HBO showcases The Last of Us Teaser Trailer!


Naughty Dog’s The Last Of Us was one of the first modern videogames to gain my younger cousin’s interest in playing. Although I finished it the normal difficulty, she was able to complete it on its hardest settings and went on to continue with the sequel. So, we’ve been looking forward to HBO’s Live Action adaptation. What I didn’t realize was that Craig Mazin was involved in this, whose work on Chernobyl was amazing. Mazin is handling the writing along with the original author, Neil Druckman.

The Last of Us takes place in a world torn apart, where Joel & Ellie (Pedro Pascal & Bella Ramsey, both featured in Game of Thrones) have a difficult mission to accomplish. The show looks as if it’s keeping most of the elements from the game. The Fireflies and the Clickers, they’re all there. The cast listing even includes some of the voice cast from the game. I’m curious to see how they’ll incorporate that into this.

The Last of Us is set to premiere next year, on HBO and HBO Max.

Pooh and Piglet go on a rampage in the Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey Trailer


I didn’t realize that Winnie the Pooh fell into the public domain. As such, anyone with a story could publish something, and sure enough, here we are. Thanks to writer/director Rhys Frake-Waterfield, Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey takes A.A. Milne’s classic characters and makes them feral. Pooh Bear and Piglet are on a rampage, seemingly slaughtering anyone in their path. Will anyone survive? We’ll have to see. No date is given for a release.

Also, this opens up new doors. I can’t wait for Charlotte’s Web: Wilbur’s Requiem (a title I just came up with), where Charlotte’s other children return to Zuckerman’s Farm to avenge their mother under the belief that Wilbur forced her to write for him. Can the Cavatica sisters (Joy, Aranea and Nellie) defend the farm? That’s a story for another universe, I suppose.

Daniel Radcliffe & Evan Rachel Wood dare to be stupid in the Weird trailer!


That might sound like a rude title, but it’s not.

Most people who know Weird Al Yankovic’s music are aware of Dare to be Stupid, off The Transformers: The Movie soundtrack. If not that, then songs like Eat it! or the equally epic Trapped at the Drive Thru quickly come to mind. Though I don’t own a Roku (yet!), I’m kind of excited for this. The movie covers Weird Al’s humble beginnings and rise to accordion superstar. Daniel Radcliffe (Horns, Swiss Army Man) and Evan Rachel Wood (HBO’s Westworld, Kajillionaire) seem perfectly cast as Weird Al and Madonna here.

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story will be available on November 4 on The Roku Channel.

The Bad Guys (dir by Pierre Perifel)


I’ve always loved movies about heists, and The Bad Guys hits the mark on so many levels. Based on the Scholastic books by Aaron Blabey, The Bad Guys focuses on a group of thieves known for their dastardly deeds. They also happen to be some of the scariest animals around. We have Mr. Wolf (Sam Rockwell, Moon), the charismatic leader of the group. Mr. Shark (Craig Robinson, This is the End) is a master of disguise. Mr. Snake (Marc Maron, Netflix’s Glow) can slither through any vent and doubles as rope when necessary. Mr. Piranha (Anthony Ramos, In the Heights) is the brute force / muscle of the team. And finally, my favorite is Ms. Tarantula, a.k.a. “Webs” (Awkwafina, Jumanji: The Next Level), who can hack into any computer system. They are the 2nd most wanted thieves in the city (the top spot going to the elusive jewel thief , The Crimson Paw) and Officer Misty Luggins (Alex Bornstein, Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) is doing her best to apprehend them.

After a cool opening that introduces us to the team, they’re challenged by Mayor Diane Foxington (Zazie Beetz, Deadpool 2) as being off their game. This turns the crew’s attention to Professor Marmalade (Richard Ayoade, The Watch) and his Golden Dolphin as a possible trophy. When their plot fails and they are arrested, Professor Marmalade strikes a deal with the Mayor to help turn The Bad Guys into The Good Guys. Will the team put their thieving ways behind them or are they incapable of change?

Pierre Perifel previously worked on Kung Fu Panda 2 and directed the animated short film Bilby, the latter of which is closer in style to The Bad Guys. It’s almost a comic book style that reminds me of Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse, mostly. I liked it overall, but there are some moments where it seems like the anthropomorphic characters have better designs to them than their human counterparts. It’s not terrible (It’s not even truly noticeable unless you’re really paying attention), but just a nitpick.

Where The Bad Guys shines is the cast. Each main character has a good match with the voice actor behind it. Robinson’s Shark is a huggable bear at heart. The only one who threw me off in the cast was Ayoade’s Marmalade, who reminded me a lot of Rhys Darby (Jumanji). He’s still great, though, trying to help the group turn over a new leaf. It’s Rockwell and Maron’s performances that are the strongest here, even from the start of the film. Rockwell’s Wolf is charismatic and smooth (and is a great dancer). Maron’s gruff and grumbly, unless the moment brings a guinea pig in view. I couldn’t imagine anyone else for these roles.

