Metropolis, and a Swamp Thing live-action series as part of its initial programming. Now the channel has ordered a 13 episode run of Doom Patrol.

Originally created by Arnold Drake, Bob Haney and Bruno Premiani in 1963 (with several different incarnations over the years), the series is described as a re-imagining of one of DC’s more offbeat teams, featuring Robotman, Negative Man, Elasti-Girl and Crazy Jane, led by modern-day mad scientist Dr. Niles Caulder (The Chief).

The characters come together after suffering horrible accidents, and are mobilized into action by The Chief, who gives them new purpose as they investigate weird phenomena and protect Earth. The show will be a spin-off from DC’s previously announced Titans live-action series.

Berlanti Productions will produce in association with Warner Bros. Television. Greg Berlanti’s company already produces Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Black Lighting, Legends of TomorrowRiverdale and Titans.

Doom Patrol will go into production later this year for a 2019 launch. That’s going to be a whole lot of DC related content by next year. Let’s hope the quality of the shows is as good as, or better than, The Flash and Supergirl, and that there’s a hunger from the public for so much super-hero TV…

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Black Brings Back The Predator

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Let’s get this clear: I straight-up love Shane Black and the original Schwarzenegger Predator is a stone-cold classic!

The following Predator movies are mostly harmless fun of varying quality (though there’s not really any need to speak again of the execrable Aliens vs Predator movies, right!?) so while we might not actually need another movie featuring the unearthly hunters,  having Black at the helm raises the  anticipation levels considerably.

The first trailer has just dropped, so see what you think and we’ll talk more after:

This doesn’t set my pulse racing, but it does intrigue me. Black’s trademark snappy dialogue is certainly in place and bringing the Predator to surburbia is a concept ripe for gnarly fun. And let’s face it, the (uncredited) co-screenwriter of the original Predator is certainly more equipped than most to shape another go round with these guys and has yet to deliver an unsatisfying movie – though I’m going to be mighty disappointed if there isn’t at least one scene set at Christmas.

I’m giving this the benefit of the doubt and betting on Black to deliver suitable thrills and chills. The Predator will be unleashed on September 14th.

Tarantino Casts Everybody In …Hollywood

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News just in via Birth.Movies.Death reveals that the cast for Quentin Tarantino’s latest, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood just keeps getting more and more delicious!

Joining the already-announced trio of Leonard DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie are Tim Roth, Michael Madsen and Kurt Russell (with or without moustache has yet to be announced, Kurtache watchers). Even more exciting is the announcement that this stellar line-up will be joined by Hollywood legend, Burt Reynolds!

The new Tarantino film is set (in Hollywood, as per the title) in the summer of 1969, and the few story details released so far tell us the story will revolve around the former star of a western TV series and his longtime stunt double (DiCaprio and Pitt, respectively). DiCaprio’s neighbour in the film is Robbie, portraying actress Sharon Tate (then wife of film director, Roman Polanski), who was, of course, brutally murdered by cult leader Charles Manson’s followers. The ranch at which the cult resided was run by George Spahn, now to be played by Reynolds.

Frankly, this project just keeps sounding more and more exciting. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood will be released on August 9, 2019, the 50th anniversary of the Tate-LaBianca murders. Expect no small amount of controversy nearer the release.

This Woman’s Work – The Return of The Handmaid’s Tale

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The Handmaid’s Tale returns to television for a second season, amid much hand-wringing about the very need for a continuation and fears of over-extending the natural life of – let’s not kid ourselves – one of the finest pieces of drama ever created for the medium.

Margaret Atwood’s book is no easy read, and the television show is likewise a tough watch – which speaks to the power of its message and the power of its drama, of course, but both have much to say and the show features an embarrassment of riches across the production board, from casting to direction. Elisabeth Moss, eminently watchable in anything, is mesmerizing here, often speaking more with a sustained close-up than reams of pages of dialogue could ever articulate.

And so these worries of diluting something so perfect are not without reason, of course. The first season is a dark gem of narrative, self-sustained and as satisfying as something so horrific can be. Did we really need to see what happened to Offred after she climbed into the back of that van? Do we even want to spend more time in Atwood’s dystopian world – which, like the very best speculative fiction skews uncomfortably close to the world we live in – and suffer more with these characters?

If the first two episodes of the second season are an indicator the answer is a resounding yes. Of course two episodes is not enough to give an overview of the journey viewers will be taken on but the first episode alone contains one of the single most powerful moments of the entire run to date.

