In the irreverent spirit of fun that made The LEGO Movie a worldwide phenomenon, the self-described leading man of that ensemble – LEGO Batman – stars in his own big-screen adventure: The LEGO Batman Movie. But there are big changes brewing in Gotham, and if he wants to save the city from The Joker’s hostile takeover, Batman may have to drop the lone vigilante thing, try to work with others and maybe, just maybe, learn to lighten up. (synopsis via Comics Alliance)
Great is the bounty that San Diego Comic-Con bestows upon us.
Such as this new all-hilarious, all-deeply-serious, all-very-not-really trailer for The LEGO Batman Movie – it follows reveals of Robin and Joker earlier in the week – which like its box office-storming predecessor The LEGO Movie like its pop culture franchise with a fairly big dollop of satirical fun.
And they let loose with hilarious observations everything from Batman’s unhealthy nocturnal habits, his picking up of a young ward at a charity dinner, Alfred’s tough loving, and the dire lack of seatbelts in the Batmobile.
And what is with Robin’s predilection for socially-inappropriate pants-less superhero attire?
This film looks like being an absolute hoot when it comes out, as Comics Alliance observes, “the perfect antidote to the contemporary iterations of the character, like Zack Snyder and Ben Affleck’s Gritty Dark Knight 2.0.”
So if you like your troubled superheroes with more than a dash of silliness and satire, then this is the film for you.
So the big question as we are await the start of The Walking Dead season 7 in three months time is … Who shot JR?
Wait, wait, no … wrong decade and wrong show … BUT essentially the same dynamic – yes I have found a way to link Dallas and The Walking Dead; you can thank me later – applies as we wait breathlessly for the revelation of who was killed by Negan’s barbed wire-laced bat Lucille?
No one from The Walking dead cast or crew at Comic-Con was giving away too much at a recent panel– although we did get a glimpse of Ezekiel, Shiva and The Kingdom who help Alexandria stand up to Negan – and neither it appears are these just-released character posters that show 10 key characters frozen in their moment of nocturnal mortal peril as Negan ominously announced “I’m going to beat the holy hell out of one of you”.
Aliens huh? Nothing better to do it seems than spent eons crossing countless galaxy so they can invade Earth, enslave us and do with us as they will.
It’s happened time and time again, fictionally at least, and you couldn’t be blamed for wondering if there is anything really new left to say on this hypothetically nightmarish scenario.
It turns out that if you’re Carlton Cuse (LOST, The Strain) and co-creator Ryan Condal that there is plenty left to say and it’s good, very, very good.
Colony starts spinning its original dramatic tale quite a number of months after aliens, who are almost never glimpsed, have arrived on Earth, destroyed all of our military defenses in just eight hours – which includes killing all our soldiers and cops in a bloodbath of worldwide proportions – and set up proxy governments in colonies around the world, which means of course that there are enough people willing to roll over and play collaborator.
The series centres on the LA colony-based Bowman family, headed by ex-soldier and cop (something he keeps hidden for obvious reasons) Will (Josh Holloway), who ends up working for the aliens against his will to save his son Charlie whose lost over in the Santa Monica colony, and Katie (Sarah Wayne Callies) who’s working for the resistance – hello internal family conflict of interest! – and trying to protect their remaining kids Bram (Alex Neustaedter) and Gracie (Isabella Crovetti-Clamp).
Along with Katie’s sister Maddie (Amanda Righetti) and her son, they’re doing their best to navigate a wholly different world to the one that existed less than a year before, one marked by genocide, authoritarianism, brutal political machinations and a tense struggle between those who want to fight their occupation with everything at their disposal and those happy to cave in and salute the new order.
Being in this kind of poisonous environment where the line between surviving and not surviving is wafer thin takes its toll and by the end of season 1 (SPOILERS!!!), which I rated very highly, Will knew what Katie was doing and was headed surreptitiously into Santa Monica colony to find Charlie, Katie was left all alone, resistance-inclined Bram has been captured by the occupiers and Maddie, her son and Gracie were in the Green Zone where the collaborators live in cosseted luxury.
Naturally being a finely-told, nuanced drama with great insight and intelligence things are only going to get worse for the Bowman family and Earth as a whole in season 2, which promises to reveal far more of what’s happening around the world, according to a Hollywood Reporter interview with Cuse.
While no air date has been officially released for season 2, things are only going to get darker in this wholly original take on alien invasion.
Picturing the crew of the USS Enterprise sitting around bored out of their 23rd century skulls may not the first thing that springs to mind when you hear the words “To boldly go where no one has gone before” but if we are to believe Kirk (Chris Pine) at the start of Star Trek Beyond, that is exactly the state of mind that grips everyone almost three years into their five year mission.
