BREATHE! Star Wars – The Last Jedi Trailer Is Here!

star-wars-the-last-jedi1

As expected, the teaser trailer for Episode 8 – The Last Jedi dropped just now at the Star Wars Celebration and, well, here it is…

It’s very Luke and Rey-centric, and it’s more of an atmosphere piece than anything. But there’s some cool looking stuff in there – possibly nothing that will convert a non-fan to Jedi-ism but, hey, you know Disney’s money is already in the bank, right!?

Star Wars Episode VIII The Last Jedi opens on December 15th, 2017 and very possibly three quarters of the world will go to see it.

Thor: Ragnarok Wins Battle of the Led Zeppelin Trailers!

Thor Ragnarok poster

In the last week or so we’ve been treated to two trailers for forthcoming big, studio tentpole movies, both of which rely on the trusty wailing, axe slashery (as in guitars, though there are plenty of real axes in the trailers themselves) and drum pounding of the mighty Led Zeppelin!

First out of the gate came Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, accompanied by Babe I’m Gonna Leave You (from the Zepp’s 1969 debut album). It’s all very blokey and muddy and grey with a bunch of Ritchie’s usual tics (speed ramping, etc) and ultimately, for me at least, didn’t feel in any way unique (and it has some very big boots to fill against John Boorman’s mad and operatic, Excalibur). The Arthur story appears to have been given the Game of Thrones/Sherlock Holmes treatment and if you’re up for that, then I guess I know where you’ll be spending your movie cash this summer.

Next up comes Taika Waititi’s first crack at the Marvel Cinematic Universe and, well, take a look for yourself:

The Thor films have frequently felt like the poor relations of the Marvel movies, neither quite reaching the targets they were aiming for (though I still find them both very enjoyable… Dark World in particular only really misses its mark due to the now frequent Marvel trope of the underdeveloped villain, with poor Christopher Eccleston doing his best under heavy make up).

A trailer is no proof of the finished product, of course, but judging from what we see here Marvel have let the Flight of the Conchords/What We Do In The Shadows director have his head of steam.

Already we see something lighter, brighter and far more cosmically ‘out there’ than the previous entries in this franchise, and certainly allowing Chris Hemsworth’s comedy chops to shine is a stroke of genius. Plus of course, there’s *that* guest appearance… it’s no trade secret that Thor: Ragnarok borrows from a certain set of well- loved stories from the comic books and the sight of those two characters (I’ll avoid spoilers here in case you’re the only person on the planet unaware of this) facing off against each other is just too delicious. Additionally, everyone knows Jeff Golblum automatically improves any movie he’s in.

Finally, we have the use of Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song, from 1970’s Led Zeppelin III. Now you might want to subtract a point or two after the song’s spellbinding use in the trailer for David Fincher’s slightly less spellbinding The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, but really that would feel somewhat churlish in light of its perfect use here.

Imprisoned on the other side of the universe, the mighty Thor (Chris Hemsworth) finds himself in a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), his former ally and fellow Avenger. Thor’s quest for survival leads him in a race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela (Cate Blanchett) from destroying his home world and the Asgardian civilization.

If this official synopsis above for Thor: Ragnarok doesn’t get you vibed (along with Spider-Man: Homecoming and Guardians of the Galaxy, vol. 2), well, there’s always King Arthur for you to look forward to. I’ll be gleefully diving into Waititi’s gloriously colourful immigrant song…

Justice League Come Together In New Trailer

jl

Aaaaand so the new trailer drops for Justice League and what do we have…?

Well, it all looks very Zack Snyder (your mileage may vary… mine is getting shorter every time he releases anything), there’s a little humour, some REALLY dreadful CGI (hello, Cyborg) and a lot of crunchy guitar wailing, courtesy of Aerosmith’s cover of Come Together (Come Together, y’see… because the Justice League… well, they come together and… oh, never mind…).

Suicide Squad has left my impressions of the DC Extended Universe at absolute ground zero (if I’m kind) and while I have some hopes for Wonder Woman’s solo outing this team effort is going to need a lot more pizzazz than I’m seeing here to get my panties wet.

Justice League opens November 16 and it’s looking unlikely I’ll be any more excited for it by then.

Iron Fist – Not Such A Master of Kung Fu!

marvel-iron-fist-netflix

Regular readers will know me as an unabashed fan of the Marvel franchises, heck I’ve even been known to say kind things about Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. This act alone, while possibly wiping out any standing I have as a critic, should firmly place me as a fully-fledged Marvel geek. I carry my F.O.O.M. card proudly.

So it’s with a heavy heart that I have to label Marvel’s Iron Fist on Netflix their first real misfire.

