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Director Dean DeBlois on the Evolution of the ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ Trilogy and His Plans to Go Live-Action Next [Interview]

dean deblois and how to train your draon
A couple of weeks back, I was able to visit the DreamWorks Animation campus in Glendale California, an oasis hidden amongst the Los Angeles concrete. There, I had a chance to visit Dean DeBlois‘ new office and talk to the filmmaker about How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. As you may know, DeBlois wrote and directed the modern Disney Animation classic Lilo & Stitch with Chris Sanders, before moving to DreamWorks to direct all three installments of the now completed How to Train Your Dragon trilogy.

In our interview, we talk about the evolution of the story from the beginning of the trilogy to the conclusion, comparisons to Star Wars, the trouble with sequels, an animation franchise where the characters physically grow and age, the original idea for the second movie that was abandoned, how he feels about making audiences cry, what it was like to work with Guillermo Del Toro and Drew Struzan, his hopes to make a live-action film next, a possible Dragons theme park ride, and the challenge of making a mythical based franchise in the age of Avatar.

https://www.podbean.com/media/player/yccvd-a8b5f6?from=yiiadmin&download=1&version=1&vjs=1&skin=4&auto=0&share=1&fonts=Helvetica&download=1&rtl=0&pbad=1

Note: the image below is a drawing of Dean created by Nico Marlet, the trilogy’s principal character designer. You can also listen to the interview above in podcast form thanks to /Film Daily.

Peter: First of all, I love the movie.

Dean: Thank you.

Peter: Yeah.  It’s really a beautiful conclusion to this franchise. 

Dean: Awesome.  Great.  I’m glad you think so.

Peter: How much of the Dragon Trilogy was mapped out at the beginning? 

Dean: So if we’re talking about the first film, Chris Sanders and I jumped onto that at really late in the game.  Like we had 15 months before its release in theaters, so and they wanted kind of a reworking of the story from the start.  So that was a very kind of intense and focused effort to get a movie that worked up on screen.  And there was no thought of sequels or franchise or anything.  Not until the movie went out there and actually performed for the studio. 

Chris had gone back to working on The Croods at that point.  And I was tasked with coming up with ideas for a sequel.  And due to my general allergy to sequels, I said, what if we did a trilogy?  ‘Cause that we could do three acts of one story.  We could draw upon some unanswered questions in the first movie.  But tell the story of this Viking runt ne’er-do-well to the wise, selfless Viking Chief that he was destined to be.  Loosely inspired by his arc in the books. 

So that we could get to that moment like the opening narration of Cressida Cowell’s first book.  There were dragons when I was a boy.  I thought there was something really emotional about that.  But it suggests the end of an era.  The disappearance of dragons and all of the mystery and emotion attached to that idea.  So yeah, at that point [we were] talking about it in three acts.  That the only condition that I was given by Jeffrey Katzenberg at the time was that every one of the installments had to stand alone.  It wasn’t reliant upon the previous film.  And we couldn’t have cliffhangers.  They had to work independently and together.

Peter: Even though you say that, I feel like the second one has a very like Empire Strikes Back feel to it.

Dean: Well that’s a huge compliment.  Thank you.  That was certainly an inspiration in tone.

Peter: Yeah.  So when starting this film, were you working back from the ending of “we need to find out why the dragons disappeared?”

Dean: Yes.  Exactly.  Like if Hiccup does become the seasoned, wise Chief, how could his ascension into that role be accompanied by the disappearance of dragons?  And furthermore, could it be his decision?  What would have led to that?  For a guy that’s all about pounding this idea of coexistence into his own people and anyone who will listen, how does that guy go to embrace this idea of separating?

Peter: Yeah.  It’s also very interesting that in the medium of animation, usually with franchises, you don’t get to see the characters grow up over time.  Like, sure you get to see Andy in Toy Story, but the main characters–

Dean: I think that’s the only example.  Yeah. I can’t think of any other characters that have grown up on screen.

Peter: Especially TV.  Like Simpsons are the same as they always were, a little bit different style, but…

Dean: Yeah.  It’s almost an animated convention that you can live timelessly in this world.  As sequels and TV series develop.  Characters never even change clothes, never mind ages.

Peter: Yeah.  So why did you decide to take them in this direction, or leave them off where you do?  Is it like…?

Dean: It was a practical consideration, because at its core ,for a story to be worth telling, you need a character who has to undergo some sort of transformation.  And if you look at Hiccup in the first movie he, by the end of it, he gained everything he was after.  He has his father’s love, the admiration of the town, the attention of Astrid, the coolest dragon.  He ends a age-old war.  Like this is a character without a problem. 

Peter: That’s the problem of all movies that have sequels, right?

Dean: Yeah.  ‘Cause then it becomes a very sort of surface level issue.  Like somebody stole my car.  And that becomes the next sort of pointless adventure with the same five or six characters.  I wanted to avoid that.  So I thought by advancing the clock and re-meeting Hiccup at a point where he’s facing another universal problem, one that we’re all gonna have to go through this transition from youth and carefree abandon into adulthood with consequence.  The search for identity with two overbearing parents.  That felt to me like something that a lot of people could relate to and it was an inner problem as much as it was an external one.

Peter: One of the most interesting things to me…

[Peter finally looks around and notices all the cool things in Dean’s office]

Peter: By the way, this is an awesome office. 

Dean: Thanks.

Peter: Is this your office?

Dean: Yeah.  Literally moved in two days ago.  We got kicked out of our production area up on the fifth floor of that other building.

[Peter notices some old school Kenner Star Wars ships still in their original box, from Empire Strikes Back]

Peter: You got old school Star Wars toys.

Dean: Yet to be unpacked.

Peter: Yeah.  Empire Strikes Back right there.  One of the most interesting things about animation I think is the development process is so long and especially you hear these stories, how things have changed over time.  So I’m wondering, how did this film change from the original idea that you had for it when you started developing this third film in the franchise to what it is now?

Dean: Well, if we go back to the second movie, Valka was originally meant to be the sympathetic antagonist of that movie.  In other words, Hiccup met her in the same way that he did and was amazed by her to find out there’s another dragon rider who’s even more steeped in the world of dragons.  But her fundamental core belief was that humans could not be trusted and that dragons needed to be protected from them.  And that ran against Hiccup’s desire to teach people to get along with dragons. 

So toward the end of the original version of the second movie, she flew to Berk to extract the dragons to get them to safety.  Because this unknown force to be reckoned with, Drago Bludvist, was coming.  But he really wasn’t going to be a strong presence until the third movie.  And it was Hiccup fighting his own mother to protect his way of life on Berk.  And she leaves defeated but convinced that he will have to make a decision. 

And that was to set up her return in the third movie in the third act when Drago did come crashing upon the shores of Berk with all of his might.  She flew back in as having thought about it and been converted to his way of thinking.  She flew back in to be his strongest ally with her army of dragons.  So that was fundamentally changed because really it was just the relationship of the mother was going to be problematic like with our audience in having young kids turning to their Moms and say, why is his mother fighting him?  Why is she taking away the dragons? 

So that arc was collapsed.  It means that Drago came into the second movie in kind of a one-dimensional way.  ‘Cause he was just this brute.  But the ambition originally was actually to have Drago arc in the third movie.  He was going to have survived the defeat at the end of the second movie and find himself marooned on an island in a pile of wreckage with home to a very aggressive, territorial dragon that wanted to see him dead. 

And so once Drago realized that he had been succeeded in his own armada by this character named Grimmel, he was determined to get back there and reassert his position.  The only way off the island was to befriend that dragon.  And so it was this kind of headstrong tit-for-tat trying to figure out this how to earn the respect and trust with this dragon.  And in doing so he develops this kind of this affection for it.  So that when he finally flew into the third act battle, he lands on the side of the Dragon Riders.  And ends up showing some steps toward redemption. 

It was just a story that was gonna require far too much care and feeding and time in order to do it right.  And we knew that we had to focus on Hiccup and the new element of Toothless and his call of the wild that it was unfortunately just an element that had to be lopped off.