I’ll stay firmly in non-spoiler territory, but the moment is such an incredibly produced, terrible and sublime mixture of pathos, horror and humour, that you can’t help but feel we’re in safe hands. Accompanied by the ghostly wails of Kate Bush and This Woman’s Work (see? You’re sold already, right?), it was genuinely difficult to know the proper reaction – outrage, sadness, laughter…? All of the preceeding, actually.

Any piece of dramatic fiction that produces such a complex and literally breathtaking mixture of feelings, and which also engages lively conversation, lingering still two days after viewing, proves the production is still worthy of trust and gets my full support.

So far at least, the return of The Handmaid’s Tale is very welcome and the hand-wringing can pause.

Netflix’s Sabrina The Teenage Witch Gets Chilling

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The forthcoming reboot of Sabrina The Teenage Witch today got an official title, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

The news came from Entertainment Weekly, via Sabrina executive producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s Twitter feed, which also gave us the first look at the character, played by Kiernan Shipka (from Mad Men).

This is exciting as the show is supposedly based upon the recent run of comic books – bearing the same title – from Archie Horror (oh yes, the creators of Archie and Betty & Veronica do horror comics), and if that’s the case we could be in for a fun ride – the comics come highly recommended.

Sabrina, played by Melissa Joan Hart in the 90s sitcom, veers closer now towards gothic horror in the new comics, and this promises to be an intruiging take on that material.

“It’s official! Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is our title! Something wicked this way comes” tweeted Aguirre-Sacasa.

Sabrina will grace our Netflix screens later this year, already pre-booked for two seasons, and will also star Miranda Otto, Lucy Davis, Ross Lynch, and presumably, a much better animatronic/CGI version of Salem, the cat.

Source: Entertainment Weekly

Castle Rock – “This Place” Trailer Unnerves…

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The Stephen King screen renaissance seems set to continue (we’ll conveniently ignore The Dark Tower) with a new series, coming from Hulu this summer.

The network has the very welcome team of King and producer J.J. Abrams working on Castle Rock, from Warner Bros. TV and Abrams’ Bad Robot, and here’s the latest trailer to unnerve you…

The official synopsis for the show reads:

“A psychological-horror series set in the Stephen King multiverse, Castle Rock combines the mythological scale and intimate character storytelling of King’s best-loved works, weaving an epic saga of darkness and light, played out on a few square miles of Maine woodland. The fictional Maine town of Castle Rock has figured prominently in King’s literary career: CujoThe Dark HalfIT, and Needful Things, as well as novella “The Body” and numerous short stories such as “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption” are either set there or contain references to Castle Rock. Castle Rock is an original suspense/thriller — a first-of-its-kind reimagining that explores the themes and worlds uniting the entire King canon, while brushing up against some of his most iconic and beloved stories.”

If that sets your pulse racing as much as it does mine then we can all settle down together on the sofa when the show drops on July 25th. I just recently revisited the 1994 TV mini-series of The Stand, and despite having a screenplay from King himself that sorry production left me seriously jonesing for a genuinely great small screen take on the novelist’s work (short take: King & co pretty much ballsed-up one of his greatest works).

Will Castle Rock float with Andy Muschietti’s It, or will it linger with the undead stench of Nikolaj Arcel’s The Dark Tower? We’ll know soon enough…

Ant-Man And The Wasp Full Trailer

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Just as Disney/Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War walks away with with approximately half the universe’s hard-earned cash (see the movie, you’ll get it), the company shows that the best way to follow up something so huge is by going small.

The stakes in Ant-Man and the Wasp seem relatively more low key, with a villain who wants to “take over the world… or whatever” (according to the always entertaining Michael Peña in the trailer).

It will be interesting to see how this movie works in relation to, well… what was happening in the Avengers movie… but this certainly seems to be a generally lighter toned affair.

Ant Man and the Wasp opens on July 6th, bringing back most of the original movie’s cast while adding Laurence Fishburne, Michelle Pfeiffer and the wonderful Walton Goggins.

Personally, I c…ant… wait. #SorryNotSorry

Avengers: Infinity War Takes All The Money

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The past few weeks has seen those of us interested in playing ‘guess the box office’ trying to figure out how much money Disney/Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War would make on its opening weekend. It turns out to be all the money.

While confidence seemed high on the film’s success and no one really thought it would bomb, few could have guessed it would smash two records.

Domestically, in the U.S.A., the film has romped past the previous record holder, fellow Disney stablemate Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which landed $247.9 million in 2015. The Marvel epic has brought home a comfortable $250 million, making it the new all-time opening weekend box office winner.

Internationally, it’s an even more impressive haul. 2017’s The Fate of the Furious pulled in $543 million, while Thanos and his quest for the Infinity Stones has sailed past to a breathtaking $630 million, setting another all-time record (even without opening in China and Russia, while Fate did, making it all the more impressive).