Ms. Tarantula (Akwafina) is an expert hacker and a member of The Bad Guys.

The pacing for the film is pretty quick, for a movie that runs an hour and 40 minutes. I would have preferred a few more heists in the film, but the story we are given works. Although the last 3rd of the film is a little over the top and I would have liked to have seen more with the ending, The Bad Guys comes with a number of twists and surprises that had me laughing and cheering on the team. Much of the dialog and style seems like it could have come from films like Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, Mann’s Thief or Soderbergh’s Out of Sight, but set in such a way that it’s tailored to younger audiences. While the story does have some morals to it, the film never really reaches early Pixar levels of emotion. Only the youngest of fans may want to reach for a tissue or two at some point, if that. I wouldn’t mind seeing this get a sequel at some point.

Daniel Pemberton (Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse) brings a blues/jazzy tone to the score of The Bad Guys. It almost channels David Holmes’ Ocean’s 11 in some ways, but again, that just the genre. Additionally, tracks like “Brand New Day” by The Heavy, “Good Tonight” by Anthony Ramos, and “Stop Drop Roll” by Can’t Stop Won’t Stop help are great touches to the movie. One nitpick I did have was that the trailer used Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” to promote the film, but it wasn’t actually used in the movie. I thought it would have made a perfect fit.

Overall, The Bad Guys is a great little heist film for kids (and adults alike), with a great set of characters. The redemption arc isn’t a heavy hitting one, but it does offer the notion that even the scariest of characters aren’t as bad as they appear.

Kingdom of the Spiders (dir by John “Bud” Carlos)


While many celebrated International Cat Day on August 8th, it also happened to be National Tarantula Appreciation Day. As a result, I decided to return to a film that terrified me when I was little (and watched when I was far too young), 1977’s Kingdom of the Spiders.

As a kid growing up near the beginning of cable, movies were regularly during the weekends shown on prime time TV. This consisted of about 5 main channels in New York City: CBS (Channel 2), NBC (Channel 4), ABC (Channel 7), WNYW (Channel 5, which would become Fox in the Mid80s), WWOR (Channel 9), and WPIX (Channel 11). In addition to this, Channel 5, 9, and 11 would have movies playing on weekday afternoons just before the nightly news. I ended up watching Kingdom of the Spiders at my grandmother’s house, from under her bed. I didn’t sleep well for a while after this movie.

I don’t know why she ever owned it, but my Grandmother had this near clear shower curtain with a giant red and black spider on it. The web started from the center and spread out to the edges of the curtain. The image below is the closest approximation I could find to the one she owned. This was the source of my arachnophobia, which caused me to either enter the bathroom with my eyes closed, or use the basement bathroom (which had the rare added chance of seeing actual spiders). She tried to make me see the reality of it once, scooping me up and lifting me in front of the curtain to realize it was just a plastic sheet. My imagination was a little too much, however, and all I saw was something that wanted to cocoon and drink me dry. I screamed and flailed in her arms, and that was the end of that.

The premise for Kingdom of the Spiders is incredibly simple. At first, life is pretty comfortable in Verde Valley, Arizona. You’ve a family of cattle ranchers in the Colby’s (played by Spartacus‘ Woody Strode and Can’t Stop the Music‘s Altovise Davis). However, when a farmer’s cattle begin to fall ill and eventually dies, Dr. Rack Hansen (William Shatner, Miss Congeniality) is brought in to figure out what’s happening. Between heavily flirting with this brother’s widow Terry (Marcy Lafferty, Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Shatner’s wife at the time) and taking care of her daughter, Laura (Natasha Ryan, The Amityville Horror), it’s a surprise Rack has the time to help the Colby’s out.

When he sends in the blood samples to a lab for more research, the diagnosis is spider venom on a highly toxic scale. It’s so toxic that a spider specialist, Diane Ashley (Tiffany Bolling, Open House) is brought in to help. Of course, this springs Rack into action. After they meet, he cuts her off on the road, gives her his best one liner and then picks her up and takes her to his favorite restaurant (in her car, mind you). Rack’em, indeed.

Over lunch, they come to an understanding that DDT might be the cause of their tarantula menace. Having killed off their regular food sources of insects, the spiders have moved on to larger game. A quick visit back to the Colby Ranch confirms their fears. A spider mound is on their farm and the decision is eventually made to burn it down. Burning helps, but little do the humans realize that the spiders had exit strategies of their own. They also had additional mounds that the humans never even noticed.