Continue Reading How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World Director Interview >>

The post Director Dean DeBlois on the Evolution of the ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ Trilogy and His Plans to Go Live-Action Next [Interview] appeared first on /Film.

from /Film https://www.slashfilm.com/dean-de-blois-interview-the-hidden-world/

Film

Walt Disney World’s Epcot Getting a New Pavilion, Completely Redesigned Entrance

I’m not exaggerating when I say that Walt Disney World’s Epcot theme park is one of my favorite places on the planet. But I’m not blind to the fact that it’s in desperate need of some TLC, an injection of fresh imagination…and a ton of money to fix the cracks and tighten the gears. And since the resort’s Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios parks all received major expansions in the past decade, it’s time for the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow to get the extensive makeover it so desperately needs.

Although the first round of Epcot updates and additions were announced back in 2017, theme park fans now have two new additions to await: a redesigned (and very welcome) new entrance to the park and, after literally years of waiting, a replacement for the abandoned Wonders of Life pavilion.

The New Epcot Pavilion

First of all, Disney announced a new, unnamed pavilion (you can see concept at the top of this post) that will move into the space once occupied by the Wonders of Life family of attractions. Its theme seems loose at best, but it certainly sounds like something that will appeal to younger park-goers and Epcot, a park that offers a great deal to older visitors (especially those who like sampling foreign alcohol) desperately needs that. Here’s how the Disney Parks blog describes it:

The ongoing evolution of Epcot includes plans for a play pavilion that’ll be unlike anything you’ve ever seen at the park. This new space will be devoted to playful fun and feature an innovative city that’ll come to life under the dome of the un-named pavilion previously known as Wonders of Life. The pavilion’s city will be bursting with interactive experiences, your favorite Disney characters, hands-on activities and engaging entertainment when it opens just in time for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort!

This may not be as inherently exciting as the new Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster taking over the Universe of Energy pavilion or the Ratatouille ride being imported from Disneyland Paris to the France pavilion, but it’s about time Disney did something with the empty Wonders of Life building. This mammoth structure was once home to the motion simulator attraction Body Wars and the outdated (but charming) Cranium Command show…but it was also home to numerous exhibits and activities that only served to remind visitors how hopelessly out of shape they were. I remember my final visit to Wonders of Life, when the entire pavilion was empty and every attraction had a wait time of zero minutes. Fun for me, horrible for a park that needs every foot of space to be absorbing and occupying visitors.

Honestly, Wonders of Life was easily the least fun place in all of Epcot. It closed in 2007 and has laid dormant since then, only opening when the park needed the space for special events. So the news that anything is happening here is good news, frankly. Here’s how Zach Riddley, portfolio executive of Walt Disney Imagineering, describes the new pavilion:

“This innovative, new pavilion is beyond anything we’ve ever created and is completely unique to Epcot. Built on the power of play, it introduces an immersive and interactive ‘city’ where you can explore, create, and interact with some of your favorite Disney characters. This is an experience worthy of our bold vision for Epcot – and another signature element of our transformation.”

I’m very curious if this new pavilion will retain the spirit of the old Epcot I know and love, the educational and enlightening park that tried to illuminate technology and culture as it entertained. If an interactive city filled with Disney characters can do that, everyone will win. Consider my fingers crossed.

The Redesigned Entrance

While not as exciting as a new attraction or pavilion, the official announcement of Epcot’s redesigned entrance is tremendous news for those sick of the site’s eyesore of a entry hub. You can see some concept art above and here is how Disney describes it:

There will also be exciting changes to the way you come and go at Epcot! As you can see above, changes are coming to the Epcot main entrance, where the plaza will welcome guests with new pathways, sweeping green spaces and a newly reimagined fountain. This new design will pay homage to the original park entrance with fresh takes on classic elements.

Years ago, Disney created the Leave A Legacy program, which allowed park visitors to have their pictures turned into metallic tiles and places on giant concrete monoliths that lined the entry walkway. It was ill-conceived and ugly, a grotesque way to walk into a park that was otherwise quite lovely. These will be relocated outside the park gates, letting the space in front of the iconic Spaceship Earth dome get some much-needed fresh touches. After all, a theme park can only make a first impression once and Epcot has been stumbling through the front door for a long time now.

The post Walt Disney World’s Epcot Getting a New Pavilion, Completely Redesigned Entrance appeared first on /Film.

from /Film https://www.slashfilm.com/new-epcot-pavilion/

Film

Walt Disney World’s Epcot Getting a New Pavilion, Completely Redesigned Entrance

I’m not exaggerating when I say that Walt Disney World’s Epcot theme park is one of my favorite places on the planet. But I’m not blind to the fact that it’s in desperate need of some TLC, an injection of fresh imagination…and a ton of money to fix the cracks and tighten the gears. And since the resort’s Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios parks all received major expansions in the past decade, it’s time for the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow to get the extensive makeover it so desperately needs.

Although the first round of Epcot updates and additions were announced back in 2017, theme park fans now have two new additions to await: a redesigned (and very welcome) new entrance to the park and, after literally years of waiting, a replacement for the abandoned Wonders of Life pavilion.

The New Epcot Pavilion

First of all, Disney announced a new, unnamed pavilion (you can see concept at the top of this post) that will move into the space once occupied by the Wonders of Life family of attractions. Its theme seems loose at best, but it certainly sounds like something that will appeal to younger park-goers and Epcot, a park that offers a great deal to older visitors (especially those who like sampling foreign alcohol) desperately needs that. Here’s how the Disney Parks blog describes it:

The ongoing evolution of Epcot includes plans for a play pavilion that’ll be unlike anything you’ve ever seen at the park. This new space will be devoted to playful fun and feature an innovative city that’ll come to life under the dome of the un-named pavilion previously known as Wonders of Life. The pavilion’s city will be bursting with interactive experiences, your favorite Disney characters, hands-on activities and engaging entertainment when it opens just in time for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort!

This may not be as inherently exciting as the new Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster taking over the Universe of Energy pavilion or the Ratatouille ride being imported from Disneyland Paris to the France pavilion, but it’s about time Disney did something with the empty Wonders of Life building. This mammoth structure was once home to the motion simulator attraction Body Wars and the outdated (but charming) Cranium Command show…but it was also home to numerous exhibits and activities that only served to remind visitors how hopelessly out of shape they were. I remember my final visit to Wonders of Life, when the entire pavilion was empty and every attraction had a wait time of zero minutes. Fun for me, horrible for a park that needs every foot of space to be absorbing and occupying visitors.

Honestly, Wonders of Life was easily the least fun place in all of Epcot. It closed in 2007 and has laid dormant since then, only opening when the park needed the space for special events. So the news that anything is happening here is good news, frankly. Here’s how Zach Riddley, portfolio executive of Walt Disney Imagineering, describes the new pavilion:

“This innovative, new pavilion is beyond anything we’ve ever created and is completely unique to Epcot. Built on the power of play, it introduces an immersive and interactive ‘city’ where you can explore, create, and interact with some of your favorite Disney characters. This is an experience worthy of our bold vision for Epcot – and another signature element of our transformation.”

I’m very curious if this new pavilion will retain the spirit of the old Epcot I know and love, the educational and enlightening park that tried to illuminate technology and culture as it entertained. If an interactive city filled with Disney characters can do that, everyone will win. Consider my fingers crossed.

The Redesigned Entrance

While not as exciting as a new attraction or pavilion, the official announcement of Epcot’s redesigned entrance is tremendous news for those sick of the site’s eyesore of a entry hub. You can see some concept art above and here is how Disney describes it:

There will also be exciting changes to the way you come and go at Epcot! As you can see above, changes are coming to the Epcot main entrance, where the plaza will welcome guests with new pathways, sweeping green spaces and a newly reimagined fountain. This new design will pay homage to the original park entrance with fresh takes on classic elements.

Years ago, Disney created the Leave A Legacy program, which allowed park visitors to have their pictures turned into metallic tiles and places on giant concrete monoliths that lined the entry walkway. It was ill-conceived and ugly, a grotesque way to walk into a park that was otherwise quite lovely. These will be relocated outside the park gates, letting the space in front of the iconic Spaceship Earth dome get some much-needed fresh touches. After all, a theme park can only make a first impression once and Epcot has been stumbling through the front door for a long time now.

The post Walt Disney World’s Epcot Getting a New Pavilion, Completely Redesigned Entrance appeared first on /Film.

from /Film https://www.slashfilm.com/new-epcot-pavilion/

Film

‘A Quiet Place 2’ Bringing Back John Krasinski to Direct, Emily Blunt Will Appear

A Quiet Place 2 John Krasinski

After almost a year of talking about how he was just going to return to write the script for A Quiet Place 2John Krasinski is also coming back to direct the sequel to his 2018 horror hit. Plus, a new report says that Emily Blunt is coming back to appear as well. Learn what we know about A Quiet Place 2 below.