This is a truly astonishing feat for what amounts to the 19th film in an inter-connected series of franchises known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

As part of the pre-release hype for the film, Marvel launched the hashtag #ThanosDemandsYourSilence to head off potential spoilers for this bravely bleak blockbuster. Maybe it should have said #ThanosDemandsYourMoney

Source: Deadline Hollywood

This Is The End – Avengers: Infinity War * spoiler free review

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The Marvel films have always struggled with villains, it’s a frequently heard complaint that few villains beyond Loki and, arguably, Erik Killmonger, have left too much of an impression. So let’s get this right out there – not only was Thanos worth waiting for, but he instantly ranks at the top of the hall of infamy.

There was concern that the Mad Titan would be a let down, that he couldn’t possibly live up to the almost ten-year build which has led us to this point. But the combination of a wonderfully layered performance from Josh Brolin and superlative animation effects work brings Jim Starlin’s deranged creation to full, terrifying life in Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War.

This feat is even more impressive in a film which (as I’m sure you know from the hype) brings together all the expected characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (and perhaps even some unexpected ones).

Directors Anthony and Joe Russo (and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely) do a splendid job of pulling together an increasingly active number of franchises, giving most characters a neat arc and/or several great moments, though there are exceptions, inevitable even with a two-hour forty minute running time, and a certain amount of shorthand is definitely at play. That they manage this without spending an hour on exposition is a minor miracle, and a testament to deft storytelling (and the good will engendered by eighteen previous films).

There’s an undeniable frisson of excitement (especially for a Marvel geek like me) to see new combinations of characters, having Spider-Man and Doctor Strange interact left me with the biggest grin on my face, but the filmmakers know they need more than just a Marvel Team-Up to make a satisfying film.

There are real stakes here, literally the fate of the universe (or half of it… you’ll see…) hangs in the balance, with a number of different strands occurring in different locations on different worlds, and the action feels all the more vital because Marvel have taken the time to build these worlds and make us care for the characters. And it’s no spoiler to say your emotions will really be put through the wringer – I wept a solitary, manly tear on more than one occasion.

But don’t think the threat of the universe coming to an end or talk of tears means it’s all doom and gloom: this is a thrill-a-minute adventure that hits the ground running and barely lets up on the action, but as usual it’s mixed in with some fabulous and funny character interplay – Thor with Peter Quill and Doctor Strange with Tony Stark bring unexpected delights.

There’s also a distinct feel here of the beginning of a changing of the guard – the first ten years of Marvel movies has seen a very definite roster of characters and Infinity War shows us that the company’s willingness to shake things up is part of what makes them so successful, and which lends even more weight to the story, of course. Even the obligatory post-credit scene nods in that direction (it’s a nod that literally made me whoop in the cinema).

Is there a downside to all this? I suspect that a casual filmgoer would be rather lost but y’know in that case, get with the Marvel game like the rest of the population, I guess.

Avengers: Infinity War is a huge, and hugely exciting, comic book, sci-fi epic that really sees the gutsy long-game approach taken by Marvel pay off, giving us the Empire Strikes Back of their bold, long form narrative, and finally giving the Marvel Cinematic Universe its own Darth Vader, a cosmic villain with a welcome emotional core.

And really, so as not to wander into the spoiler zone, that’s about all I can say, except that this is the huge Marvel adventure we’ve been waiting for.

This is the end*… but bring on May 3, 2019 and Avengers 4 as soon as possible please, I only have so many fingernails left to chew through.

*Speaking of the end, you KNOW to stay right through to the very end of the credits, right…!?

Are You Getting A Good Feeling About The New Solo Trailer?

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Disney have just dropped the full-length trailer for Solo: A Star Wars Story and, well, it’s pretty good.

Take a look and see what you think…

So the main take here is that we actually get a little more of Alden Ehrenreich’s performance as Han Solo, in the unenviable position of taking over from screen legend, Harrison Ford. While this trailer still doesn’t sell me completely, I have to admit he’s looking a little more promising. It seems to be an approximation of Ford’s swagger without being a slavish imitation.

The main problem is that Donald Glover (taking over Lando Calrissian from Billy Dee Williams) absolutely steals every shot he’s in, leading me to wonder why this film isn’t actually called Lando. Still, there’s the added value of Woody Harrelson, and that’s never a bad thing.

Will Solo overcome its highly troubled production problems and give us the high-spirited heist movie the trailer promises? And will Ehrenreich win us over as our beloved rogue? We’ll find out in just over six weeks. Meanwhile, sound off in the comments below with your thoughts on the trailer…

Solo: A Star Wars Story punches its way into cinemas on May 25th.