With time running around out, Rack and Diane eventually decide the answer is more DDT, but the spiders thwart the attempt and decide from that point on, it’s all out war. Can the town survive the assault?

So, the spiders in Kingdom of the Spiders are just tarantulas. While all tarantulas are spiders, not all spiders are tarantulas. We’re not talking about the small house spiders from Frank Marshall’s Arachnophobia. They can be dangerous too, depending on the type. The Brown Recluse in particular has venom that is necrotic and will eat away the flesh around a bite. This movie focuses on the large hairy ones.

From what I’ve read, while most tarantulas have venom, it’s not particularly dangerous to humans. The only real exception to this are the Funnel Web spiders of Australia. They’re super aggressive and their venom can kill. Thankfully, according to a USA Today article, no one on that continent’s been killed by one since 1980. Additionally, some tarantulas only really use their fangs as a last resort. They will usually choose to flick the hairs off their back, which sting the eyes and noses of most predators.

There were about 5000 tarantulas used in the movie, with a mix of real ones for the early close ups and fake models for some of the wider shots. I’ve always wondered if the American Humane Society supervised the film, because it looks looks like a number of them were killed (at least in the last third).

Shatner is pretty much himself here, bringing that style he always does to a role. It’s not the over the top levels of Captain Kirk or Denny Crane, but it’s still fun to watch. Though I haven’t been able to confirm it, I’m told that Tiffany Bolling was one of the few people that wasn’t scared to work with the arachnids and that helped to get her the role. Most of the cast are okay, thought their reactions to spiders might cause one to laugh more than to share in their fear. Granted, I’d probably react the same way as most of them.

There’s one part involving Mrs. Colby with a gun that shares the same musical piece used in David Cronenberg’s Rabid and Scott Sanders’ Black Dynamite. Much like the classic Wilhelm scream, this musical piece seems to pop up in older movies now and then.

Overall, Kingdom of the Spiders is a decent film to unleash upon your Arachnophobic friends to watch them squirm. The spiders may spend more time running away from their prey, but some low to the ground camera shots help to make things more interesting.

Farrell & Gleeson reunite in The Banshees of Inisherin Trailer!


Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) reunites his In Bruges stars Colin Farrell & Brendan Gleeson in The Banshees of Inisherin. I’m really looking forward to this one. The Banshees of Inisherin places two friends at odds when one decides he’s suddenly had enough of the friendship.

The film also stars Kerry Condon (also from Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) and Barry Keoghan (Dunkirk, The Eternals)

The Banshees of Inisherin is set to release on October 21st.

A24 releases the trailer for X’s Prequel, Pearl


Anyone who watched Ti West’s X since it’s release in March were given a glance at Pearl, it’s prequel. I saw the sneak peek teaser when X was featured in A24’s Screening Room, the company’s digital showcase. I thought it was just something tacked to the end of the film, like Albert Pyun’s announcement for Tales of the Ancient Empire at the end of The Sword and The Sorcerer. I thought they were kidding.

Sure enough, here we are.

Pearl takes place years before the events of X, where we get to find out how things progressed to where they ended up. Mia Goth (Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria) returns for this tale, and I’m a little curious to see what they come up with here.

Pearl is set to release this September.

Comic-Con ’22 – The Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Teaser


With the passing of Chadwick Boseman, Ryan Coogler’s follow up to Marvel Studios’ Black Panther has some big shoes to fill. From the looks of this teaser, it appears they’re approaching the sequel with tons of reverence and perhaps Shuri (Letitia Wright) is possibly taking up the mantle of the Black Panther. With a little bit of “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” by Bob Marley fused with Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright”, things are looking hopeful. It’s possible that with all of the focus on the water and beneath the ocean, the Submariner could even be involved.

With most of the main cast returning, save for Daniel Kaluuya who was tied up on Jordan Peele’s Nope, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is due for release this November.

Film Review: Top Gun: Maverick (dir. by Joseph Kosinski)


From the moment it was announced, I had low expectations for Top Gun: Maverick. I figured it was just Tom Cruise milking his other franchise for what it’s worth. I mean, I adore the Mission: Impossible movies, but was there ever really a need to return to the Top Gun Universe? I didn’t believe so, particularly with Joseph Kosinski being involved. I enjoyed Oblivion and I’ll die on the hill that is Tron: Legacy, but also recognize that Tron: Legacy could have been a better film if the writers just didn’t paste the original film and wipe it down with a new coat of paint. I think I may have incorrectly put that on Kosinski, rather than the writers.

Top Gun: Maverick does pretty much the same thing here. If you’ve seen the original Top Gun, you already have the blueprint for the sequel in your head. You could play both films side by side, and not counting for the pacing between them, align each scene with the sequel’s counterpart. Does that even make for a sequel? Did we learn nothing from Star Wars: The Force Awakens?