Yes it seems even gallivanting, womanising Star Trek captains can have a bad day or year on the job, especially when all the glamorous first contact moments or exhilarating space battles only happen once in an ill-mapped nebula,
It’s a clever move by scriptwriters Simon Pegg, who plays Scotty, and Doug Jung, to humanise the crew of the Enterprise precisely because it makes them all the more relatable, and invests the inevitable action that follows Kirk’s ennui-laden observation with a sense that this isn’t happening every day of the week.
The attacks by the villainous Krall (Idris Elba) and his deadly swarm ships that move like demented bees on a dementedly cruel but precisely choreographed trajectory, are nothing like business as usual, and by admitting as much, Pegg energises what could simply be seen as yet another battle for the universe.
In fact, this kind of thing is a rarity – thank goodness for that since if it was a standard part of the Federation’s day, it would never have made it out of Earth’s home galaxy – and the business of joining together disparate, fascinating world’s is pretty dull diplomatic fare.
Which is fine if you’re a diplomat or a vice-admiral, a position that Kirk is eyeing off as the film opens, but no so much if you’re a captain wanting adventure and excitement.
But as Kirk learns throughout the film, a little bit of boredom here and there is a small price to pay for freedom and peace; because the alternative, the rampant militaristic chaos wanted by the likes of Krall and his naturally obsequious minions, is wantonly and pointlessly destructive and does little to promote or extend civilisation.
But before that sage lesson can be learned and bonds such as those between Kirk and his second-in-command Spock (Zachary Quinto) can be further cemented, there is a great and mighty full speed ahead narrative to negotiate.
Far from being some sort of vacuous spaceship chase however, which the first Star Trek Beyond trailer gave every impression of the film being – no surprise since Justin Lin is a The Fast and the Furious franchise alum – the third instalment in the re-imagined, Kelvin Timeline-occupying original Trek franchise is an emotionally-resident, relationship rich race to save the galaxy.
On paper, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before.
Villain seemingly comes out of nowhere (this would be Krall), ambushes the Enterprise and trashes the ship to the point where abandoning it is the only course left to take, tortures and attacks the separated crew on his rocky home planet – bar of course Kirk, Chekhov (the much lamented late Anton Yelchin, one of two people, along with Leonard Nimoy), Spock, Scotty and McCoy (Karl Urban) on the loose; Uhura (Zoe Zeldana) is left to defiantly argue the case with their captor until such time as the rest of the officer corps, along with new feisty, more than capable new ally Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) come to save the day (come on, you knew that would happen!).
The thing is that it’s executed with so much foot-to-the-floor nonstop vigour that you excuse some of the been-there, done-that plot points.
But what really elevates the narrative, which restores the fun, if not the philosophical heart back to these movies, is the emphasis on the close bonds that exist between the crew.
Each of the crew demonstrate time and again how close they are to each other; not in some weird codependent, Hallmark movie of the week kind of way, but in a real world I-love-you-then-you-drive-me-nuts-then-I-love-you-again kind of way.
It lends a palpable emotional resonance to proceedings with the actions set pieces – there are motorcycles, gripping battles, spaceship jumpstarting themselves off cliffs! – not simply emotionally-empty filler.
Because every single moment of the action means something, because getting to those points involves the crew giving their heart and soul to each other and the endeavour – again not without some wisecracks and words of good natured irritation – it’s not simply action for action’s sake.
True Krall is rather thinly written and his reason for being the Big Bad du Jour rather limited and threadbare but then he is simply the means to an end – to remind that is Kirk’s Enterprise dammit and that these people, through boredom and chaotic action matter greatly to each other.
And it’s witnessing that that invests Star Trek Beyond with so much emotional gravitas and humanity.
Of course if you’re an avid Star Trek fan, you will appreciate how precious these bonds are more than most, but anyone with a beating heart will appreciate that there is nothing you won’t do for those you love and care about.
And that reality is, when you think about it, what has made Star Trek, particularly the original series, such a meaningful, irresistible piece of television, and now film franchise.
Yes the universe may get threatened and villains like Krall may try to destroy the Federation which gives us wonders like the Yorktown Starbase, which is rendered in dazzlingly futuristic glory, and only Kirk and the gang can see them off, but fun though it is to watch good triumph over evil, the reason we watch is to see people we love with people they love doing something that matters to them.
Good though the narrative is in this instance, it is merely the vehicle to effect the relational interplay that is at the heart of the Star Trek franchise, along with the idealistic viewpoints, and to which Pegg and Jung, ably helped by Lin’s directorial eye, sensibly return the movie series.
This is the film that will make you enjoy Star Trek all over again – granted it’s a little light on overt moralising but then that could be a major turnoff at times since it sounded often like an overly-earnest priestly homily – that sensibly weaves Roddenberry’s inspiring vision of the future into the narrative so tightly that coming out and remarking on things simply isn’t necessary.
It is, in the end, a rev ’em up, action thriller in space, but that’s not a bad thing when it’s invested with so much insightful and emotionally-resonant understanding of what it is that drives people to lay their lives on the line in the first place.
