Review: CHIPS

Starring Dax Shepard and Michael Pena

Review: Life

Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, and Ryan Reynolds

Review: Power Rangers

An Enjoyable Reboot That May Divide Fans

Review: Danny Boyle's T2 Trainspotting

Starring Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle, Ewen Bremner, and Jonny Lee Miller

Review: Terrence Malick's Song to Song

Starring Rooney Mara, Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender, and Natalie Portman

3/26/2017

Box Office: 'Beauty & The Beast' Rules Again, But 'Power Rangers' Shows Its Might


1. Beauty and the Beast- $88.3M/$316.9M
With a number of high-profile new releases, there might have been some thought Disney's Beauty and the Beast would falter, but not so. The live-action remake decided to be its own guest at the top of the charts with an amazing $88M, bringing its domestic total to $316M and worldwide haul to $690M.  There's a chance the next couple of weeks of family-friendly offerings will take a toll, but the sky is the limit right now, and may be why Disney is looking for ways to extend the brand.
2. Power Rangers (review)- $40.5M
It was tough to gauge just how much genuine excitement there was for the rebooted Power Rangers, but apparently there was enough for a $40.5M opening weekend, and $59M worldwide. The film, which brings a darker, coming-of-age vibe to the campy TV series, got the $110M production off to a strong start, especially when you consider there are no big names involved. Elizabeth Banks or Bryan Cranston are the most recognizable, and their roles are secondary. Whether this turns into the 6-movie franchise Saban and Lionsgate are eager for will depend on how it does in the coming weeks against some stiff competition.
3. Kong: Skull Island- $14.4M/$133.5M
4. Life (review)- $12.6M
Ironically, the star-powered sci-fi film Life couldn't find any at the box office. The $58M alien horror, which stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, and Ryan Reynolds, opened with just $12M. It'll have to hope for a big response overseas to break even. I'm actually surprised Sony didn't make more of the reunion between Reynolds and Deadpool writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. It couldn't have hurt, right?
5. Logan- $10.1M/$201.4M
6. Get Out- $8.6M/$147.4M
7. CHIPS (review)- $7.6M
Anybody could have told you CHIPS was going to be a disaster. The '70s/'80s cop show it's based on is no 21 Jump Street; Dax Shepard starring and directing is quite inexplicable; and every single piece of footage looked awful. That $7.6M opening won't crack a dent in the $25M budget since nobody is going to flock to CHIPS next week, or the week after. It'll be in the process of hitting the DVD bin after that, which is where Warner Bros. will have to hope to make up the difference.
8. The Shack- $3.7M/$49M
9. The LEGO Batman Movie- $1.9M/$170.8M
10. The Belko Experiment- $1.8M/$7.5M

Han Solo Spinoff Adds 'Sing Street' Actor Ian Kenny


Details keep trickling in about the Star Wars spinoff starring Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo, a younger version of Solo. Woody Harrelson keeps chatting about it, and gave us the name of his mentor character, and we also learned what crucial moments in Solo's life will be explored. And now today the film has gained a new cast member.

Sing Street actor Ian Kenny has joined the film in an unspecified role. Hopefully he'll get a chance to play some kind of nemesis to Solo, because Kenny was great as Barry, the bully in John Carney's rousing Irish musical.  He joins Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Woody Harrelson, Michael K. Williams, and Emilia Clarke, with Phil Lord and Chris Miller directing.

Production is underway on the film that will hopefully get an official title soon. It already has a May 25th 2018 release date. [Variety]

'Escape From New York' Remake Lands Robert Rodriguez As Director


A remake of John Carpenter's cult classic Escape from New York has been high on Hollywood's hit list for a long time, with various studios giving it a shot. 20th Century Fox won the rights back in 2015 and they finally seem ready to get moving on it, with Sin City and Machete's Robert Rodriguez in talks to direct.

Fox and Rodriguez have history, as he's currently developing their Alita: Battle Angel movie. He and Carpenter also have a strong working relationship from their collaborations on Rodriguez's El Rey Network. Carpenter will exec-produce the remake and have a hand in developing its tone, possibly even working with writer Neil Cross. Rodriguez seems like a good choice. Looking at the action and grindhouse movies he's so frequently gravitated to one could surmise he's been training for this movie his whole career.