I don’t know. I didn’t hate Top Gun: Maverick at all. It’s just that odd feeling at having seen it all before and almost completely guessing what’s going to happen next. If you can get past that, it’s a good film. By the end of the movie, I wanted to buy a computer, a Thrustmaster HOTAS set and a copy of DCS to fly with.

Top Gun: Maverick continues the story of ace fighter pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, once the 2nd Best at Top Gun. Now testing special aircraft, he lands himself into trouble again with the Navy, only to be sent back to Top Gun. Yes, he was an instructor there and this new film references this. However, Maverick’s return has him training a team of elite pilots on a special bombing mission requiring some unorthodox maneuvers. In training the pilots, the best will be declared the mission leader. When Maverick discovers that one of pilots is Brad Bradshaw (Miles Teller, Whiplash), son of his deceased Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) Goose, tensions erupt. Can Maverick get the team to improve and be ready for the mission?

Writing wise, Top Gun: Maverick isn’t bad. It gets in, does the job and gets right back out. No scene is drawn out too far, no storyline angle seems to be mulled on. With two main writers and three screenplay writers (including Mission: Impossible‘s Christopher McQuarrie), it’s pretty tight. Again, there’s the problem of using the same story map as the original. There doesn’t appear to be many obstacles for them to hurdle, storywise. Like Underwater, having so many familiar sites and scenes helps. What I did like was that it didn’t point many fingers at any one place. The opposing fighters are “5th Gen” craft, but you don’t really get any kind of feeling of where they’re from. Were they Russian? Serbian? Chinese? Canadian? Unless I missed something in the watch, I didn’t catch who the enemy was. They were just men in planes with missiles and guns.

I liked the cast here. Jon Hamm (Tag)makes for a good opponent to Cruise, and they have good scenes together. There’s also something of a love story to the film, though it’s light. While it would have been cool to have Kelly McGinnis back, Jennifer Connelly (Alita: Battle Angel) made for a good replacement and her character’s okay. For the young pilots, I particularly liked Lewis Pullman’s (Bad Times at the El Royale) Bob and Monica Barbero (NBCs Chicago Justice) Phoenix, along with Glen Powell’s (Everybody Wants Some!) Hangman. Each one brought some style and attitude to the mix.

By far the best entry here is Val Kilmer’s return as Tom “Iceman” Kazansky. The story was written in a way to include his issues with speech, given his cancer diagnosis. He honestly has one of most memorable moments in the film, and I loved how they tied his character back to Maverick’s. I have to give some kudos to Cruise, Kilmer and company for that. If there’s any other reason to see the film other than the planes, that was it.

Oh, the flight and fight scenes! Goodness, what a treat! I usually sit in the front row, where no one ever sits. Since the Regal RPX screen is huge (but not Lincoln Center IMAX beastly), that first row is some distance away. The sense of speed was cool and there were some fantastic shots both in cockpit and out, which had me leaning in my seat with the action with every hard left and right. While I’ve always been more of a fan of the F-14 Tomcat used in the original, there is a legitimate reason for the team to have to use the F-18 Hornet. While the main mission feels a lot like the trench run from Star Wars: A New Hope, it’s a great sequence overall. Watching Maverick make a plane dance is a sight to behold, and there is at least one scene in the film that contained an awesome thrust vectoring moment. Think of thrust vectoring like drifting a plane in midair the way you would drift a car in a turn. It’s hard to describe, but beautiful when seen.

Musically, I don’t have much to say. While Lorne Balfe (Mission: Impossible – Fallout), Hans Zimmer (Dune), Harold Faltermeyer (Top Gun) and Lady Gaga (House of Gucci) all worked on this, I can’t say that any tune other than the original Top Gun Anthem really stood out for me. Not a terrible thing at all, just not extremely memorable. At least with Fallout, I was humming the 2nd half of “Stairs and Rooftops” until I bought the album. Gaga’s “Hold My Hand” is a great piece and ties in pretty well to where it’s used.

Overall, Top Gun: Maverick is a treat, and was better than I expected. It gets a little heavy handed at following the same path of the original, the but the new story is enjoyable enough to have it stand out on it own.

Ethan Hunt returns in the Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One Teaser!


Holy Cow! On Twitter, Christopher McQuarrie dropped the teaser trailer for Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning – Part One and there’s just so much to unpack here. Lorne Balfe reunites with McQuarrie on the score and I’m loving the piece that plays in this trailer. It looks like almost everyone from Mission: Impossible Fallout are back, and some new faces are present with Haley Atwell joining the fray. It’s also interesting to see Henry Czerny back in the mix. If the Fast and Furious movies have taught us anything, it’s that you can always find a use for a character you thought you shelved. Wow, it’s just a teaser, and it’s only Part One! I’m pretty excited for this.