Yes I know I am supposed to say “golden age” and yes it is in many ways, but when your cable PVR and Netflix (and in Australia) Stan are crying out for viewing attention to the point where you almost need to take a year off just to catch up on all the outstanding episodes, I’d say glut is way more accurate.
On the plus side, it means that there are way more really great or promising shows circulating and way more chance to someone with an quirky, extraordinary vision to get their show made.
So behold three shows with premises that may sound a little kooky but which, judging by the trailers at least, look like they have a real chance of working.
And yep, ensuring we never leave the house again … order me a large pizza will ya?
The series centers on a risk-averse quality-control assessor (Tori Anderson), who falls in love with a freewheeling man (Joshua Sasse) who lives life to the fullest because he believes the apocalypse is imminent. They embark on a quest together to fulfill their individual bucket lists, with comedic and poignant results. (synopsis via Slash Film)
So here’s the thing – you’re an over-anxious person with a trainwreck of a career, weirdly unsupportive friends and a fear of Listeria affecting Ruderbager potatoes and by chance you meet the man of your dreams at a market one day.
What do you do?
Well if you’re most people, you’d embrace this once-in-a-lifetime slice of magical kismet, carpe diem the hell out of the romantic opportunity and don’t look back.
But then you wouldn’t be Evie, a woman so afraid of life she second guesses her second guesses.
But fate intervenes, she gets to know Xavier (with an “X”) and he’s everything she could hope for … until he tells the world is ending in just over eight months – damn asteroids! – and she needs to prepare.
Uh-oh … but then things look up when he inspires her to start ticking items off her bucket list – OK first she has to come up with a bucket list! Yeah she’s not been that forward looking to be fair – which transforms her life in ways she never expected.
Channeling the same kind of sweetly quirky but meaningful energy that is the hallmark of Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, No Tomorrow looks like another beautifully-written touchingly substantial show for the CW which has shown a real penchant for these types of TV series.
This looks like one show you should be adding to your viewing bucket list, imminent death by asteroid notwithstanding.
No Tomorrow premieres on CW in the northern autumn this year.
Based on the web series of the same name, Downward Dog is about a struggling millennial, Nan (“Fargo’s” Allison Tolman), from the point of view of her lonely and philosophical dog, Martin. One session at obedience school already makes them realize that even at their worst, they may be the best thing for each other. The series stars Tolman, Lucas Neff as Jason, Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Jenn, Barry Rothbart as Kevin and Mo Collins as Kim. (synopsis via Variety)
Yeah I hear ya – a show about a woman who feels like life has left her behind and her neurotic, disillusioned dog who talks doesn’t exactly make you think quirky clever TV.
But watch the trailer and tell me that it doesn’t go way deeper and feel way more poignant and emotionally resonant that you might have expected.
There is innately touching about the way this web series-turned-network series, which came from an idea by Michael Killen, the co-founder of VFX outfit Animals who gave the world the Taco Bell chihuahua, who over time worked his idea into something markedly different from just another tired riff on Look Who’s Talking, about the way this show looks at life.
You can’t help but laugh at Martin’s wry observations and his totally erroneous ideas about what Nan does with her day, and to empathise with how much he loves his owner who try as she might can’t quite get life humming along in the fast land of success.
And be moved by how much Nan needs Martin whether she’s fully appreciative of that all the time.
At the end the show, which shoots in Pittsburgh is about belonging and how that’s the most wonderful thing any of us can have.
Oh and a non-emotionally terroristic cat … yeah that’s good too.
Detective Raimy Sullivan (Peyton List) has always wanted to prove that she is nothing like her father. In 1996, when Raimy was eight years old, NYPD Officer Frank Sullivan (Riley Smith) left Raimy and her mother, Julie (Devin Kelley), behind when he went deep undercover, got corrupted, and got himself killed. Or so the story has always gone. Few people knew about the secret undercover sting operation Frank was really charged with, led by Stan Moreno (Anthony Ruivivar), who has now risen to Deputy Chief of Police. Frank’s former partner, Lieutenant Satch Reyna (Mekhi Phifer), is now Raimy’s mentor and friend, and he has urged her to let go of the hurt and anger she still feels about Frank’s disappearance and death, but the old pain still lingers. Raimy can barely bring herself to discuss Frank, even with her devoted boyfriend, Daniel (Daniel Bonjour), or her childhood friend, Gordo (Lenny Jacobson). Now, twenty years later, Raimy is stunned when a voice suddenly crackles through her father’s old, long-broken ham radio – it’s Frank, somehow transmitting over the airwaves and through the decades from 1996. They’re both shocked and confused, but Raimy shakes Frank to the core when she warns him that the secret sting he is undertaking will lead to his death. Armed with that knowledge, Frank survives the attempt on his life. But changing history has dramatically affected Raimy’s life in the present – and there have been tragic consequences. Separated by twenty years, father and daughter have reunited on a frequency only they can hear, but can they rewrite the story of their lives without risking everyone they love? (synopsis via Screenrant)
Who among us hasn’t longed to go back and changed some part of our lives, particularly a traumatic or sad episode that despite our best efforts continues to case a shadow over our lives?