John Krasinski A Quiet Place 2

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…time to go back. #PartII 5-15-20

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Deadline reports that Krasinski will be back in the director’s chair for this follow-up, and that “Emily Blunt’s deal for the sequel is closed as well.”

Spoilers for A Quiet Place ahead: the first film ends with Blunt dramatically cocking a shotgun and ready to kill the aliens that are invading her family’s farm. Krasinski’s Instagram post features the hashtag “Part II”, which seems to indicate that this movie could pick up where the original left off.

But the weird thing about that is it goes against practically everything Krasinski has said about the sequel ever since he came on board as a writer. “How did that old man survive?” Krasinski previously wondered aloud when asked about his idea for a sequel. “In the extreme these characters are going through, there’s no room to think about that. They’re there, there’s an old man who’s about to scream, they just have to deal with that. I think it would be interesting to see what’s going on elsewhere at this same time.” Ever since, we’ve operated under the assumption that A Quiet Place 2 was going to take place simultaneously with the original, possibly showing a brief glimpse of the Abbot family from the first film crossing paths with new characters.

But knowing now that Blunt is definitely on board and seeing Krasinski’s mention of “Part II” in the hashtag, it seems as if this quote from Blunt back in November is a more accurate explanation of the sequel:

“In some ways, the idea of seeing who these people were before this all happened would be interesting, but I’m not quite sure because I think actually it’s now what’s the next chapter and what happens next. I think people feel very invested in this family…. I think it’s such an open book right now, and certainly for John who is lasering into something as we speak.”

Production begins in July, and the sequel will arrive in theaters on May 15, 2020. Despite several outlets reporting that release date as new information, we’ve all known about it since last August.

The post ‘A Quiet Place 2’ Bringing Back John Krasinski to Direct, Emily Blunt Will Appear appeared first on /Film.

from /Film https://www.slashfilm.com/a-quiet-place-2-john-krasinski/

Film

‘Zombieland 2’ Double Taps Luke Wilson to Join the Cast

zombieland cast

Zombieland: Double Tap may be tapping into its nostalgia with the return of original original cast members Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg, and Abigail Breslin, but the Zombieland sequel has added its fair share of new actors as well. The latest actor to join the Zombieland 2 cast is Luke Wilson, who is playing a thus-far unknown role.

Variety broke the news that Luke Wilson is joining the cast of the action-comedy sequel, Zombieland: Double Tap. The actor is set to join fellow newcomers Rosario Dawson (Luke Cage), Zoey Detch (Set It Up), and Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley), in an unknown role.

Titled Zombieland: Double Tap, the film is a sequel to Ruben Fleischer’s charming and successful 2009 zombie comedy which followed a group of zombie apocalypse survivors as they made their way across America. The sequel will follow this found family as they “face off against new kinds of living dead that have evolved since the first movie, as well as new human survivors,” according to Variety. “They have to also deal with the growing pains of their own makeshift family.”

Early reports suggested the setting of the film will move to the American heartland, where they’ll meet and face off with new survivors. I could see Wilson playing an all-American type who is one of those survivors that the quartet meet along the way. But other than that, we have very little idea of what Zombieland 2 will be about, other than probably more killer jokes and killer zombies. It’s a pretty cut-and-dry genre.

Original Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer, who most recently helmed the Sony hit Venom, is reuniting with original writers Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese, also fresh off success with the Deadpool movies, to helm Zombieland: Double Tap.

Zombieland: Double Tap crawls into theaters on October 11, 2019.

The post ‘Zombieland 2’ Double Taps Luke Wilson to Join the Cast appeared first on /Film.

from /Film https://www.slashfilm.com/zombieland-2-cast-luke-wilson/

Film

What to Expect From Disney+ and the Fox Merger, According to Disney Film Chief Alan Horn

disney future projects

The Disney brand has become more than just Disney now. In addition to its gigantic studios Lucasfilm, Marvel, and Pixar, Disney will soon be an umbrella that will encompass all of the 21st Century Fox properties.

But what exactly can we expect from Disney future projects as the Fox acquisition moves forward and Disney readies itself to jump into the streaming wars with the upcoming launch of Disney+? Walt Disney Studios chief Alan Horn is here to talk about that and more in a new interview about the House of Mouse as the company undergoes more upheaval — bad and good — than ever

In an extensive interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Horn spoke about the ambitious plans for the future of Disney. The House of Mouse is going through some major change as it prepares to enter the streaming wars and complete its biggest studio acquisition ever. Will the Disney brand stay the same even as its properties become more diverse? Yes, the Walt Disney Studios chief said.

The Fox Acquisition

“With Fox, we can make movies that right now I say no to,” Horn said. “The audience for a Disney movie may not know what they are going to see, but they know what they aren’t going to see. There are certain things we just can’t include because we’ll get letters.”

20th Century Fox, who is behind such films as the Oscar-nominated Bohemian Rhapsody, the box office behemoth Avatar, and others, generally has fewer qualms about adult-oriented fare than Disney, which has had to maintain a family-friendly standard for much of its history. “To take over a major motion picture studio with a storied history and a hundred years of history is a very bold move,” Horn said. “And the second reaction was, ‘OK, how do we assimilate this into one company and have it function productively, and how do we actually make this work in practice going forward?’”

The solution: let Fox continue to do its thing, basically. Horn said:

Take Bohemian Rhapsody, which is PG-13. It’s a hit movie and very, very good. But there’s no way we could make it under the Disney label because the characters smoke cigarettes and other content. Nor could we have made [Warner Bros.’ R-rated] Oscar-winning Argo because the characters smoke and use the F-word. We always have to think about the smoking policy.

But will that hands off approach continue? Disney began much that same way with its other studios Marvel, Lucasfilm, and Pixar, but there’s no denying that a more family-friendly bent has begun to proliferate in Marvel and Star Wars movies. But perhaps that will change as Disney continues to expand into streaming with Disney+.

What to Look Forward to With Disney+

As Disney readies itself to dive into the streaming wars, Horn recounts how he told Sean Bailey, “I have good news. You can now make a McFarland, U.S.A. again.” He explained, “That was an example of a wonderful movie that lost money. But this is the perfect vehicle for that kind of movie.”

With Disney+, Horn said that the company can begin taking risks again. “The thing about these big movies is they get a lot of attention, whether positive or negative,” Horn said. “So when they don’t work, like Solo, the media says it’s a failure.” Now Disney+ is a chance for all the studios, not just Disney, to use the streaming service to test out new ideas that could be financial or creative risks. Horn said:

And the people at Disney Animation and Pixar are saying, “What can we do?” Everyone wears an additional hat now. Bob has said the service is now his No. 1 priority. Netflix and companies like Amazon represent the great disruption in our business and a seismic shift in consumer offerings and viewing patterns. The interesting thing, which is not resolved yet, is how big is the consumer appetite for these incremental services? I like our chances.

Disney+ is expected to launch sometime this year.

The post What to Expect From Disney+ and the Fox Merger, According to Disney Film Chief Alan Horn appeared first on /Film.

from /Film https://www.slashfilm.com/disney-future-projects-streaming-fox-alan-horn/

Film

‘Game of Thrones’ Veteran Natalie Dormer Joins ‘Penny Dreadful: City of Angels’ as a Demon

Natalie Dormer Penny Dreadful

Natalie Dormer, who played Margaery Tyrell across five seasons of HBO’s Game of Thrones, is heading to Showtime to play a demon in Penny Dreadful: City of Angels, the upcoming spin-off of the network’s Victorian-era original series, which came to an end back in 2016. This “spiritual descendant” of the original drama takes place in Los Angeles in the 1930s and features an entirely new group of characters, and you can read all about Dormer’s demon below.

According to Showtime, Dormer has joined the Penny Dreadful: City of Angels cast as Magda, whom they describe as “a supernatural demon who can take the appearance of anyone she chooses and manifests in a number of guises throughout the story. Charismatic, clever and chameleonic, Magda is a dangerous enemy and an invaluable ally.”

