Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jon M. Chu make some magic in the In the Heights trailer


Lin-Manuel Miranda brings his Hamilton magic to Washington Heights, New York. Under the direction of Crazy Rich Asians’ Jon M. Chu, In the Heights looks to be a sweet summer film. Just look at this cast:

Anthony Ramos (She’s Gotta Have it)
Melissa Barrera (Starz’ Vida)
Marc Anthony (No introduction needed)
Jimmy Smits (Come on, should I even try?)
Daphne Rubin-Vega (Rent, Wild Things)
Dascha Polanco (The Irishman, Orange is the New Black)
Stephanie Beatriz (Brooklyn Nine-Nine, One Day at a Time)
Corey Hawkins (Kong: Skull Island, Straight Outta Compton)

Of course, having directed both Step Up 2: The Streets and Step Up 3D, Chu looks like he makes easy work of handling the dance numbers and musical arrangements. You couldn’t ask for a better pairing between him and Miranda.

The film is an adaptation of the Tony Award Winning Best Musical  by Miranda, based off of Quiara Alegria Hudes’ novel. If this works out, here’s hoping we get a theatrical version of Hamilton as well.

Enjoy.

 

There’s something strange going on in the Ghostbusters: Afterlife Trailer


So here we are with yet another Ghostbusters film that wants to take things in a different direction. We’ve had guys fight, girls fight, and now, we’ll have kids fight. The could be what the franchise needs right now. Shows like Stranger Things and films like IT: Chapter One have shown that kids in stories pull in audiences. Jason Reitman (Juno, Tully) takes over directing duties here with his dad, Ivan, peeking in now and then.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife takes place in a more rural area, where a family (led by The Leftovers’ Carrie Coon) have moved in. The kids stumble on some strange events in town, and I guess this leads them to finding out who they’re related to. The Ghost traps, the Photon Packs and Ecto-1 are all still there, though I’ll admit I’m going to miss Kate McKinnon’s geeky gadget girl here. Hopefully, they’ll be able to make up with that in one of these characters, who could something of a TMNT Donatello-like whiz kid to the team.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife, starring Carrie Coon (Avengers: Infinity War), Paul Rudd (Ant-Man and the Wasp), McKenna Grace (Captain Marvel, The Haunting of Hill House), and Finn Wolfhard (IT: Chapter One, IT:Chapter Two) will hit cinemas in the Summer of 2020.

In Memoriam: René Auberjonois (1940-2019)


René Auberjonois passed away today at the age of 79, If you picked a decade between the 70’s and today, people would remember him for different things. In the 70’s, Auberjonois played the weasely Clayton Endicott III on Benson, starring Robert Guillaume, and his character was often the butt of many jokes. He also played a role in the 70’s remake of King Kong, along with The Eyes of Laura Mars, directed by John Guillermin. In the late eighties, he voiced the Chef in Disney’s The Little Mermaid, who tried to cook poor Sebastian.

The 90’s and 2000’s may be where Auberjonois had the most impact. There are a number of memorials pouring in from Star Trek fans. Many Star Trek fans knew him as Odo, the shape shifting Security Officer on board Deep Space Nine. Odo was one of the coolest characters in Star Trek lore, in my opinion, even better than the Borg. Odo’s serious nature and gruff style was a departure from the roles I was used to seeing him in.  Auberjonois never failed to keep a little humor going thoughout.

In 2004, Auberjonois joined David Kelley’s Boston Legal with fellow Star Trek star, William Shatner. As Paul Lewiston, his character acted as the straight man among the madness at Crane, Poole and Schmidt. He had some great appearances on the show for 5 seasons, in particular an arc that had him dealing with a drug addicted daughter.

He’ll be missed.

Ryan Reynolds improves his game in the Free Guy Trailer


You have to hand it to Ryan Reynolds, he knows how to market his projects. In the course of a few days, he made an advertisement for a TV that linked to a new film and his gin company, Aviation Gin. He also made a separate commercial for Aviation Gin starring Monica Ruiz, who everyone knows as the wife in the Peleton ads. Now, 20th Century Fox reunites Reynolds and his Green Lantern co-star, Taika Waititi in Free Guy.

Free Guy has Reynolds playing an NPC (Non-Playable Character) in a Video Game that is due to be shut down. Using classic video game items like power ups, guns and dance emotes, Reynolds’ character decides it’s time to level up. While we’re not sure of where this all goes, it’s good to see Ryan bring some of that Deadpool flair under the Disney umbrella.

Free Guy, Directed by Shawn Levy (Date Night), is set to release on July 3, 2020.

James Bond returns in the No Time to Die Trailer


Daniel Craig’s final outing as James Bond is almost upon us. With True Detective’s Cary Fukunaga taking over the direction this time, No Time to Die brings a mix of new faces and returning favorites. Though not much is truly known of the story, it looks like Bond’s relationship with Madeleine (Lea Seydoux) may be on a rocky road, enough to bring him back into service.

Rami Malek is also on board as the villain, which I’m personally excited for, and Ana de Armas (Knives Out) teams up again with Craig, though we’re not exactly sure who’s side she’s on. Lashana Lynch (Captain Marvel) looks to be a new member of the Double O ranking. Coming back are Christoph Waltz, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Rory Kinnear, Jeffrey Wright, and Naomie Harris.

No Time to Die opens in cinemas in April 2020.  Enjoy!