Frequency (2000) which starred Jim Caviezel and Dennis Quaid as a father and son who find each other in the most mysterious of circumstances and find expected resolution and healing, spoke to that often unmet need to tie up those loose ends, to fix the often unfixable.
And now, as part of a trend running rampant to varying degrees of success in the TV industry, it is being revived as a TV series but this time with an estranged father/daughter combo that takes as it’s central idea the idea of reconnecting when the possibility of that had been stymied by forces beyond anyone’s control.
The series comes with a sting in the tail though thats the movie didn’t fully explore – what happens if resolution in area of undealt with pain causes another hitherto whole part of your life to be negatively, almost disastrously affected?
Yes happy endings are enticing and we all want them but how much of a price are we prepared to pay to get them?
Granted it’s winter in Australia but such are our mild temps at the moment – it was 25 degrees Celsius in Sydney yesterday just to give you some idea of how un-Siberia-like things are at the moment! – that these wonderful suggestions from Instagram account Ice Cream Books can be put in play right now.
No need to wait for summer!
Of course if you’re in the northern hemisphere then have it since your days of beaches, ice cream and lazy reads are well and truly underway!
Where this imaginative account excels is its inspired combination of ice cream and books in the one action, a clever pairing that has a lot of thought behind it as the anonymous creators told Mashable:
“Each pairing has some sort of connection, some more direct than others. For example: Gerrard Conley’s Boy Erased, a memoir about surviving a conversion therapy program that promised to ‘cure’ him of homosexuality, is paired with a cone of ‘Salty Pimp,’ from New York’s Big Gay Ice Cream Shop; Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies, a novel of a marriage told from two perspectives, is paired with a banana split; and Errol Morris’ Believing Is Seeing: Observations on the Mysteries of Photography is paired with two scoops, one Mint Chocolate Chip and one Pistachio.”
So yummy and thoughtful! What’s not to like? Go forth and dessert your books people!
Sporting what Bit Candy calls “triumphant horns and bombastic drums”, “Out of Love” from Strong Asian Mothers (cool band name of the week!) is all brooding melody, with all the punch and presence you could ask for in an emotionally-resonance piece of electronic pop.
Hailing from London, the band members Amer, Kalim and Josh have been friends from childhood and making music together for almost as long.
All that hard musical work growing up has paid off bigtime for the talented threesome who has crafted music that they describe as a blend of Hip Hip and Trap with Pop.
It is eminently listenable music that dares to you to ignore it; emotive, commanding and rich with lyrical meaning, “Out of Love” underlines why this band, who have acquired a deserved reputation for brilliantly good live performances, are a band to watch.
An artist who clearly respects the need for capitalised letters to have their own personal space, L U M E N, who calls Aintree, Liverpool home has a knack for crafting airy, light pop that sounds incredibly intimate and yet removed all at once.
Asking one of the most pertinent questions any of us can ask ourselves, especially those on the cusp of good things like he is, “What Will Life Make of You?” is the perfect summer anthem when the removal from day to day drudgery gives you a chance to not only chill but the time to think about Big Things.
This is the perfect music to ponder expansive life issues with all throbbing guitars and insistent beats that carry you along on a wave of idle musing, made all the more impressive by the fact that the artist is just 17.
For someone essentially starting out, he’s reflective of a lot of very cool influences as Killing Moon points out:
” … you’ve got the quirky digitalism take on indie music that you get with like likes of Postal Service, Daniel Wilson and St. Lenox; one the other, a clear stab at the poppier end of the spectrum, re your Bombay Bicycle Clubs, The Drums, The Cure. So some seriously good shit spread in a pleasantly non-suspecting and unassuming way.”
It’s everything you could ask for – great music that makes you think by a man who’s clearly got a lot of great music (and thinking) ahead of him.
This is richly atmospheric music, with melodic lushness spreading languorously throughout “Everything Beta”, a song which finds its identity partly in the ethereal but emotionally powerful vocals of Trewin Howard.
Along with fellow members of the Brighton, England-based five piece band – Seryn Burden, Tim Douglas, Jeb Hardwick, Ed Sanderson – he has crafted a song that dazzles and shimmers, swoops and weaves itself into your soul.
This is beautifully muscular music that retains an ephemeral shimmer throughout while building and building in powerful, gloriously-evocative intensity.
It is well nigh impossible not to be moved or changed by “Everything Beta” and the band’s earlier hit “Evolve” which bring together acoustic warmth and edgy electronica as The Line of Best Fit notes.
This is music to sink deep into and frankly if you were to never emerge again, would that be such a bad thing?
