Setting the Stakes in Storytelling


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Everyone turns up for a car chase at the end of the world, and the cars won’t start.

Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men is a movie of exquisite direction, and I’m madly in love with the action scenes. Violence in Cuarón’s movie is sudden and unemphasized: the camera doesn’t flinch, the sound mixing doesn’t dwell, and that gives the action a terrible power. Children of Men knows a subtle secret.

Clive Owen’s in a paramilitary compound with the last pregnant woman on Earth. He needs to sneak her away. In the early morning he creeps out, sabotages the other cars, bundles his friends into the last working automobile, and gets it rolling. But the car won’t start! Alarms start ringing. Gunmen converge.

So Clive and buddies have to get out and start pushing.

And it’s thrilling. It had me keyed up in a way car chases never do—even though it’s ...

Half-Assed in a Half-Shell — Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)


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While 1993’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III didn’t do well enough to warrant a fourth film, the heroes in a half-shell continued unabated in various forms throughout the rest of the 1990s and the 2000s, both in comic book and screen form. The most successful was the animated series, which ran from 1987-1996. That was followed by a live-action series called Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation in 1997, which only lasted a season; a 2007 animated sequel to the three live-action films called TMNT; and a new animated series from 2003-2009. Plus the Turtles continued to be published in comics from Mirage, as well as Image and more recently IDW.

And then in 2014, a new film was made.

In 2009, Nickelodeon purchased all the rights to the Ninja Turtles, lock, stock, and bo staff. This included an announcement of a new movie in development that Nickelodeon’s parent company ...

J.R.R. Tolkien’s Life is Now a Movie: What Story is it Telling?


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At last, it’s nigh: the biopic of J.R.R. Tolkien that’s been steadily looming, though it was little more than a rumor until recent times. We got a few casting choices dropped like breadcrumbs over the last year, then some still images, and now we’ve got our first official trailer. Something to look at, theorize and marvel over until May 10 (or at least the next trailer drops).

Will this movie be like Finding Neverland or Goodbye Christopher Robin or The Man Who Invented Christmas? These biographical dramas sure are the rage now. So what’s in Tolkien’s, then? Let’s talk about it!

First off, all Tolkien-related media ought to be considered with a certain level of apprehension. It’s only fair. Even the best of Jackson’s adaptations pissed off book purists (which I am not; I loved them), so the bar should be placed…if not low, at least reasonably low-ish. ...

Watch the First Teaser for Disney’s Frozen 2


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Frozen 2 teaser Elsa Anna Olaf Sven Kristoff

The first time we see Elsa after nearly six years (!), she’s facing off against… the ocean? It’s unclear whether she’s trying to see if her powers extend to freezing rushing water, or if she’s confronting old fears about the shipwreck that killed her and Anna’s parents, but either way it’s a fascinating way to set up the sequel to Disney’s hit animated film.

There’s no official synopsis from Disney yet, but the teaser tells us plenty: Elsa (Idina Menzel), Anna (Kristen Bell), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), Sven, and Olaf (Josh Gad) are venturing outside of Arendelle—more specifically, to the forest. There are new characters voiced by Sterling K. Brown and Evan Rachel Wood (the latter it looks like we get a glimpse of), presumably new songs, and clearly new outfits. Watch the teaser:

Frozen 2 comes to theaters November 22.

Attack the Block Helped Set the Course for the Last Decade of SciFi Films


This post is by Joe George from Tor.com Frontpage Partial - Blog and Story Content


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When I recently took my seven-year-old daughter to see The Kid Who Would Be King, I did so out of parental obligation, not out of personal interest. Much to my surprise, I was rewarded with an exceptionally well-crafted adventure film—one with a winning and diverse cast, exciting setpieces, and entertaining supporting performances by Patrick Stewart and Rebecca Ferguson. None of this would of been a surprise to me, however, had the trailers touted the fact that the movie was directed by Joe Cornish.

Then again, I shouldn’t be too surprised. With only one directing credit to his name, and a few co-writing credits alongside Edgar Wright on The Adventures of Tin-Tin and Ant-Man, Cornish is hardly a household name, especially since his directorial debut came out in 2011. But, oh, what a debut it was…

Like The Kid Who Would Be King, Attack the Block could be ...

Attack the Block Helped Set the Course for the Last Decade of SciFi Films


This post is by Joe George from Tor.com Frontpage Partial - Blog and Story Content


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When I recently took my seven-year-old daughter to see The Kid Who Would Be King, I did so out of parental obligation, not out of personal interest. Much to my surprise, I was rewarded with an exceptionally well-crafted adventure film—one with a winning and diverse cast, exciting setpieces, and entertaining supporting performances by Patrick Stewart and Rebecca Ferguson. None of this would of been a surprise to me, however, had the trailers touted the fact that the movie was directed by Joe Cornish.

Then again, I shouldn’t be too surprised. With only one directing credit to his name, and a few co-writing credits alongside Edgar Wright on The Adventures of Tin-Tin and Ant-Man, Cornish is hardly a household name, especially since his directorial debut came out in 2011. But, oh, what a debut it was…

Like The Kid Who Would Be King, Attack the Block could be ...

Here’s Your First Look at Will Smith as the Genie in the New Live-Action Aladdin Teaser


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Disney live-action Aladdin Will Smith Genie blue

Well, they’ve done it. It was only a matter of time before Disney showed us just what Will Smith’s Genie looks like in the live-action Aladdin remake—not the Entertainment Weekly cover, but Genie in all his blue glory. But rather than remind us of Robin Williams’ take on the classic character, Smith’s got much more of a Tobias Fünke vibe. It’s… something.