“Charismatic” and “clever” are two words that could also be applied to Dormer’s Margaery Tyrell, a cunning character who cannily maneuvered her way into becoming the queen of Westeros while major players died all around her. I suppose they could also apply to Cressida, her character from The Hunger Games sequels who was a warrior/documentarian. Hopefully the shapeshifting nature of her character in City of Angels means that we’ll still get to see Dormer herself get significant face time in the series. Taking a macro look at the show, this part seems like a perfect character for an in-demand actress to play; if Dormer secures a high-profile role in a movie or another show and has a scheduling conflict, Penny Dreadful could easily depict her character in another form for an episode or two until she’s available to film again.

John Logan, the creator, writer, and showrunner of the original Penny Dreadful, is back in those roles here, while Daniel Zovatto (Don’t Breathe, It Follows), Jessica Garza (The Purge), and Johnathan Nieves (New Amsterdam) round out the cast so far. Production starts later this year.

Here’s the official description:

A spiritual descendant of the original PENNY DREADFUL story set in Victorian-era London, PENNY DREADFUL: CITY OF ANGELS opens in 1938 Los Angeles, a time and place deeply infused with social and political tension. When a grisly murder shocks the city, Detective Tiago Vega (Zovatto) is embroiled in an epic story that reflects the rich history of Los Angeles: from the building of the city’s first freeways and its deep traditions of Mexican-American folklore, to the dangerous espionage actions of the Third Reich and the rise of radio evangelism. Before long, Tiago and his family are grappling with powerful forces that threaten to tear them apart. PENNY DREADFUL: CITY OF ANGELS explores an exciting mix of the supernatural and the combustible reality of the period, creating new occult myths and moral dilemmas within a genuine historical backdrop. This chapter is a bold new vision that will employ all new characters and storylines.

The post ‘Game of Thrones’ Veteran Natalie Dormer Joins ‘Penny Dreadful: City of Angels’ as a Demon appeared first on /Film.

from /Film https://www.slashfilm.com/natalie-dormer-penny-dreadful/

Film

‘Barry’ Season 2 Trailer: Bill Hader’s Hitman-Turned-Actor is Back for Another Job

Barry Season 2 Trailer

The first season of Barry had no right being as magnificent as it was. HBO’s pitch-black comedy about a hitman who gets bitten by the acting bug was the perfect blend of silly and tragic, a character-driven farce with a dark, Breaking Bad-esque heart, all powered by Bill Hader and Henry Winkler doing career-best work.

Now, the full trailer for the new season has arrived and it looks bigger, brasher, and yes, somehow even darker. Check it out below.

Barry Season 2 Trailer

The first season of the show ended with Barry making his bleakest and most horrifying choice yet, a decision that lingers over the new trailer like a disease. The title character may be capable of monstrous things, but he’s still a human being and the guilt over the blood on his hands has begun rot his soul. It also seems to have the added side effect of actually improving his acting, which is the kind of bleak comedic choice this show can pull off like no other.

Although Hader and Winkler won well-deserved Emmys for their work in season 1, this trailer promises that the entire supporting cast is back and ready to do what they do best: bring these simultaneously silly and dangerous characters to life. Anthony Carrigan‘s Noho Hank continues to be one of the great comedic creations of recent years, but I’m also happy to see Stephen Root‘s sleazy Fuches and Sarah Goldberg‘s self-absorbed Sally back in the picture. These characters, buffoonish and terribly sad and so damn funny, form the core of a world I want to revisit again and again, even when it hurts.

As viewers know, the first season went to exceedingly dark places, especially in its back half. Comparisons were rightfully made to Breaking Bad at points – the filmmaking itself avoids the point-and-shoot style associated with most television comedies, aiming for a harsh and often painfully realistic style that makes the violence on screen hurt. Barry’s murders aren’t treated as jokes and even the silliest characters can be uncompromising monsters. It’s a tightrope Hader and co-creator Alec Berg walk with a deftness that blows me away.

Barry returns on March 31, 2019 on HBO. Between this, the final season of Veep, and the final season of Game of Thrones, HBO’s Sunday nights just became as compelling as they have ever been. And that’s saying a lot.

The post ‘Barry’ Season 2 Trailer: Bill Hader’s Hitman-Turned-Actor is Back for Another Job appeared first on /Film.

from /Film https://www.slashfilm.com/barry-season-2-trailer/

Film

‘Altered Carbon’ Season 2 Cast Announcement Video Shows Off Some New Sleeves

altered carbon season 2 cast announcement

Altered Carbon is coming back for an all-new body-swapping season. There’s no footage of the Netflix show’s new episodes yet, but there is a new cast announcement video, full of some new faces, and some familiar ones as well. Watch the Altered Carbon season 2 cast announcement video below, and try not to blow your stack.

Altered Carbon Season 2 Cast Announcement 

Say hello to the cast of Altered Carbon season 2. There’s Anthony Mackie as Takeshi Kovacs, Simone Missick as Trepp, Dina Shihabi as Dig 301, Torbin Liebrecht as Colonel Ivan Carerra, James Saito as Tanaseda Hideki, Renee Elise Goldsberry as Quellcrist Falconer and Chris Conner as Poe. Anyone who saw Altered Carbon season 1 will immediately notice that the actor playing Kovacs has changed. Joel Kinnaman played the character the first time around (with Will Yun Lee playing the original Kovacs in flashbacks), but now MCU mainstay Anthony Mackie has taken over.

This is no case of stunt-casting. The world of Altered Carbon allows characters to swap bodies at will. People’s consciousness are called stacks, and they’re housed on little discs. Those stacks can then be placed in new sleeves – aka, bodies. If you get injured, or sick, or just plain old, you can simply find a new body to slip into – provided you have the money.

Here’s the synopsis for the first season:

Based on the classic cyberpunk noir novel by Richard K. Morgan, Altered Carbon is an intriguing story of murder, love, sex, and betrayal, set more than 300 years in the future. Society has been transformed by new technology: consciousness can be digitized; human bodies are interchangeable; death is no longer permanent. Takeshi Kovacs is the lone surviving soldier in a group of elite interstellar warriors who were defeated in an uprising against the new world order. His mind was imprisoned – on ice – for centuries until Laurens Bancroft, an impossibly wealthy, long-lived man, offers Kovacs the chance to live again. In exchange, Kovacs has to solve a murder … that of Bancroft himself.

I watched Altered Carbon season 1, and enjoyed some of it. It had a lot of style – although that style was lifted straight out of Blade Runner. Like most Netflix shows, though, pacing was a major issue. Hopefully season 2 will fix that. As for what season 2 will be about, well, that’s still a mystery. The show is adapted from the book series by Richard K. Morgan, so creator/executive producer/showrunner Laeta Kalogridis will likely be drawing on the source material for inspiration. Those books span hundreds of years, so it’s possible season 2 could jump forward in time.

Season 2 is now in production.

The post ‘Altered Carbon’ Season 2 Cast Announcement Video Shows Off Some New Sleeves appeared first on /Film.

from /Film https://www.slashfilm.com/altered-carbon-season-2-cast-announcement/

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‘Captain Marvel’ Clip Reveals the Classic Marvel Character That Annette Bening is Playing

captain marvel clip

Marvel has kept a tight lid on Captain Marvel, cracking down on any secrets that may be spilled or identities that could be spoiled for the comic book movie. But with three weeks to go until the theatrical release, it seems that they may be easing up a little on the mysteries surrounding the film. Specifically: who the hell is Annette Bening playing? Theories swirled around Bening’s ethereal character, who until now has only appeared briefly in trailers and in promotional images. But now the secret is out, thanks to a new Captain Marvel clip that Bening debuted at The Late Show.

Captain Marvel Clip

During Bening’s appearance on Thursday night’s Late Show, the actress gave a cursory explanation of her character’s role in the film, which takes place during Marvel’s epic Skrull-Kree war. Though she was unsurprisingly tight-lipped when it came to actually identifying the character, her description was detailed enough to confirm that she is playing the Supreme Intelligence, a classic Marvel character. “A god-like entity,” Bening says of her character, “the leader of the Kree people. The artificial intelligence which consists of the greatest intellects of the Kree people for the last million years.”

The clip she debuts at the 3:41 mark, confirms that identity even further. “Intelligence,” Brie Larson‘s Carol Danvers calls Bening in the clip as Bening’s character prepares Danvers to serve in her Star Command unit. Smooth-voiced and ethereal, Bening certainly lives up to that “god-like entity” description. But what does it all mean?