Even with its trippy, blippy sound and edgy sensibility, Molly Moore’s song “Easy” is richly warm and affecting.
Much of that is due to the beautifully moving vocals of the Los Angeles, California singer and songwriter whose love of pop is on full display on this atmospherically-transcendent track.
“I loved pop music so much,” she says. “As soon as I figured out big songs on the radio were written by songwriters, I became obsessed with who wrote what and wanting to write for other people.” (source: mollymooreofficial.com)
You can help but notice her influences – her father who is a working musician and her mother who sings for the love of it and a musical diet that included everything from John Mayer to Britney Spears and even Art & Garfunkel – in “Easy” which while deliciously cutting edge still speaks to the heart with the warmth and soul of a good friend.
This is music of the future that clearly values the past that has informed it so much.
Featuring the magnificently-nuanced vocals of Daniel Johns, electronic duo have crafted a song in “Open Fire” that is all jittery melody and beats but utterly beautifully, movingly immersive.
It’s a cutting-edge sound sure but still redolent with lots of humanity and warmth, reflecting the fact that the best electronica out there remembers that its heart it needs to tell a story and reflected the soul of those who make it and listen to it.
And I can’t help but agree with Music Feeds that this is music that should go on and on and …
“It is beautifully produced, brimming with deliciously rich synths and pulsating fat beatsy bass breakdowns. Johns’ lusciously layered vocals hit you right where it hurts, but damn, it feels good. The grunge turned R&B ex-Silverchair singer features perfectly in this setting, following up from his particularly impressive 2015 solo release. This is one of those tracks that just ends way too soon.”
Given how fruitful this collaboration has been, we can only hope it is but one song of many to come.
NOW THIS IS EXTRA EXTRA!
If you have ever wondered what a 1000 year old song repertory sounds like, wonder no more.
According to Gizmodo, the music was a common example of the type of musical entertainment available at the time:
“It’s called “Songs of Consolation,” and it was a medieval musical retelling of Roman philosopher Boethius’s magnum opus, The Consolation of Philosophy. Back then it was common practice to take classic works, such as those written by Horace and Virgil, and assign a melody to the texts. This was done to learn and ritualize the texts, which often consisted of love songs and laments.”
There’s a new Star Trek movie in cinemas, Star Trek Beyond and with a bold new theme song by Rihanna called “Sledgehammer”.
And yes there’s also an amazingly funny new Ghostbusters movie from Paul Feig which also has a theme song by Fall Out Boy and Missy Elliott, which is good but not great.
Better is this Japanese take on the old 1984 theme song by Ray Park Jr. which is suitably kooky, quirky and brilliantly catchy and features 4 Japanese comedians (Tomochika, Oniyakko Tsubaki, Naomi Watanabe and Shizuyo Yamasaki
It is a rare moment indeed when considering the merits of a rebooted film in a much-loved franchise such as Ghostbusters than you can say with complete confidence and not a small amount of happiness that the re-imagined product is every bit a match for the original, if not in some ways its superior.
It’s a bold claim for any rebooted film property, but even more so in the case of Paul Feig’s all-female take on the famous comedically-inclined fighters of the supernatural, which attracted a firestorm of controversy as disaffected fanboys took to social media to viciously attack anyone attached to the project and predict the film’s inevitable demise.
But the thing is that the all-new Ghostbusters, starring a who’s who of zeitgeist-occupying female comic talent, is not a failure of any kind; rather it is a triumphant success, paying homage to its much-venerated predecessor without sacrificing its own rich, warm, extremely funny and intelligently-realised vision in the process.
It is most definitely a movie for the here-and-now, not simply in its use of cutting edge special effects that grant the spectres, ghosts and vaporous apparitions including some well-known faces such as Slimer (voice by Adam Ray) and the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, a real, ahem, life of their own, but in its perfectly-placed references to current events, social practices and pop culture influences.
There are ’80s references of course, how could there not be, including judiciously-used songs that lend the wellrounded soundtrack a pleasingly appropriate retro edge, but by and large this is a 21st century creation, as happy to be goofy and playful as it is post-modern whimsical and observant of socially progressive attitudes.
The biggest change of course, and the one that ignited all the needless controversy, is the gender of the Ghostbusters themselves.
The original cohort of Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson, all of whom make cameos (along with Annie Potts and a few memorable phrases) save obviously for Ramis who passed away in 2014, are now represented with aplomb by Melissa McCarthy as Abby Yates, Kristen Wiig as Erin Gilbert, Leslie Jones as Patty Tolan and Kate McKinnon, whose gloriously manic energy steals every scene she’s in, as inventor extraordinaire Jillian Holtzmann.
They’re an all new team in many ways, not least the obvious one, and bring the franchise to life with their own comic wisecracking, gift for lively characterisation and penchant for inspired, scene-chewing improv.