The hope, naturally, is to turn the adventures of anti-hero Snake Plissken into a franchise, and “follow the same formula employed by its Planet of the Apes franchise to great success."  What does that mean? Prequels, maybe? A couple of years ago producer Joel Silver wanted Charlie Hunnam as the eyepatched protagonist for a trilogy of movies. I'm curious to see who they'll get to fill Kurt Russell's shoes now.  Perhaps his son, Wyatt? [TheTrackingBoard]

Live-Action 'Akira' Eyes 'Life' And 'Lights Out' Directors


Despite their attempts at a live-action Akira meeting one roadblock after another for more than a decade, Warner Bros. still has hopes of getting it done. Most recently they had their sights set on Justin Lin (Star Trek Beyond) to direct it, but that was last year and nothing has come of it. While Christopher Nolan (*snort* Yeah right) and Mad Max: Fury Road's George Miller were sought, the only director who actually was attached for any length of time was Jaume Collet-Serra, who was around through a casting process at least. But now two more names have emerged as the project continues to try and get off the ground.

According to the latest episode of the Meet the Movie Press show, Life director Daniel Espinosa and David Sandberg, who directed the hit horror Lights Out, are on the list of contenders.  That's about all we know. Nothing on if someone has emerged as a frontrunner, or if these are just guys whose names have been mentioned as possibilities. This would be the biggest movie for either of them, though, and that's at least somewhat intriguing.

Of course, the size, scope, and cost of Akira has been the problem all along. Warner Bros. balked at the proposed budget and made huge cuts to the production, and that included aiming for lesser-priced talent and slashing expensive scenes from the story. That was a few years ago when studios were all tightening their belts and maybe things have changed a little bit. 

This Week In DC TV: Kara and Barry Get Trapped In A Musical



Hey Folks,

This week in the Arrowverse, was pretty good for each of our heroes.  On Supergirl, Kara and Mon-El had a falling out once the secret he has tried to keep hidden from her is finally revealed.   On The Flash, Barry finds himself in the same predicament that Kara was left with at the end of Supergirl, and the two are in a coma, stuck in a dreamscape where they are living in a musical.  On Legends of Tomorrow, the Legends have to protect the spear, so they enlist JRR Tolkien.  On Arrow, Oliver is in the hands of Prometheus (Chase Adrian), who wants Oliver to make a special confession.  During that time, we are treated to an extra long flashback where Oliver reveals how he took on Kovar in Russia.

So how did everything in the Arrowverse go this week? Let’s take a look at this week’s episodes:

Supergirl: “Star-Crossed

Last week in the aftermath of the alien immigration, there was a battle cruiser hanging above earth.  The two people who seemed to be in charge were geek alums Teri Hatcher and Kevin Sorbo glad that they finally arrived at Earth.  This week, we finally know what they were looking for.  Kara and Mon-El (along with everyone else in National City) are comfortably watching TV when a transmission interrupts their binge-watching to broadcast a demand for the surrender on Mon-El.  Now why would they want him, he’s a nobody, right?  Remember that one episode way back when, when the slaver-trading Dominator required that he not be harmed.  We knew he had to be of some importance.

At first, Kara takes the ship head on to defend the Earth.  However, this ship was well prepared for a Kryptonian, powered by the Yellow Sun.  After taking a little a bit of a beating and retreating, Kara regroups at the DEO where Mon-El decides to surrender himself to the possible invaders.  As he prepares to teleport to the ship, Kara latches onto him at the last moment and is transported to the ship as well.  When they arrive on the ship, Mon-El is reunited with his parents Rhea and Lar-Gand.  Turns out, he’s not some low-level assistant to Daxam royalty, he is Daxam royalty.  Feeling betrayed like Lisa in Coming to America, Kara doesn’t know what to say to Mon-El.  Remember, her people and the people of Krypton don’t naturally like her, and his family is a part of the reason.  Their embrace of slavery and ruthlessness is everything Kara despises.  