Who is the Supreme Intelligence?

Created in 1967 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the Supreme Intelligence goes way back in Marvel continuity. First appearing in Fantastic Four #65, the Supreme Intelligence was conceived as an artificial intelligence created by the Kree to help make a Cosmic Cube that could match the one made by their enemies, the Skrulls. (In Marvel Comics, the Cosmic Cube is a totally separate thing from the Infinity Stones, unlike its movie counterpart, the Tesseract/Space Stone.)

However, the Supreme Intelligence soon developed its own will and decided not to create a Cosmic Cube but use its capabilities to advise the Kree. Its intelligence only grew as the greatest Kree thinkers would regularly upload their minds into the Great Intelligence upon their deaths. Eventually, it became so powerful in Kree society that the Kree abolished their own government and made the Supreme Intelligence the ruler and god of the Kree Empire.

Bening’s iteration is certainly a departure from Lee and Kirby’s initial designs, which envisioned the Supreme Intelligence as a great green blob with tentacles for hair. But her descriptions of her character certainly match the canonical version of the Supreme Intelligence. “And there’s more,” she teased, “but I can’t say it.”

Captain Marvel hits theaters on March 8, 2019.

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from /Film https://www.slashfilm.com/captain-marvel-clip-annette-bening-supreme-intelligence/

Film

Jussie Smollett Suspended from ‘Empire’ Season 5 After Staging a Hate Crime Attack

Empire - Fake Jussie Smollett Attack

Jussie Smollett has been suspended from the current season of FOX’s music industry drama Empire. The decision comes after the actor was arrested for allegedly staging a hate crime attack against himself in Chicago.

At the end of January, Jussie Smollett was hospitalized after allegedly being the victim of a hate crime attack in Chicago. At the time, Smollett claimed two men attacked him in the streets of Chicago with some kind of chemical substance. They also supposedly wrapped a noose around his neck, yelled racial slurs and homophobic remarks, and even referenced the infamous “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan used by Donald Trump and his supporters.

In the past week, Chicago investigators learned that this attack may have been staged by Smollett. Authorities then released an official statement saying Smollett was upset by his salary and seeking publicity, so he plotted a fake attack one week after writing himself a threatening letter. This came after an outpouring of support from the Empire cast and crew, other fellow actors, political pundits, and assorted LGBTQ organizations. Now it has become fuel for the fire that is the cry of “fake news” from right-wing conservatives.

Following this series of events, TV Line has a statement from Empire executive producers Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, Brett Mahoney, Brian Grazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo and Dennis Hammer about the situation, including Smollett’s removal from the current season of Empire:

“The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional for all of us. Jussie has been an important member of our Empire family for the past five years and we care about him deeply. While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out. We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of Jamal from the final two episodes of the season.”

It’s not clear if Smollett will be fired from the series completely after the end of the fifth season. But it’s also not known if Empire will be renewed for a sixth season at FOX. If the show continues, it’s not likely that Smollett’s character Jamal will return in any capacity.

This situation is frustrating on a number of levels, but mostly because Smollett has made a fool of everyone who believed his story and fiercely supported him. Furthermore, he’s set a precedent for situations like this to inherently welcome skepticism from certain groups. Now, whenever a hate crime or a racially motivated act of aggression pops up in the news, this fake attack will be used as a reason to not believe certain victims. It’s an outrage, and Smollett’s actions are reprehensible.

But The Daily Show host Trevor Noah did find some silver lining in this situation:

The post Jussie Smollett Suspended from ‘Empire’ Season 5 After Staging a Hate Crime Attack appeared first on /Film.

from /Film https://www.slashfilm.com/fake-jussie-smollett-attack/

Film

Wrestling With the Fact and Fiction of ‘Fighting with My Family’

Wrestling With My Family Fact and Fiction

It’s a given that biopics adhere to real life closely but also take creative liberties in order to (hopefully) streamline the experience for great dramatic effect within a two-hour running time. Fighting With My Family is no exception, and it is very accurate, with only a few understandably tweaked elements.

Written and directed by Stephen Merchant (and based on the Channel 4 documentary of the same name that should absolutely be sought out after watching the movie and reading this), the professional wrestling-centered film tells the story of the Knight family, an unorthodox bunch of eccentrically charming British performers from Norwich, Norfolk who run their own independent wrestling league (World Association of Wrestling). The film specifically focuses on daughter Paige (birth name Saraya-Jade Bevis), who finds herself entering the world of professional wrestling.

Let’s take a look at the fact and fiction of Fighting With My Family. What actually happened? What was created for a the movie?

Fighting with My Family Trailer

The Women’s Revolution 

Paige signed with WWE developmental at the age of 18 and went on to not only have a successful and record-breaking career (she remains the youngest Divas Champion to date, also becoming the first NXT Women’s Champion along the way during what is essentially WWE’s minor-league system before they call their talent up to the main roster/live television), but one that was critical in owner Vince McMahon and the rest of the top brass moving away from sex appeal, degrading bra and panties matches, and flat-out intentionally not giving the women enough time to properly tell the story of a compelling wrestling match. They were sometimes even scolded for putting on better performances than the men, subsequently instructed to water down their movements and attacks to something less fluid and realistic (I’m not going to name names, but the complaints and stories are out there).

NXT is more than a quickly evergrowing inception from WWE legend Triple H (married to Stephanie McMahon, daughter to WWE head honcho Vince McMahon), as trying new ideas there was showing that these fans who were programmed to enjoy certain things and react in crass ways (due to the shock value Jerry Springer-style car crash approach to television in the ’90s that the company embraced) could refine their taste and support women’s wrestling. Paige, then nicknamed the Anti-Diva for her raven-hair, pale skin complexion, stiff in-ring style, and no-nonsense attitude, became the final ingredient to what WWE needed to really rebrand their approach to women’s matches. Developmental was even perplexed on how to characterize her, cluelessly suggesting her to draw influence from Lisbeth Salander of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo franchise, which thankfully never really happened. And although she has tragically retired at the young age of 26 because of neck issues, future talent has followed in her footsteps, further proving her as a one-of-a-kind trailblazer.

Fighting with My Family

NXT

Paige was actually not signed by WWE after her first tryout, but the film takes many of the reasons for her initial rejection and turns it into a plot point later in the movie where she goes through the typical sports drama motions of self-doubt and more. After moving to Florida to become a pro, Paige does not exactly make friends. (By the way, a fascinating piece of trivia is that this was not even her first time traveling to America or to another country, as since the age of 14 she had been wrestling the independent scene all over Europe, and later as an older teenager made some appearances in the all-women promotion SHIMMER based in Illinois).

She quickly becomes under the judgmental impression that the rest of the women in pro wrestling are models/stereotypical dumb blondes seeking fame or a spotlight route to alternate career paths, and generally don’t have a passion for wrestling. Now, there have absolutely been some people that fit this bill in WWE, but it’s not always the case when we first see someone, even if they do happen to be a model. Nevertheless, these peers have tans, photogenic bodies, blonde hair, and everything that once made a traditional female WWE superstar instantly popular.

So, throughout that arc of self-doubt, we see Paige struggle with the physicality of the training and promo skills (trash talking on the microphone), as her insult game is where she needed the most improvement. The point is, it all becomes too much; she dyes her hair blonde and gets a tan to fit in, which is played for some laughter, but is actually the reason she was rejected at her first tryout in real life. They saw through the fakeness immediately, and one of the truest tidbits from the film is that you will sink in WWE if your character is not an overly expressive version of your true self.

Zak and Roy Knight

Zak Knight was indeed rejected at the tryout, but nearly everything about his character arc seems to be a dramatic exaggeration that plays well for Hollywood movie purposes while also giving his sister more drive and reason to make it to the WWE stage for herself and growing the reputation and popularity of the family business. He was never told that his first tryout was the end of the line or that he did not have the “It” Factor (an unexplainable spark that companies do look for when signing talent), just that he needed to put on more muscle and lose some weight.

The tricky detail to weigh in on is there is no mention of him having a girlfriend or child at all in the documentary, but he is pictured with a child in his Twitter avatar, so it’s very well possible that these events occurred later in life but were still worked into the film. After nursing an injury, Zak would actually have another tryout where he was placed on television in a segment getting beat up by Big Show, but was still rejected.