So full of problematic elements it’s kind of difficult to know where to begin, but let’s start with an issue common to all the Marvel/Netflix shows: folks, it’s just too darn long! The first four or five episodes are a genuine slog to sit through, it’s the first Marvel effort I’ve had to convince myself to continue. All of the Netflix shows have suffered from this, eight or at most ten episode seasons would make things feel far more palatable. It’s possible a shorter season would have made Iron Fist more entertaining but then there would still be… well, Iron Fist.

Boy oh boy, the showrunners make Danny Rand, A.K.A. Iron Fist, tough to like. Brash, entitled, aggressive and… well, I’m not quite sure what else he’s supposed to be. There’s a final moments line about Iron Fist becoming a shining beacon in the darkness, yadda yadda, but by this point we’ve sat through thirteen episodes of him generally acting like a complete ass to everyone around him with only a few glimmers of anything nice from star Finn Jones shining through.

And, Marvel… come ON!! Thirteen episodes of Danny Rand wandering about in a hoody is just plain dull. Audiences are now so well versed in the Marvel world that we’re quite happy to accept masks and long johns… Thor and Doctor Strange even wear capes. Without the costume this frequently comes off like just another straight-to-DVD action flick. The costumes are what makes the characters visually distinctive, so please stop wussing out when it comes to getting your characters to suit up!

Finally, for a series about a legendary, mystical kung-fu dude, the fight choreography was unforgivably dull. There wasn’t a single sequence with the gusto or panache of Daredevil season one’s hallway fight or season two’s stairwell scrap.

There are still pleasures here, including Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temple, an increasingly important thread in the Marvel Netflixverse (ouch) and the nods to the wider universe are fun – not to mention vital since Iron Fist leads to the forthcoming all-star mash up show, The Defenders. Good value is also provided by Tom Pelphrey and Jessica Stroup’s Meachum siblings, whose arcs are infinitely more interesting than that of Jones’s Rand (who pretty much remains an ass throughout).

But these few pleasures are unfortunately outweighed by a storyline that’s too afraid to let the crazy elements of its central character through, and so it ultimately lands with a dull thud instead of a kick to the groin.

Sorry Marvel, you know I love you, but Iron Fist felt more like a limp slap.

Will Wonder Woman Save DC Movies…?

ww

It’s no secret that here at Out of Dave’s Head Towers, the DC movies are considered to be something of a mess (and that’s being kinder than they perhaps deserve). Man of Steel has its qualities, Batman Vs Superman was an overstuffed mess and the less said about Suicide Squad the better for my use of expletives.

Dc and Warner Bros, clearly inspired by the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe dived into their first productions with zeal but no understanding of what made the Marvel movie franchises work so well. Instead of careful planning, the DC movies exhibit painfully obvious signs of throwing in everything but the kitchen sink in the hope of universe building, but do so with no vision of what makes their characters so special or indeed how an interconnected universe of movies should develop.

So it’s no small thing to say that I’m hoping against hope this rudderless ship of a brand can be saved by two women… director Patty Jenkins and DC’s Amazonian, Wonder Woman.

Everything about this film is shaping up nicely (though of course, the same could be said of the previous efforts) from the cast and crew to the look of the film. The Wonder Woman trailers (and Jenkins’ track record) have promised something far more cohesive and this latest from Warner Bros and DC is no exception.

Wonder Woman is a character who has never yet been handled right in her relatively few onscreen appearances (sorry, Lynda, I love you and your crazy 1970s TV show with its spangle and kookiness, but y’know…) and she deserves to be given the best treatment out of the starting gate.

Here’s hoping she can use her lassoo of truth to steer this ship into better waters.

Wonder Woman, starring Gal Gadot and Chris Pine, opens on June 2nd.

Humans return in Alien: Covenant prologue!

alien-_covenant_-_twitter_-_h_-_2016

Fox have just released this four minute prologue sequence for their upcoming Alien: Covenant, not part of the film itself and directed by Luke Scott, Ridley’s son.

Rather encouragingly, these four minutes contain more recognisable human qualities than the entire two hours of Prometheus, as we’re deftly introduced to the crew of the colony ship Covenant just before they enter cryosleep.

James Franco, Danny McBride, Katherine Waterston and Michael Fassbender are all front and centre, with Fassbender as Walter, a different android character to that of David from Prometheus, last seen as a collection of body parts jetting off into the unknown with Noomi Rapace.

How that film’s ending ties into Alien: Covenant remains to be seen, but this new production obviously feels confident enough to land one mother of a joke at the expense of the original Alien’s now-classic dinner scene with John Hurt.

All of which bodes well for Alien: Covenant. At least it can’t be any worse than Prometheus, right!? Right, Ridley…!?

Han’s first shot…

han-solo-begins-tall

Lucasfilm have just released the photo above, marking the event of the Han Solo Star Wars Story officially beginning shooting yesterday, at Pinewood Studios, London.