There’s also another problem arising.  Winn has been spending a lot of time with his new girlfriend Lyra.  When she and he sneak into a museum for a little risky sex, it turns out that the museum was robbed and he’s the only person who shows up in the recorded footage.  Of course, her race, cannot be captured by video or photography technology, so he’s been played as a mark by her so that she can carry out a crime.  Winn, still infatuated with her digs deeper and realize she has been setting up marks because her brother is being held hostage by local alien criminals.  Winn enlists James/Guardian to help her save her brother by attempting to negotiate with the criminals, only for the DEO to get involved and have them arrested.

Mon-El is left with a difficult decision, his parents request him to return to their homeworld so that they can rebuild the Daxum empire.  His mother even enlisted Kara to put in a good word for him to do just that.  Kara is still frustrated with the lie he’s been telling her since they met and delivers the message.  Even after she breaks up with him, he rejects his parents offer and decides to remain on Earth.  Kara tells still rejects him and it seems like their new working relationship will be a strained one.  

The DEO is escorting a new prisoner, who then easily escapes custody, and hypnotizes Kara, before taking the interdimensional portal machine that Cisco gave Kara way back when.  There he transports to Earth-1 in search of The Flash, to be continued……..

The Flash: “Duet

Hank Henshaw and Mon-El take a comatose Kara to Earth-1 via the dimensional teleporter with the hope that they can help revive her.  The escaped prisoner, The Music Meister has used his ability to transport her to some sort of dream world where she’s living in a musical.  

Barry and Wally quickly confront the Music Meister as he has shown up to STAR Labs looking for The Flash.  Fresh off his perilous agony from within the Speed Force, Wally is unsure of himself, and he knows it, as The Music Meister.  He is able to best both Wally and Barry and then puts Barry into the same trance he put Kara in.  Barry awakens like he’s in an old-timey musical and he finds Kara singing a solo at aa lounge.  

Oh, by the way, this entire episode is a musical, and a fantastic one at that.  We knew that Grant Gustin (Barry) and Melissa Benoist (Kara) had singing chops, as they are Glee alumni, as is Darren Criss (the Music Meister).  However, I was taken aback by the plethora of other talented voices on this week’s episode.  Victor Garber (Martin Stein) from Legends of Tomorrow appears as does John Barrowman (Malcolm Merlyn) and Winn Schott Jeremy Jordan.  Carlos Valdes (Cisco) and Jesse L. Martin (Joe West) also lend their voices this week and deliver some stunning songs.  Honestly, the Arrowverse should do this once a season.  At least evert season there needs to be a crossover episode, and a musical episode as the show was in rare form.  Kudos to the songwriters (including Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s Rachael Bloom who penned “Superfriends”) as well as the choreography for tonight’s episode.  




In the dream world, Barry and Kara were forced to sing at a nightclub for a local gangster.  Each of the people in the dream world appeared as those close to them.  Barry and Kara had to act out in a musical, but as the Music Meister told them, if they die there, they die in the real world.  The dream world was very reminiscent of an old gangster film with Joe West playing one gangster (with husband Martin Stein) and Malcolm Merlyn playing another gangster.  In their dream world, their daughter (Iris West) and Son (Mon-El) were in love with each other, and Barry and Kara were caught in the middle of everything.  

It was weird for Barry and Kara to see their significant others (who really weren’t as both couples were having relationship issues.  However, the gang war escalates.  Barry and Kara trying to keep the peace with both sides end up getting shot in the crossfire.  The real Mon-El and Iris voluntarily enter the dream world (thanks to Cisco’s Vibe powers) and they both are able to tell their significant others how they really feel.  This was what the Music Meister wanted all along.  This entire episode was him teaching them a “lesson” about love for each other.  Both Kara/Mon-El and Barry/Iris make up with each other and then Kara and company depart back to their Earth.  

The episode ends in the most touching way and Barry let’s go of his fear of the future and (this time for real) pops the question to Iris.  Pretty much the entire world melted during this scene.


Next week, it’s back to a less musical world as we meet new metahuman Abra Kadabra…


Legends of Tomorrow: “Fellowship of the Spear

With their current streak of wins against the Legion of Doom, the Legends have most of the pieces of the Spear of Destiny.  With no more pieces to get, they now have to get the missing pieces from the Legion and then protect the Spear.  Kinda like the “One Ring of Power.”  Oh, there will be a lot of Lord of the Rings references in this week’s episode of Legends of Tomorrow.