He does still wrestle today with his brother Roy Knight, whose real-life demons were mildly exaggerated to write him out of the narrative and focus on a one-on-one sister-brother dynamic, which is the correct call considering it is the heart of the story. The real Roy Knight did go down a dark path of criminal activity after being rejected by WWE, but he does occasionally appear in the documentary.

The Rock

Paige also did not meet The Rock backstage at any tryouts for advice, but the People’s Champion was indeed the one that notified her of her debut. The rest of the family were kept in the dark (even from Paige) and had no idea of anything that was going to happen on Raw.

As far as creative decisions go, this is one of those changes that make for a more entertaining movie (who in the blue hell does not want to see Dwayne Johnson play his most famous character creation again?), but also one that will make a niche story more appealing to the general public.

The Knight Family

Clearly, the acting from Nick Frost and Lena Headey portrays parents Ricky and Julia as oddballs, sometimes cartoonish, and in the case of Ricky especially, wonderful comedic relief. And that’s not far off from who they actually are. Frost is obviously turning things up a few notches, but the business-minded and family-oriented personality is the same, it’s just executed with occasional broad comedy juxtaposed with dark humor derived from truth. Ricky Knight actually was jailed for eight years and did find wrestling (alongside his wife) as salvation, and the film deserves all the credit in the world for not shying away from that and indulging in nauseating sainthood.

However, I do find it surprising that the script doesn’t take the time to even mention one of the most mind-blowing Paige facts even as a throwaway line; Julia was seven months pregnant wrestling with Paige and unaware, not seeing a doctor until some post-fight pain. Technically, Paige has been taking bumps from inside the womb and was literally born to do this, even if she aspired to be a zoologist before starting to wrestle.

Hutch

Those unfamiliar with wrestling will definitely have some questions about Hutch (the demanding trainer played by Vince Vaughn), considering that he is revealed to be a former no-name wrestler that never made it big, but was key to The Rock’s success in the ring. Admittedly, it’s a twist I am not crazy about and might unnecessarily confuse audiences, but his references (being thrown off a 20-foot cage crashing through an announce table) are a reference to WWE legend Mick Foley, who did put his body through some uncomfortably brutal situations that helped improve Rocky’s reputation as a nasty heel/villain. Naturally, that also made him a bigger star. The point is that Mick Foley was a huge name, and although it’s understandable why the filmmakers wanted to work in homage, the execution is spotty. Plus, by the point we learn this, the audience is so invested in Paige there doesn’t need to be a twist to explain more about the “It” Factor and why her brother was rejected.

Nevertheless, it is also confirmed by Stephen Merchant that Hutch is a composite character of different developmental trainers that would have been around at the time: Dusty Rhodes, Jamie Noble, Goldust, and likely a few others. One of the greatest the industry has ever seen, late Rhodes was most responsible for improving Paige’s microphone skills.

Fighting with My Family Review

An Accurate Portrayal of WWE?

If your main takeaway from Fighting with My Family was that the depiction of the product (and Paige) don’t really fit any of the negative stigmas associated with WWE, that’s because the company has continuously evolved. WrestleMania 35 is less than two months away, and while it is obviously not going to be headlined by Paige, the rumored main event is a Triple Threat match for the Women’s Championship between Becky Lynch (the hottest act in WWE right now and who actually performed alongside Paige and Julia on the independent circuit), Ronda Rousey (a former UFC champion and no doubt an attraction with the kind of mega-star power that further encouraged WWE to legitimize women’s wrestling alongside Paige), and Charlotte Flair (the daughter of the iconic Ric Flair and a phenomenal presence in her own right).

Interestingly, Women’s Championship actually existed before the Divas Championship and was actually brought back as a replacement at the desires of Paige herself and many serious-minded wrestling fans, considering the word diva is not exactly defined as a compliment and the fact that the title resembled an odd looking butterfly toy instead of the heavy gold male competitors get to proudly wear and lug around from city to city.

With that said, the film likes to push WWE’s stance that if a wrestler can get over with the crowd, the company will get behind them and hand them the keys to the castle. During WWE programming parallel to Paige’s journey to the big stage, the writers had to scrap their blueprint for WrestleMania 30, specifically a main event match that no one wanted to watch. Vince McMahon can be extremely stubborn and fickle 99.9% of the time, but this time they had to cave and insert Daniel Bryan (another one of the hottest acts going in wrestling) into their main event plans.

So, if you watch Fighting with My Family and enjoy it to the point of seriously considering getting into wrestling, it’s important to note that following along with the storylines resembles being in an abusive relationship. That’s an extreme analogy, I know, but crowds literally had to hijack the show with nonsensical chants and not pay attention to anything going on in order for the company to humble themselves and just do what the fans want. The point is that once in a blue moon, wrestling becomes some of the most emotional television there is (and to give the company credit, it is mostly them coming up with the most memorable storylines).

Much like it’s discussed in the film, once you get that bug for wrestling there’s no turning back. I’ve seen some of the highest emotional payoffs television could offer and some of the lowest, bottom-of-the-barrel scraping feces that anyone could write, yet after 20-plus years I’m still here. Trying to quit is like quitting cigarettes; you say you will while we all laugh and say “see ya Monday”.

Paige vs. AJ Lee

The details of the climactic Divas Championship match are about 90% accurate, with the notable exceptions being different wrestling attire and extended length (Paige was victorious with only one move, the Paige-turner as seen in the film, which may have been a maneuver Zak Knight frequently used but one that had been Paige’s finisher for quite some time in NXT). Also, AJ’s bodyguard Tamina is absent in the film, which makes sense considering in the context of a film widely meant for the general public, keeping things one-on-one makes for better drama with less confusion.

The biggest change has nothing to do with the match itself, but the fact that AJ Lee is portrayed by WWE wrestler Zelina Vega. The real AJ Lee has retired from wrestling alongside her infamous husband CM Punk, who walked out on the company and fought against them in an ugly court battle. Despite CM Punk’s animosity with WWE, he never ordered AJ Lee to quit wrestling or anything and it’s safe to assume that he would have no problem with her working a reenactment of an important match for a Hollywood movie, so it is up for debate why the company just didn’t directly cast AJ herself for the scene. Vince McMahon is capable of holding grudges for decades, so who really knows. All that matters is Zelina did a fine job getting AJ’s voice and speech patterns down right while also being able to briefly work her style in the ring for a few moments.

And although Florence Pugh (who is absolutely incredible in this movie) had WWE wrestler Tessa Blanchard as a stunt double for the majority of the film, the recreation of the Divas Championship match was filmed in front of a live WWE audience at the Staples Center. So that’s all Florence making every second of her training count in what had to be one of the most intense and anxiety-inducing moments of her life.

Disability Representation

Right about now, you might be confused as hell as to why I’m going to close this out talking about disabilities. It’s not just because I’m a disabled writer looking for something to babble about, but mostly to bring awareness to the fact that Paige has accomplished all of this living with scoliosis she never knew she had and was never diagnosed with until WWE found out (clearly, their medical staff is on top of things and wants to take care of the talent). The movie never mentions it, but there you go.

So not only is Fighting with My Family an outstanding biopic that, as you have read, does a great job only embellishing the truth in areas that make sense, it’s also one about one of the most badass, toughest humans alive mentally and physically, that achieved her dreams unknowingly with a physical disability. If that’s not inspiring, I don’t know what is. Hopefully, more people than ever will witness her story and go tear the stars out from the sky themselves.

The post Wrestling With the Fact and Fiction of ‘Fighting with My Family’ appeared first on /Film.

from /Film https://www.slashfilm.com/fighting-with-my-family-fact-and-fiction/

Film

‘Space Jam 2’ Set for Summer 2021, ‘Godzilla vs Kong’ Moves Up to Avoid ‘Fast and Furious 9’

Space Jam 2

After years of fans demanding that a sequel to Space Jam be made with LeBron James (in a continued effort to compare him to Michael Jordan, the true greatest NBA player of all-time), Warner Bros. Pictures has finally set a summer 2021 release date for the live-action and animation hybrid.

But at the same time, the studio isn’t too confident that two of cinema’s most revered movie monsters going head-to-head in will be enough to contend with Vin Diesel and the crew of Fast and Furious 9. Godzilla vs Kong has been bumped up a couple months to avoid clashing with Universal’s hit international blockbuster franchise.