Co-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are seen here in the iconic cockpit of the Millennium Falcon, along with Alden Ehrenreich as brand new, young Han Solo, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian and Phoebe Waller-Bridge, with Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca. The intriguing cast also includes Thandie Newton, who must have been off wrestling a gundark when this photo was shot.

The untitled Han Solo Star Wars Story is slated for release on May 25, 2018. Let’s hope they’ve come up with a title by then.

Source: StarWars.com

Crawling towards The Last Jedi…

star-wars-the-last-jedi1

In the absence of any hard news about where Rian Johnson is going with Star Wars Episode VIII, this photograph from the director’s Instagram feed is sure to get pulses racing.

The photo shows the title, The Last Jedi, being dropped into the film’s now iconic title crawl.

crawl

With a considerable wait still in front of us until the film’s December 15th release, it’s heartening to know they’ll be sticking with tradition for this and not suddenly introducing a flashy Suicide Squad style opening with garish neon colours and helpful info-dump graphics. Although, after seven previous movies in the saga, maybe that would be useful for latecomers…

Rare Grooves – The Last Dinosaur

the-last-dinosaur-final

Welcome to the first in an occasional series of articles where I’ll be looking at the songs that have graced some of my favourite films through the years. Of course, since this is OODH, it’s unlikely I’ll be tackling anything from Grease or The Little Mermaid (fabulous as the Ashman & Menken tunes were in the latter).

In 1977, Japan’s Tsuburaya Productions (creators of Ultraman) teamed up with Rankin/Bass in the U.S. (famous for animated specials such as Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer and Mad Monster Party) to co-produce an odd little gem, the Tokusatsu movie, The Last Dinosaur. Richard Boone and Joan Van Ark star as two Americans who travel to an Arthur Conan Doyle/Edgar Rice Burroughs inspired lost continent beyond the polar ice caps (accompanied by a Maasi warrior tracker and a scientest, played by Luther Rackley and Tetsu Nakamura), to find a lost geologist, played by Steven Keats.

Co-directed by Alexander Grasshoff and Shusei Kotani, billed as Tom Kotani, the finished production aired in the United States February 11, 1977 as a television movie on the ABC network and shortly afterwards was released in Japan as a theatrical feature.

The film comes roaring from the gate, all guns blazing, with its astonishing main attraction right from the outset. That’s not, as you might imagine, the snarling, drooling Tyrannosaurus Rex as featured prominently in the film’s posters and trailer, but rather the snarling, drooling, sexist, drink-sodden, wealthy big game hunter, Maston Thrust (…no, really). Hollywood legend Boone gives his all (and then some) as the aptly-named Thrust, starting out at ten and then dialling up the amp from there. Subtle and nuanced the performanced isn’t, but it sure is a thing of beauty!

Maury Laws was chosen to compose the film’s score (a job he did for many of the Rankin/Bass specials and series) while the title song, with lyrics by Jules Bass, was sung by Nancy Wilson, and arranged and conducted by Bernard Hoffer.

Bass, of course, was also one of the film’s producers, while Hoffer was later the composer of the theme song from beloved 1980s animated series, Thundercats.

Singer Nancy Wilson, also known as “The Girl With the Honey-Coated Voice”, was world-renowned for her career in blues, r & b and jazz. For The Last Dinosaur, her vocals show no condescension at the material and she gives a superb performance in this Bondian recording. The lyrics can hilariously – and quite rightly – be read as referring to both Maston Thrust AND the film’s killer T-Rex, an achievement never topped by John Barry or his lyricists for any of the James Bond title songs.

Sit back, pour yourself a shot of whisky and let your ears be seduced by the 70s elegance of The Last Dinosaur.

 

And the title for Star Wars Episode VII is…

star-wars-the-last-jedi1

…yes, as you can tell from the header image, it’s The Last Jedi.

Your illustrious writer has meticulously pieced together all currently verified information, taken his life into his hands by scouring the perilous and murky backwaters of internet rumours and can confidently conclude this title will refer to Luke Skywalker. Unless it refers to Rey. Or maybe Kylo Ren, if he does a last minute turnabout over to the side of the Force that isn’t the Dark Side.

Meanwhile, Lucasfilm released the following statement alongside the title and teaser poster:

We have the greatest fans in this or any other galaxy. In appreciation of the fans, we wanted them to be the first to know the title of the next chapter in the Skywalker saga: STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI. THE LAST JEDI is written and directed by Rian Johnson and produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman and executive produced by J.J. Abrams, Jason McGatlin, and Tom Karnowski. STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI is scheduled for release December 15, 2017.

If we’re really lucky, the last Jedi will turn out to actually be the Force ghost of Jake Lloyd, the young actor who portrayed Anakin Skywalker in… brrrr… The Phantom Menace, still jumping around sporting that pudding basin haircut and yelling “Yippeee!” everywhere.