Sonic gets a makeover in the 2nd Sonic the Hedgehog Trailer


Earlier in the year, when Paramount released the trailer for the Sonic The Hedgehog movie, audiences were up in arms over Sonic’s look. It was so bad that the production team shelved the film for a bit and reworked the CGI. Six months later, we have a vastly improved Hedgehog, and everything appears to be looking better for the film. The character has more expressive eyes, the classic sneakers and what seems like a new voiceover.

Now we just have to hope that all of that extra work by the effects team is rewarded by moviegoers when the film comes out. Here’s hoping, anyway.

Sonic the Hedgehog, starring Jim Carrey, James Marsden and Ben Schwartz as the voice of Sonic, premieres in time for Valentine’s Day of 2020.

Film Review: Doctor Sleep (Dir. by Mike Flanagan)


 

If I asked you about Stephen King’s The Shining, would the book or the film come to mind?

DoctorSleepPosterWhen it comes to adapting Stephen King’s stories to film, it’s not an easy feat. King himself had a problem turning his own short story “Trucks” into something good when he directed Maximum Overdrive. For every great film like Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, or It-Chapter One, we occasionally get a misstep like The Dark Tower or It-Chapter Two.  As King can sometimes get wordy in his books, I’ve felt the best adaptations were the ones where the director’s own vision came into play. Kubrick made a number or changes to King’s story, including the Grady twins and the hedge maze, which were never in the novel. The film is so widely recognized that most people recall events in the movie, rather than the book. That’s the effect Kubrick had. 

With Doctor Sleep, Mike Flanagan once again proves he’s a fantastic fit for King. The film moves at a great pace, with great performances by Rebecca Ferguson and newcomer Kyliegh Curran. In an age where audiences are typically quiet, the applause that occurred in scenes during last night’s preview screening were great to hear. The film manages to pay homage to Kubrick’s The Shining and King’s Novel of Doctor Sleep while still completely showcasing Flanagan’s vision. Of course, we already knew this from Flanagan taking on King’s own Gerald’s Game and Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House.  One might even argue that for this film, we may in time recall Flanagan’s tale more clearly than King’s.

Doctor Sleep takes place after the events of The Shining, with Dan Torrance (Ewan McGregor) suffering from the same demons that plagued his father, Jack. Although the keeps to himself, he drinks too much, gets into brawls, and is unable to hold down decent work. Dan is also haunted by the Overlook Hotel, and the power that drew the souls to him known as The Shining. The Shining (or just the Shine) is a coveted power in King’s lore. When a group of nomads that feed on the Shine (in a way that’s reminiscent of Mick Garris’ Sleepwalkers) discover a girl with the same ability, Dan is brought out of hiding. 

Fans of the original Kubrick film will see there’s a lot of love here. You’ll be able to count some of the references to The Shining, from objects in a room to different locales. For casting, Flanagan uses a mixture of old favorites and new faces. You’ll recognize some of them right from the start, such as Bruce Greenwood and Violet McGraw. Others, like Jacob Tremblay (The Predator) are welcome additions. Rather than relying on footage from the original Shining, Flanagan recreates certain elements with new cast members, which I felt worked extremely well here. I’m not sure how others will take it.

Ewan McGregor is good in the role of Dan Torrance, which feels more like his Mark Renton character from Trainspotting than anything else to me.  This isn’t a bad thing, but it works. The film truly belongs to both Rebecca Ferguson (Mission Impossible: Fallout) and Kyliegh Curran. Ferguson’s Rose the Hat is a wicked villain, and she carries the role with a sinister, yet stylish flair. Ferguson has some of the best scenes in the film, particularly when paired with Zahn McClarnon (Midnight, Texas and Westworld), who plays Crow Daddy. Kyliegh Curran chews up the scenes she’s in, easily handling screen time with McGregor and Ferguson like a pro. Rounding out the cast are Cliff Curtis (Sunshine), Carl Lumbly (Mantis) and Emily Alyn Lind (The Babysitter). 

Doctor-Sleep-1

Dan Torrance (Ewan McGregor) can’t run from his past in Mike Flanagan’s Doctor Sleep.

As for the fear factor, there is some terror in the hunt for Abra and the way that the group interact. Doctor Sleep doesn’t have much in the way of jump scares, but makes up for it with some tense moments. I didn’t feel as scared as I did with It-Chapter One, but I cared enough about the characters to worry about how the story was going to turn out. That might be a turn off for those expecting to watch the movie from between their fingers or run out of the theatre screaming. If you enjoyed Flanagan’s other works, such as Hush or Oculus, you’ll be fine.

Speaking of Hush, Doctor Sleep lacks a Kate Siegel cameo. Flanagan is Siegel’s partner in crime (and husband). Together, they’ve been in almost every film they’d done. I’ve gotten used to going “Oh, there’s Kate!”, while watching his films. It’s not an issue at all, but it would’ve been cool to see her.

The camera work for Doctor Sleep is very even, though there are a few special effects scenes that really stand out and picked up some applause (or gasps) once they were over. The one main drawback I had with the film was that it was a little difficult to keep up with all of the locations and time periods early on. Even though everything’s clearly labeled, it took me a moment to recognize just where and when things were occurring. Not a terrible thing, though.

Overall, Doctor Sleep is an easy film to recommend. It has some great performances, and manages to be a great follow up to The Shining, while showing a lot of love for the source material.

Doctor Sleep hits cinemas on Friday, November 8th, and I’ll make a return visit.