Space Jam 2

The Hollywood Reporter revealed Space Jam 2 has been slated for release on July 16, 2021. Black Panther director Ryan Coogler is producing this one with Terence Nance (Random Acts of Flyness) directing.

LeBron James will be taking the place of Michael Jordan as the basketball player who gets entangled with the Looney Tunes. The first Space Jam involved the Looney Tunes needing Michael Jordan to take on a team of aliens who super-sized themselves with the stolen talent of real professional NBA players to become the Monstars. We’re not sure what the plot of Space Jam 2 is, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it’s along the same lines, maybe even involving a rematch of some kind.

Back when Space Jam 2 was officially announced, LeBron James had this to say:

“The Space Jam collaboration is so much more than just me and the Looney Tunes getting together and doing this movie It’s so much bigger. I’d just love for kids to understand how empowered they can feel and how empowered they can be if they don’t just give up on their dreams.”

That’s probably why Black Panther director Ryan Coogler was brought in to produce. Actually, it would be amazing if Coogler was able to bring Michael B. Jordan into Space Jam 2 for some kind of cameo. Maybe the Looney Tunes try to get Michael Jordan to help them out again, but they end up kidnapping Michael B. Jordan instead. Make it happen!

Godzilla vs Kong

Godzilla vs Kong

Meanwhile, the summer just got a little less epic thanks to the departure of Godzilla vs Kong (image via Reddit). Following last week’s shift of Fast and Furious 9 to the exact same release date in May 2020, Warner Bros. is blinking and letting Universal have that weekend. Instead, the studio will try to dominate spring a couple months earlier with a new release date of March 13, 2020.

Honestly, this is probably a smart move by WB. March doesn’t have nearly as much competition, and the Fast and Furious movies are such box office juggernauts that you don’t want to take a chance on Godzilla vs Kong having some of its box office swiped away by the best heist crew on the planet.

Godzilla vs Kong will be directed by Adam Wingard (Blair Witch, Death Note). Even though Godzilla: King of the Monsters hasn’t even been released yet, the cast already has the sequel’s stars Millie Bobby Brown and Kyle Chandler returning for the monster mash-up. They’ll be joined by Julian Dennison (Deadpool 2), Demian Bichir (The Nun), Alexander Skarsgard (True Blood), Eiza Gonzalez (Baby Driver), Rebecca Hall (Iron Man 3), Brian Tyree Henry (If Beale Street Could Talk), and more.

The post ‘Space Jam 2’ Set for Summer 2021, ‘Godzilla vs Kong’ Moves Up to Avoid ‘Fast and Furious 9’ appeared first on /Film.

from /Film https://www.slashfilm.com/godzilla-vs-kong-and-space-jam-2-release-date/

Film

‘Space Jam 2’ Set for Summer 2021, ‘Godzilla vs Kong’ Moves Up to Avoid ‘Fast and Furious 9’

Space Jam 2

After years of fans demanding that a sequel to Space Jam be made with LeBron James (in a continued effort to compare him to Michael Jordan, the true greatest NBA player of all-time), Warner Bros. Pictures has finally set a summer 2021 release date for the live-action and animation hybrid.

But at the same time, the studio isn’t too confident that two of cinema’s most revered movie monsters going head-to-head in will be enough to contend with Vin Diesel and the crew of Fast and Furious 9. Godzilla vs Kong has been bumped up a couple months to avoid clashing with Universal’s hit international blockbuster franchise.

Space Jam 2

The Hollywood Reporter revealed Space Jam 2 has been slated for release on July 16, 2021. Black Panther director Ryan Coogler is producing this one with Terence Nance (Random Acts of Flyness) directing.

LeBron James will be taking the place of Michael Jordan as the basketball player who gets entangled with the Looney Tunes. The first Space Jam involved the Looney Tunes needing Michael Jordan to take on a team of aliens who super-sized themselves with the stolen talent of real professional NBA players to become the Monstars. We’re not sure what the plot of Space Jam 2 is, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it’s along the same lines, maybe even involving a rematch of some kind.

Back when Space Jam 2 was officially announced, LeBron James had this to say:

“The Space Jam collaboration is so much more than just me and the Looney Tunes getting together and doing this movie It’s so much bigger. I’d just love for kids to understand how empowered they can feel and how empowered they can be if they don’t just give up on their dreams.”

That’s probably why Black Panther director Ryan Coogler was brought in to produce. Actually, it would be amazing if Coogler was able to bring Michael B. Jordan into Space Jam 2 for some kind of cameo. Maybe the Looney Tunes try to get Michael Jordan to help them out again, but they end up kidnapping Michael B. Jordan instead. Make it happen!

Godzilla vs Kong

Godzilla vs Kong

Meanwhile, the summer just got a little less epic thanks to the departure of Godzilla vs Kong (image via Reddit). Following last week’s shift of Fast and Furious 9 to the exact same release date in May 2020, Warner Bros. is blinking and letting Universal have that weekend. Instead, the studio will try to dominate spring a couple months earlier with a new release date of March 13, 2020.

Honestly, this is probably a smart move by WB. March doesn’t have nearly as much competition, and the Fast and Furious movies are such box office juggernauts that you don’t want to take a chance on Godzilla vs Kong having some of its box office swiped away by the best heist crew on the planet.

Godzilla vs Kong will be directed by Adam Wingard (Blair Witch, Death Note). Even though Godzilla: King of the Monsters hasn’t even been released yet, the cast already has the sequel’s stars Millie Bobby Brown and Kyle Chandler returning for the monster mash-up. They’ll be joined by Julian Dennison (Deadpool 2), Demian Bichir (The Nun), Alexander Skarsgard (True Blood), Eiza Gonzalez (Baby Driver), Rebecca Hall (Iron Man 3), Brian Tyree Henry (If Beale Street Could Talk), and more.

The post ‘Space Jam 2’ Set for Summer 2021, ‘Godzilla vs Kong’ Moves Up to Avoid ‘Fast and Furious 9’ appeared first on /Film.

from /Film https://www.slashfilm.com/godzilla-vs-kong-and-space-jam-2-release-date/

Film

‘How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World’ Review: A Sincere, Soaring End to One of the Best Animated Franchises

how to train your dragon the hidden world review

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World feels like the end. And that is a blessing for the film, which wraps up its narrative threads so neatly that it is as smooth as the scales on the backs of the DreamWorks franchise’s titular dragons. While it’s not quite the swan song that the franchise — which started with the near-perfect 2009 film How to Train Your Dragon — could have had, The Hidden World never falters in delivering the raw, emotional power and arresting visuals (and yes, the tears) that the series is known for.

Dean DeBlois returns to direct the third entry in the franchise, which picks up one year after the defeat of Drago, the villainous dragon hunter of How to Train Your Dragon 2. Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) has transformed his scrappy Viking village of Berk into a thriving dragon and human utopia, but one that suffers from overcrowding as Hiccup and Toothless continue to rescue captured dragons from hunters. Unfortunately, Berk’s prosperity has also made it a massive target for dragon hunters, including a group of warlords who seek to fulfill Drago’s dream of amassing an army of dragons. To achieve their goals, they recruit infamous dragon hunter Grimmel the Grisly (F. Murray Abraham, in a wonderfully sinister performance) to defeat Hiccup and capture Toothless once and for all.

The narrative is a little thin for the emotional weight that it carries. Though it’s a natural next step in the escalation in the dragon and human conflicts, it also hits many of the same beats as How to Train Your Dragon 2: the villain is a ruthless dragon hunter who also uses dragons for his own purposes, Berk is threatened, everyone wants a piece of Toothless. But the real meat of this film is in the fraying of Hiccup and Toothless’ relationship as the discovery of a female Light Fury draws the dragon away from his longtime best friend.

The emotional and narrative backbone of the How to Train Your Dragon franchise has always been Hiccup and Toothless’ friendship. Their codependency and Hiccup’s own self-confidence being rooted in that relationship has remained a fascinating thread through the How to Train Your Dragon series, and The Hidden World finally gets to truly explore that. Their story is more than just that of “a boy and his dog” or however many iterations we’ve seen throughout the years; it’s something much deeper and unspoken. So to see them drift apart is almost more tragic than the brief moment of mind-controlled betrayal that we saw in How to Train Your Dragon 2. This is a deterioration that is more natural, and thus more unavoidable: that of best friends getting separated by the bittersweet ravages of time, and of growing up.