All of which means that even though the film nods its creative hat to the iconography of the 1984 original with everything from the ghosts themselves, to the cars and uniforms and the Ghost Mobile and the fire house HQ, it is very much its own fresh, boundlessly funny creation, unhampered by the luggage of a franchise which has cast a long shadow over the last 32 years.
And that is a feat in itself.
You can imagine Feig and co-writer Katie Dippold sitting down and planning out the storyline, all too painfully aware, thanks to the virulently nasty campaign waged against the film even up to opening day when one of the stars Leslie Jones was the target of some truly racist trolling on Twitter, that expectations for the reboot were stratospherically high and abysmally low simultaneously.
While it is impossible to know how much this affected the manner in which they wrote the film, beyond some sly jabs at the online controversy in a few of the scenes, it doesn’t appear to have affected things overly with the film seemingly un-selfconsciously sauntering forth into a partly hostile pop culture firmament.
Ghostbusters quite simply has fun with itself, letting the chips fall where they may, anchored by a strong cohesive narrative that beautifully sets the whole ghostly chain of events in tension-building motion by making the villain of the piece a hugely disaffected victim of lifelong bullying, Rowan North (Neil Casey) who decides the perfect revenge on humanity is releasing all the angry, murderous disaffected spiritual entities he can lay his hands on from the Other Side into our time and space.
So yes no Zuul this time around but the forces that emerge through the portals he creates one by one along the energy lines of New York City are initially more than a match for the Ghostbusters, who face much of the same public scepticism and disapproval of their ’80s predecessors.
Unswayed by this, however, and determined to see their belief in the ghostly supernatural vindicated and then when proven throughout the film, subdued, the all-new Ghostbusters, who resist using the term at first until the media chooses it as their moniker for them, set about saving New York City from forces way beyond its considerable, chutzpah-laden control.
The climactic fight scene alone is epic as a result, and, not suprisingly, humourous into the bargain with wisecracks and quips aplenty even as the four women, and their deluded himbo assistant Kevin played with comic joy by Chris Hemsworth, have to face down an army of spiritual nasties, none of whom are in the mood to play nice, or engage with witticism trading with their nemeses.
Which is fine because with this array of comedic talent onboard, why waste valuable time giving the undead too much of a voice?
Melissa McCarthy is uncharacteristically subdued, playing more of a straightwoman role than her normal deliciously over the top persona which suits the team interplay and narrative to a tee while Kristen Wiig channels her ability to be a shy, wallflower-esque character who gradually comes back alive, her passion for the supernatural rediscovered after years spent climbing the ladder of academia at Columbia University, to perfection, reminding us once again of her impressive ability to tilt between comic and dramatic roles with ease.
Rounding out the ghoul-chasing posse is manically mad Jillian played with gusto by Kate McKinnon whose glee in her inventive powers is palpable, its breadth and vision only matched by her social awkwardness which is often countered by rapidfire, high-volume deliveries; in contrast Patty, given earthy, soulful life by the incomparable Leslie Jones, is a subway worker/New York geographical savant with more joyful attitude than any ghost can handle (although she is sensibly as scared as you or I would be when it’s warranted).
Together these remarkable characters, and the talented women who bring them to life invest Ghostbusters with the sort of passion, humour and love of their calling that matches the original zeal of the original all-male team.
Armed with a stellar cast, a zippy but fulsome screenplay that paces itself beautifully, world-building par excellence and enough witty retorts and humourous observations to keep a stand up comedy in ego-massaging applause for a lifetime, Ghostbusters is that rare beast – a reboot that not only honours its predecessor but builds on it with its own rich, utterly engaging, fun-filled sense of self.
Anyone who is thinking of rebooting, re-imagining or re-whatevering a franchise, and this being Hollywood you are likely queued down the block for eternity, should play close attention to what Paul Feig and four talented woman have pulled off here and take it as inspiration that it is possible to make something new and wholly, wonderfully and delightfullyoriginal while standing on the shoulders of that which came so brilliantly before.
*SPOILERS AHEAD … AND GUNSHOTS, MISTIMED TEENAGE PASSION AND A FEMALE ABBIE WITH MORE STREET SMARTS THAN YOUR THE AVERAGE BEAR*
Let’s hear it for the new Wayward Pines cardio programme!
With life in the prettiest apocalypse ever – make no mistake, old-fashioned US town notwithstanding, that humanity has had its apocalypse, one largely unseen by its current rump surviving population (save for poor old “I’ve seen too much CJ, played by Djimon Hounsou) – largely a sedentary affair, Jason (Tom Stevens), voted Leader Most Likely to Never Deviate From Policies That Will Get Us All Killed four years in a row, decided it was high time that everyone got out for a good old jog around the time.
Or cowered in their homes. You know, same same.
Seriously though, and trust me things are getting way more serious with every passing nanosecond as Abbies without number mass outside the fence with thoughts uncharitable to humanity on their collective consciousness, good old Margaret, female Abbie extraordinaire, fresh from killing Megan (Hope Davis), went on the run through the town.