Rip knows where the Legion is hiding their pieces of the spear.  After all, he used to be a member of their team until the Legends manages to deprogram him back to his usual self.  Where could they be operating out of that exists out of time, The Vanishing Point of course.  The Legends haven’t been to this place since they defeated the shady Time Masters, and when Leonard Snart (Captain Cold) sacrificed himself to save the rest of the team.  His partner Rory has had a tough time this season dealing with his friend’s death, and has even been hallucinating and interacting with a ghost version of him.  The team manages to pull off a heist and steal the remaining pieces of the spear from under Eobard Thawne’s nose.  

Now with all the pieces of the Spear, they have to find a way to destroy it.  The Spear will tempt those close to it to use is, just like the Ring of Power.  Just like in the “Council of Elrond,” Rory tries to destroy the Spear using brute force.  Just like in Fellowship of the Ring, the McGuffin needs to be destroyed by other means.  The way to negate the powers of the Spear, is to introduce it to the blood of Jesus Christ as it was the spear that pierced his side at the crucifixion.  Rip tells the crew that the crucifixion (or any event with Jesus Christ) is an “off limits” point in time as Jesus was too important to history and no one should tamper with any history based off of him.  Nate, ever the historian knows of a legend where some of Jesus’ blood was captured and stored for safe keeping.  The one person who is knowledgeable of the legend is none other than famous author, JRR Tolkien.  

Both Tolkien and the rumored vial of blood are at the Battle of the Somme (Paris France, 1916, World War One), so the Legends head there to try and “turn the tide.”  After bringing Tolkien up to speed (as they did George Lucas), the Legends end up giving him the best dialogue from Lord of the Rings on their current adventure.  The Legion of Doom, however, have an ace up the sleeve.  They managed to recruit Leonard Snart to the Legion of Doom (before he joined The Legends) when he was a complete “bad guy.”  When Snart runs into Rory, Rory is still under the impression that he’s a hallucination and not the real person.  In addition to telling Snart The Legends’ plans, Snart also starts playing mind games with him, making Rory doubt him being on the team.  After Snart reveals himself to the Legends as they do battle with the Legion of Doom, now the team wants to sideline Rory thinking he may betray them to be with his old partner.  

After escaping, the team discovers where the vial is hidden, and it’s hidden on the battlefield.  How to separate the soldiers in the middle of World War One from each other so they can obtain the vial?  Rip gets on one of the communications devices and gives the same speech that Aragon made in Return of the King when he spoke of “A day may come when the courage of men fails.”  It’s just as inspirational as it was in the books and movies, and the battlefield is clear… except for the Legion of Doom.  Snart and Damien Darhk take on The Legends and in doing so manage to convert Rory onto the #teambadguys.  With that, they manage to steal the spear and destroy the vial.  Thawne then speeds into whisks them all away.

Now the Legion has the spear, and they know how to activate it.  The episode ends with them using the spear and reality will be pretty much altered.  We’ll have to wait until next week to see the new reality.


Arrow: “Kapiushon

This season Arrow has really found its groove back after last year’s disappointing season.  That is mostly in part to the show getting back to its roots, and also have a strong villain who was formidable for Oliver.  With the reveal that Prometheus was his District Attorney, Adrian Chase a few weeks ago, the quality of storytelling has really increased.  Outside of the bad guys on the Marvel/Netflix shows, Prometheus might just be the best bad guy on a superhero television show.  

This week he holds Oliver hostage and continuously tortures Oliver until he will confess.  However, he will not tell Oliver what he needs to actually confess for.  Oliver must come to that conclusion on his own.  Chase continues endless rounds of torture over many days, and even does mind games as he has Evelyn beaten and “killed” to get Oliver to confess.  She really was in on it and is very much alive by the end.

This week however, was full of Russian flashbacks.  In fact, this week’s episode, the present day gets the back burner as we finally learn of Oliver’s rampage against Russian bag guy Kovar (Dolph Lundgren) during a Bratva power struggle.  It’s in this episode that you really see Oliver in his Season One arrow ways, where he was “the hood” and indiscriminately killing.  You see the darkness within him as he unleashes it and can see just where the killing machine in Oliver came from.