It’s when the film swings its focus on that relationship, that The Hidden World starts to soar — otherwise the film begins to feel as overcrowded as the village of Berk and its too many dragons. Outside of Hiccup and Toothless, the vast number of beloved supporting characters just begin to feel unnecessary. Even Valka (Cate Blanchett), who was given such importance in the second film, is relegated to a wise word of advice every now and then, and maybe one and a half cool action sequences. The exception to this is Astrid (America Ferrara) who is stronger when united with Hiccup, as opposed to her separate storyline that she received in the last film. It’s rare to see a sweet, healthy romance developed over the course of 10 years in an animated film, and both Baruchel and Ferrara make it look organic.

That’s not to say that I don’t love the colorful ensemble that we grew up with. It’s so easy to fall back in with these wacky characters, as shown right off the bat in the thrilling opening sequence, which moves lightning-quick between action and comedy as Hiccup and company raid a ship of dragon hunters. The characters’ easy camaraderie and the screwball humor of the films is in the DNA of the How to Train Your Dragon series. But then the jokes keep coming. And coming. By the third or fourth beat on a recurring joke (did we need that many beard jokes from Tuffnut?), it starts to become real old, real fast. I’m not opposed to a little levity, but it does sometimes throw off the tone of the film — preceding an epic, nearly operatic fight sequence between Hiccup and Grimmel with a silly bit about rotund baby dragons.

But the comedy never takes away from the greatest strengths of the film, which aside from its sheer emotional power, remain in the dazzling, atmospheric visuals. Oscar-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins returns to consult on The Hidden World, which somehow manages to upstage the already gorgeously cinematic first and second films. The flight sequences continue to be absolutely breathtaking, while the new setting of the “Hidden World” contains some of the most ethereal animation that the series has pulled off. The camera has never been so delightfully mobile, the colors never so exquisite, and it’s all accentuated by John Powell’s sweeping score.

The visuals excel too in the great stretches of dialogue-less scenes between Toothless and the Light Fury. It recalls the brilliant physical chemistry in WALL-E, which took its cues from silent films and Buster Keaton-esque slapstick to create a full-bodied romance. Toothless and the Light Fury’s scenes are charming and funny in the same way, taking its sweet time to build their uncertain courtship as they dance and purr at each other. It gives the film a refreshing break from its narrative, and remind us of why we fell in love with dragons in the first place.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is not a perfect movie, but it’s a perfect ending. There’s an inevitability to The Hidden World, whose narrative is barreling toward one, and only one, destination: emotional devastation. But the result is something a little more nuanced and tender than that. The Hidden World isn’t “big.” It doesn’t offer a shattering emotional moment, it doesn’t tear your heart in pieces. Instead, it tugs at your heartstrings and gently guides you to the finish line of a wondrous, lovely franchise that was more than we deserved.

/Film Rating: 8 out of 10

The post ‘How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World’ Review: A Sincere, Soaring End to One of the Best Animated Franchises appeared first on /Film.

from /Film https://www.slashfilm.com/how-to-train-your-dragon-the-hidden-world-review/

Film

‘How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World’ Review: A Sincere, Soaring End to One of the Best Animated Franchises

how to train your dragon the hidden world review

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World feels like the end. And that is a blessing for the film, which wraps up its narrative threads so neatly that it is as smooth as the scales on the backs of the DreamWorks franchise’s titular dragons. While it’s not quite the swan song that the franchise — which started with the near-perfect 2009 film How to Train Your Dragon — could have had, The Hidden World never falters in delivering the raw, emotional power and arresting visuals (and yes, the tears) that the series is known for.

Dean DeBlois returns to direct the third entry in the franchise, which picks up one year after the defeat of Drago, the villainous dragon hunter of How to Train Your Dragon 2. Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) has transformed his scrappy Viking village of Berk into a thriving dragon and human utopia, but one that suffers from overcrowding as Hiccup and Toothless continue to rescue captured dragons from hunters. Unfortunately, Berk’s prosperity has also made it a massive target for dragon hunters, including a group of warlords who seek to fulfill Drago’s dream of amassing an army of dragons. To achieve their goals, they recruit infamous dragon hunter Grimmel the Grisly (F. Murray Abraham, in a wonderfully sinister performance) to defeat Hiccup and capture Toothless once and for all.

The narrative is a little thin for the emotional weight that it carries. Though it’s a natural next step in the escalation in the dragon and human conflicts, it also hits many of the same beats as How to Train Your Dragon 2: the villain is a ruthless dragon hunter who also uses dragons for his own purposes, Berk is threatened, everyone wants a piece of Toothless. But the real meat of this film is in the fraying of Hiccup and Toothless’ relationship as the discovery of a female Light Fury draws the dragon away from his longtime best friend.

The emotional and narrative backbone of the How to Train Your Dragon franchise has always been Hiccup and Toothless’ friendship. Their codependency and Hiccup’s own self-confidence being rooted in that relationship has remained a fascinating thread through the How to Train Your Dragon series, and The Hidden World finally gets to truly explore that. Their story is more than just that of “a boy and his dog” or however many iterations we’ve seen throughout the years; it’s something much deeper and unspoken. So to see them drift apart is almost more tragic than the brief moment of mind-controlled betrayal that we saw in How to Train Your Dragon 2. This is a deterioration that is more natural, and thus more unavoidable: that of best friends getting separated by the bittersweet ravages of time, and of growing up.

It’s when the film swings its focus on that relationship, that The Hidden World starts to soar — otherwise the film begins to feel as overcrowded as the village of Berk and its too many dragons. Outside of Hiccup and Toothless, the vast number of beloved supporting characters just begin to feel unnecessary. Even Valka (Cate Blanchett), who was given such importance in the second film, is relegated to a wise word of advice every now and then, and maybe one and a half cool action sequences. The exception to this is Astrid (America Ferrara) who is stronger when united with Hiccup, as opposed to her separate storyline that she received in the last film. It’s rare to see a sweet, healthy romance developed over the course of 10 years in an animated film, and both Baruchel and Ferrara make it look organic.

That’s not to say that I don’t love the colorful ensemble that we grew up with. It’s so easy to fall back in with these wacky characters, as shown right off the bat in the thrilling opening sequence, which moves lightning-quick between action and comedy as Hiccup and company raid a ship of dragon hunters. The characters’ easy camaraderie and the screwball humor of the films is in the DNA of the How to Train Your Dragon series. But then the jokes keep coming. And coming. By the third or fourth beat on a recurring joke (did we need that many beard jokes from Tuffnut?), it starts to become real old, real fast. I’m not opposed to a little levity, but it does sometimes throw off the tone of the film — preceding an epic, nearly operatic fight sequence between Hiccup and Grimmel with a silly bit about rotund baby dragons.

But the comedy never takes away from the greatest strengths of the film, which aside from its sheer emotional power, remain in the dazzling, atmospheric visuals. Oscar-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins returns to consult on The Hidden World, which somehow manages to upstage the already gorgeously cinematic first and second films. The flight sequences continue to be absolutely breathtaking, while the new setting of the “Hidden World” contains some of the most ethereal animation that the series has pulled off. The camera has never been so delightfully mobile, the colors never so exquisite, and it’s all accentuated by John Powell’s sweeping score.

The visuals excel too in the great stretches of dialogue-less scenes between Toothless and the Light Fury. It recalls the brilliant physical chemistry in WALL-E, which took its cues from silent films and Buster Keaton-esque slapstick to create a full-bodied romance. Toothless and the Light Fury’s scenes are charming and funny in the same way, taking its sweet time to build their uncertain courtship as they dance and purr at each other. It gives the film a refreshing break from its narrative, and remind us of why we fell in love with dragons in the first place.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is not a perfect movie, but it’s a perfect ending. There’s an inevitability to The Hidden World, whose narrative is barreling toward one, and only one, destination: emotional devastation. But the result is something a little more nuanced and tender than that. The Hidden World isn’t “big.” It doesn’t offer a shattering emotional moment, it doesn’t tear your heart in pieces. Instead, it tugs at your heartstrings and gently guides you to the finish line of a wondrous, lovely franchise that was more than we deserved.

/Film Rating: 8 out of 10

The post ‘How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World’ Review: A Sincere, Soaring End to One of the Best Animated Franchises appeared first on /Film.

from /Film https://www.slashfilm.com/how-to-train-your-dragon-the-hidden-world-review/