In a strategy that initially resembled the Scarlet Pimpernel – “They sought her here, they sought her there, they sought the psychic Abbie leader everywhere!” – she leapt from building to building, ducked and weaved, stared up at idiot teenage lovers making out in the woods and finally, with humanity STILL shooting at her, raced under the fence via an old system of pipes that, whoops!, no one save for Rebecca (Nimrat Kaur) remembered were there.
So mystery solved about her ability to zip in and out of the bright, shiny new town that had been built on the ruins of her own, colonial occupying power-like.
While all this running was undoubtedly good for most peoples’ constitutions, it didn’t do very much for one poor anonymous soldier who still had his doting wife’s “Now you be careful out there” encouragement ringing in his ears when Margaret grabbed him, ripped him limb from Homo Sapiens limb and used his blood to create a fall trail through the town that Theo Yedlin (Jason Patric) and Adam Hassler (Tim Griffin) followed until they realised there wasn’t much point anymore.
While they were chasing literal red herrings – granted there were no fish but there was a lot of red otherwise – Margaret had the rest of the town locked behind shop doors and cowering in designer homes, save for Rebecca who, surprise surprise!, was pregnant.
To Xander (Josh Helman), her Wayward Pines hubbie. Not Theo. Xander. Once again Xander. Who she kissed. Yup, that should be one calm subsequent discussion with Theo who as we know handles everything with brooding simmering unhappiness.
But that conversation would have to wait.
For as the minutes ticked by and Margaret flashed by in a blur here, there and everywhere, leaving humanity shooting at each other – in so doing revealing deep resentments about being there at all, proof that Pilcher (Toby Jones) old “Kidnap them and they’ll thank you later” recruitment approach was a bust – it became increasingly apparent that humanity was outclassed, and outgunned.
Not literally naturally but in terms of street smarts and survival skills with the Abbies, and Margaret in particular, getting the cumulative gold star, blue ribbon and shiny Oscar statuette trophy for winning Darwin’s still active survival of the fittest race.
Any discussions about humanity having it all together became moot as the Abbies, proved time and again that they weren’t some accidental anomaly, or that if it purely genetic terms that is what they are, that they’d transcended it and had truly inherited the Earth.
Theo knew it. Hassler knew it and good old CJ and Kerry (Kacey Rohl) whose Abbie-initiated injuries left her unable to play everyone’s favourite Wayward Pines game of “Let’s Get Pregnant!” – her conversation with Jason to that effect seem to go Hallmark Channel “I love you … no, I LOVE YOU” well, on the surface at least – knew it.
Only good old “But Pilcher said … wait he said … no really he did” Jason, still fond of the fascist-era military uniform and some pithy meaningless slabs of “reassuring propaganda” still seemed to be clinging to the idea that humanity could triumph by their old tactics of shoot and ask absolutely no questions later.
The episode, which moved at a fairly frenetic pace, and included Margaret and a pregnant Rebecca coming face to face and sharing an “understanding” until Xander shot at the Abbie’s smart-as-a-cookie leader, leading to the, ahem, KISS, was another instructional lesson in rump humanity’s inability to realise that evolution had left their party and thrown its lot in with the Abbies.
Granted humanity had pretty buildings, ice cream and beauty treatments but the Abbies, contrary to what Pilcher and his gang of Kool-Aid drinking acolytes believed, had community, the ability to learn – well the females anyway; the men were not that bright to be fair – and numbers, oh my god they had numbers.
And as it became increasingly clear they wouldn’t be shy using them, Jason took Kerry to his personal panic room where Adam and Eve could wait out the looming Abbie-ocalypse, his bright, excited “screw everyone else!” smile dimming considerably when Kerry revealed that she wasn’t going to recreating anyone’s race, thank you very much.
The reality is that sparely-decorated panic rooms aside – which leads to the observation that why didn’t Pilcher with all his money and resources better equip the freaking town with, you know, everything? Food, books, curtains? – is that humanity neck is well and truly on the fateful chopping block and with Theo, Hassler etc still lone voices crying in the wilderness, it doesn’t look like anyone with authority will act in time to avert coming catastrophe.
And frankly with people like Jason reasserting a stupidly boneheaded divine right to rule at every turn, you can help but will the Abbies to win, since Homo Sapiens aren’t exactly winning the PR campaign and look unlikely to do soon anytime soon.
*So have we turned the corner? Are there brighter days ahead for humanity? Will humans and Abbies gather around the campfire for a rousing rendition of “Kumbayah”? Have you been paying attention? Next week’s episode “Walcott Prep” simply reconfirms that it’s going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better … ah who are we kidding? Better schmetter!