It’s then when Oliver snaps to the realization and gives Adrian his confession.  Oliver LIKES to kill.  Him becoming the Green Arrow was not about enacting justice, it was really an excuse for him to enact his dark side and kill people with a purpose.  After confessing, Oliver is broken.  The icing on the cake is Chase taking a blowtorch to his Bratva tattoo.  Oliver is then released and returns to the Arrow Cave to tell his team that he’s done being the Green Arrow.

Next week, Team Arrow now has no leader.  Is their quest over?  Oliver also will enlist his Bratva compatriots to kill Chase.



3/25/2017

Interview: Danny Boyle On 'T2 Trainspotting', Getting The Band Back Together, & More


It was about seven years since the last time I spoke with Danny Boyle, and that was for the James Franco survival film, 127 Hours. In that time Boyle has only continued to make movies that cemented him as a personal favorite, but the one film I didn't expect to see from him was T2 Trainspotting. For one thing, while his 1996 movie Trainspotting is considered a stone cold classic to many, it never really spoke to me. The story of a handful of rebellious Scottish drug users just didn't appeal to me.


But with T2 Trainspotting something has clicked. Maybe it's that I'm older and wiser, and I see some of the same maturity reflected in Renton, Spud, Simon, and Begbie. Well, maybe not so much Begbie. So it was with particular interest that I, along with colleagues Leslie Combemale, Eddie Pasa, Dean Rogers, and others, had a chance to speak with Boyle about the long-awaited sequel. He talked about reuniting with Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Robert Carlyle, and Jonny Lee Miller after all these years, and getting back into the groove. He also talked about the increased expectations that come with doing a sequel, not to mention a sequel to a classic, and of course the possibility of a third film.

You can listen to the interview below, and check out my review of T2 Trainspotting here!

The 'Justice League' Trailer Unites The Team For Big Action And...Fun?


Judging from what we've seen of Justice League, it seems like the entire movie is going to be an extended recruitment drive. Even this brand new trailer released today mostly consists of Batman and Wonder Woman setting off to find Aquman, The Flash, and Cyborg in order to enlist them in a battle to save the world. But, an entire story can't be made out of that, can it?

Fortunately, the latter portion of the trailer fleshes things quite a bit and we see the team actually battling against the flying forces of Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds), a harbinger of the eventual big bad, Darkseid.  And there's a lot of cool stuff here, from Cyborg's heavy artillery to the banter between Bruce Wayne and Barry Allen ("What's your superpower?",  "I'm rich."), to Aquaman gleefully leaping into battle, and Wonder Woman looking every bit like the unstoppable warrior she is. Plus we see Amy Adams as Lois Lane and a quick look at Amber Heard as Aquaman's lover, Mera.

I think the main takeaway is that it's not all doom 'n gloom, this actually looks like a lot of fun.  Let's hope Zack Snyder isn't just pulling our legs because DC Films needs a purely entertaining movie at this point, regardless of how much money it makes.  Justice League opens November 17th! Check out the trailer plus the Cyborg teaser and poster from yesterday.




Spidey Is Right Where He Belongs In 'Spider-Man: Homecoming' Posters


There's been a lot of talk about Spider-Man on the big screen lately, and strangely enough hardly any of it has to do with Spider-Man: Homecoming. Mostly it's been about Sony and what seems to be an attempt to revive all of the projects they failed to produce before the Marvel deal, like a Venom movie and a teamup film with Silver Sable and Black Cat. Does anybody want these? That remains to be seen, but it's very possible fans are only interested in seeing how Spidey integrates within the MCU.

To that end, three new posters for Spider-Man: Homecoming have debuted, spotlighting his New York home.  Spidey and New York go together like peanut butter and jelly, and there's no hero in the Marvel Universe that shares a closer connection with their city.  What's great about these posters is they not only focus on New York and Spidey, but show that the hero is still just a kid as he chills out with his headphones across from Avengers Tower.

Directed by Jon Watts with Tom Holland under the mask, Spider-Man: Homecoming opens July 7th.