Short of camping out in the movie theatre for weeks at a time, a fun idea that unfortunately comes with some real hygiene and livability issues, you need to take a good hard look at trailers for upcoming movies and work out which ones deserve an in-cinema viewing and which should be streamed at home.
Behold the first in a revived series of Mass of Movie Trailers which give you five trailers at a time, a synopsis and a brief overview so you can decide which movie delights tickle your fancy.
Let the reels unspool …
In “Quitters,” the young Clark (Ben Konigsberg) is a smart-aleck San Francisco teen who thinks he can outsmart the entire world, but his home life is a mess. His mother (Mira Sorvino) has a prescription pill addiction that lands her in rehab, and Clark doesn’t have much of a relationship with his impatient father (Gregg Germann).
So what does he do? He decides to find a new family, specifically the family of an attractive classmate Natalia (Morgan Turner) who lets Clark temporarily move in as a houseguest. When conflict inevitably arises, it’s up to Clark to face up to the reality of his situation. (synopsis via Ace Showbiz)
Growing up isn’t the easiest of undertakings even when you have a supportive mother and father and a relatively normal home environment.
Clark doesn’t have any of those things complicating the whole process by an unimaginable factor but as he discovers what look like an easy solution isn’t always the most straightforward or what’s best for you.
Quitters premiered at the 2015 SXSW Film Festival where it was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize and looks every bit the smart, fresh, witty and insightful take on the dramas of finding your way in the world with a dysfunctional family pulling you down at every turn.
Quitters opens 22 July in USA.
I Am Not a Serial Killer
In a small Midwestern town, a troubled teen with homicidal tendencies must hunt down and destroy a supernatural killer whilst keeping his own inner demons at bay. I Am Not a Serial Killer is directed by British filmmaker Billy O’Brien, of the films Scintilla, Ferocious Planet and Isolation previously. The screenplay is by Christopher Hyde and Billy O’Brien, based on the novel by Dan Wells. (synopsis via First Showing)
With the soul of Dexter, but a look and feel all its own, I Am Not a Serial Killer is a case of potential like tracking down like, a dark and quirky indie film about justice perhaps being best wrought by those who know the evil they fight.
In this case, the evil is a real presence within and without making this narrative more than a little bit personal and all the more affecting as a result.
I Am Not a Serial Killer opens in Canada on 2 August and in limited release and via internet in USA 26 August.
Five Nights in Maine
A young African American man, reeling from the tragic loss of his wife, travels to rural Maine to seek answers from his estranged mother-in-law, who is herself confronting guilt and grief over her daughter’s death. Five Nights in Maine is both written & directed by Maris Curran, making her feature directorial debut with this film. (synopsis via First Showing)
It’s natural when the dead hand of grief falls upon you to try and figure why this great calamity has befallen you.
Granted grief has no obvious discernible whys and wherefores, and just heartbreakingly is, an unfathomable world of loss and mourning that fights for explanation but often simply has to weather the passage of time.
Five Nights in Maine takes us into that unknowable place and asks if there is any way to really understand what has happened or whether we simply have to accept it and do our best, however hard, to move on.
Five Nights in Maine opens 5 August in theatres and VOD.
Ex-maid of honor Eloise – having been relieved of her duties after being unceremoniously dumped by the best man via text- decides to attend the wedding anyway only to find herself seated with 5 “random” guests at the dreaded Table 19. Table 19 is directed by American filmmaker Jeffrey Blitz, of the film Rocket Science and the documentaries Lucky and Spellbound previously, as well as work on The Office. (synopsis via First Showing)
There is no greater social misadventure than finding yourself at the wedding of someone you barely know, or worse, finding yourself at the wedding of someone you once knew all too well, who has consigned you to the Siberia of tables, the one where all the leftover people with no tangible place to belong are placed.
It can be an ordeal but cheek-by-jowl oddballness but sometimes you can be surprised by the bonds you forge which looks to be the case with Table 19 where appearance may be deceiving and you may have unwittingly been handed the tools with which to refashion your currently ailing life.
Table 19 opens 20 January 2017.
A Monster Calls
A visually spectacular drama from acclaimed director Juan Antonio Bayona (The Impossible), based on the award-winning children’s fantasy novel. 12-year-old Conor (Lewis MacDougall) attempts to deal with his mother’s (Felicity Jones) illness and the bullying of his classmates by escaping into a fantastical world of monsters and fairy tales that explore courage, loss, and faith. (synopsis via Coming Soon)
Dealing with the twin evils of grief and bullying would be a tall order for anyone but all the ore so for a 12 year old overwhelmed by forces so great that there likely seems no way through or around them.
Based on the novel by Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls lends a fantastical element to this titanic struggle to find some accommodation with reality, an unforgiving beast that likely can only truly be dealt with by some equally as powerful in return.
This looks to be wholly effecting and poignant, a film that seems like a grim dark fairytale but is as real as you can get.
A Monster Calls opens 21 October in USA and 1 December in Australia.