Review: 'CHiPs' Starring Dax Shepard And Michael Pena



You know how when you’re skipping around cable stations, and you stop on TNT or FX and they’re showing a movie that you kind of forgot about, but it’s interesting enough that you stay on it for a couple minutes and think “yeah, this is alright.” You know those types of movies I’m talking about? You’re aware that they exist, but seem to entirely miss them in theaters without even trying, and then like four years later you come across copies of the DVD being sold for five dollars in one of those large wire discount bins at a gas station. You know what I mean? Well CHiPs is the latest addition to this very specific subgenre of mediocrity.

Inexplicably written and directed by Dax Shepard of all people, CHiPs is yet another hard-R buddy comedy adaptation of an old TV show, in the vein of 21 Jump Street, Starskey and Hutch, and the upcoming Baywatch. While nowhere near as intelligent or creative as either of the Jump Street movies, CHiPs is entertaining enough to fill an hour and a half, with a couple chuckles here and there and some interesting-enough action set pieces and chase scenes thrown in for good measure. It’s not an especially glowing endorsement, but considering how unwatchable the trailers made it seem, I was pleasantly surprised by how okay-ish CHiPs turned out to be.


The film tells the mismatched-cops-who-learn-to-accept-their-differences-and-be-bros story we’ve seen a thousand times before with a relatively straight face. Most of the humor (however unsuccessful it may be) comes from the actions taken by the buddy cop duo (Shepard and Michael Pena) as opposed to from them being a buddy cop duo. This is the key critical difference between CHiPs and Jump Street. The film is still raunchy enough to earn its R rating and disregard the intentions of the original series, but not bold enough to ever satirize it. Fortunately, though, Shepard keeps the film moving at a pretty fast pace. That, coupled with his on-screen chemistry with Pena, makes this a watchable, if uninspired, middle-of-the-road action movie. High speed chases and motorcycle stunts that are competently filmed will always be at least a little interesting, and this movie gets that right as well.

 As for the “comedy” part of this action-comedy… it’s honestly very weird how many of the jokes in CHiPs don’t land. There’s a lot of questionable, dated, and easy shots taken in the movie that I suppose were going for shock laughs, but instead just felt tone-deaf and out of touch. Gay-panic jokes without a satirical slant just can’t fly anymore, and this movie spends a great deal of time proving that point.


The cast is fine, I suppose. Shepard and Pena both play well off of each other and make their scenes together pretty fun to watch despite their less-than-comedic dialogue. Vincent D'Onofrio seems to be exerting the minimum amount of effort required to make his villain anything other than physically imposing, which is disappointing since just this past fall he gave such a great character performance in The Magnificent Seven. He very much still has the ability to transform himself and wow an audience, but he seems to just pick and choose when to make an effort. So, much like he did in Jurassic World, he decided not to be interesting here. Kristen Bell is also in this movie, which is a decision I would question if I didn’t know she was married to Dax Shepard. I suppose they got to have fun filming together, even if he didn’t write her a very good part.


Ultimately, CHiPs is just an incredibly underwhelming movie. It did not have to be made, and there is next to nothing in it that stands out or is at all memorable. It’s not bad. Really, it isn’t. I watched the whole thing and had no problem doing so. The issue is that it also isn’t very good. CHiPs is a movie that was made and is fine. That’s really all there is to say about it.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

3/24/2017

Joseph Gordon-Levitt Will Now Direct His R-Rated Musical With Channing Tatum


It was more than a year ago that we first learned Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Channing Tatum would be teaming up for an R-rated musical comedy, and at the time I suggested it might be something Gordon-Levitt wanted to direct himself. Well, it took a while, but he's finally come around to thinking that way, too.

Gordon-Levitt will now direct and star in the film, which boasts a script by 21 Jump Street's Michael Bacall that has been likened to Pitch Perfect and Book of Mormon, set to the tune of Top 100 hits. Titled Wingmen, it stars Gordon-Levitt and Tatum as pilots who crash land in Vegas.

This sounds like a blast, as both actors are so multi-talented they can do pretty much anything. This will be Gordon-Levitt's second turn as director after Don Jon, which featured a cameo by Tatum. They've also starred together in Havoc and GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra. [Variety]