Agrabah looks epic; the “Prince Ali” number looks delightful; but when it comes to the characters, the jury’s still out. Also, what is up with Jafar’s line reading—where’s the campiness? Rub the lamp and watch the teaser for yourself:

The official synopsis, from Walt Disney Studios:

A thrilling and vibrant live-action adaptation of Disney’s animated classic, Aladdin is the exciting tale of the charming street rat Aladdin, the courageous and self-determined Princess Jasmine and the Genie who may be the key to their future. Directed by Guy Ritchie, who ...

“I ruined the moment, didn’t I?” — Ant-Man


This post is by Keith R.A. DeCandido from Tor.com Frontpage Partial - Blog and Story Content


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When Avengers was released in 2012, it contained most of the original founding Avengers from 1963: Thor, the Hulk, and Iron Man. Missing, however, were Ant-Man and the Wasp, who were part of that original team, but had been conspicuously absent from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

This gap was finally addressed in a movie that didn’t come out until after the second Avengers movie.

Henry Pym first appeared in a standalone science fiction story in Tales to Astonish #27 in 1962, “The Man in the Ant Hill” by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby. The story was about a scientist (Pym) who created a formula that shrunk him down to insect size, at which point he was menaced by ants. The issue was very popular, and sold very well, so he was brought back in issue #35, this time as the superhero Ant-Man. It was later established that he ...

The LEGO Movie 2 “Grows Up,” But Did It Need To?


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You can only do The Sixth Sense once. You can’t duplicate The Usual Suspects. Making a sequel to a movie with an excellent, world-recontextualizing twist necessarily means that the follow-up will lack that element of surprise, and have to make up for it in another, usually much more meta, way. The twist of 2014’s The LEGO Movie came as such a shock because audiences had gone into what they believed was a kids’ movie and were bopping in their seats to the surprisingly infectious “Everything is Awesome,” thinking the animation was the most complex thing about the film. To reveal that all of it—Emmet, Wyldstyle/Lucy, President Business, the Kragle, the Special—were orchestrated by a real-world kid working out his frustrations with his absent perfectionist father was akin to looking at the bottom of the coffee mug and seeing “Kobayashi” stamped on the porcelain.

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ...

Michael B. Jordan to Produce Movie Adaptation of Marlon James’ Black Leopard, Red Wolf


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Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

Black Panther star Michael B. Jordan has signed on to adapt Marlon James’ epic fantasy novel Black Leopard, Red Wolf for Warner Bros. Jordan will produce with his company Outlier Society, which co-produced the HBO adaptation of Fahrenheit 451 in which Jordan starred.

Described as an African Game of Thrones, James’ novel follows a mercenary named Tracker following his nose through fantastical Africa in search of a missing boy and, even more crucial, the truth behind the boy’s disappearance.

More on the novel, the first installment in the Dark Star trilogy:

Tracker is known far and wide for his skills as a hunter: “He has a nose,” people say. Engaged to track down a mysterious boy who disappeared three years earlier, Tracker breaks his own rule of always working alone when he finds himself part of a group that comes together to search for the boy. The band is ...

Higher, Further, Faster: Watch the Latest Captain Marvel TV Spot


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Captain Marvel Super Bowl trailer higher further faster

We just can’t get enough of Brie Larson rising up with fury in her eyes and in her fists to fight the latest challenge.

Watch the Super Bowl TV spot, which includes cameos from Lashana Lynch, Jude Law, and of course de-aged Samuel L. Jackson:

Captain Marvel comes to theaters March 8.

Alita: Battle Angel Can’t Find Its Cyborg Heart, Relies on Visual Style and Sentimentality Instead


This post is by Emily Asher-Perrin from Tor.com Frontpage Partial - Blog and Story Content


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A project that has been well over a decade in the making, Alita: Battle Angel is based on a 1990s manga and anime that centers on a cyborg teenage girl trying to remember her past. Unfortunately, Hollywood’s less-than-optimal track record in adapting from these mediums holds stronger than ever. Though writers James Cameron and Laeta Kalogridis had years to develop their script, and eventually brought Robert Rodriguez on board as director, Alita is a muddled film that packs in action at the expense of substance and relies on Cameron’s worst storytelling impulses.

While the sets and fight sequences are complex and occasionally impressive, the over reliance on computer generated characters and locales are frequently distracting and at times unbearable. It doesn’t help that the titular character is hidden behind layer-upon layer of uncanny CGI. Played by Rosa Salazar, it’s impossible to tell if any good acting went into the performance ...

“I am Groot” — Guardians of the Galaxy


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The Guardians of the Galaxy were never really major players in the Marvel Universe. Originally created as superheroes of the future in order to do more science fictiony stories in 1969, they showed up as guest stars in various comics over the years, including Thor, The Defenders, and most notably Avengers during the Korvac Saga, one of the three or four greatest Avengers stories of all time in 1978 (issues #167-177).

Even the reboot of the Guardians in 2008 by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning wasn’t a huge success, only lasting 25 issues. But then this movie came out in 2014…

The Guardians being part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe only actually happened because Nicole Perlman, who had enrolled in Marvel’s screenwriting program in 2009, chose the Guardians to write about for her screenplay assignment. She wrote two drafts before James Gunn was brought in to rewrite and direct.

...

Excellent Fan Theory Time: Robocop is a Prequel to Starship Troopers


This post is by Emily Asher-Perrin from Tor.com Frontpage Partial - Blog and Story Content


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RoboCop and Starship Troopers

Not everything has to be connected, but sometimes it’s super fun to imagine that it is. Which is why this excellent fan theory caught my eye, and now I’m pretty much sold on it: RoboCop is the predecessor to Starship Troopers. Take this journey with me. You are entranced by the mere concept, I can tell.

Obviously we’re not talking in terms of when each came out—we’re talking about fictional timelines here. Over on Reddit, user TanookiDooki had a theory to that effect, and laid the argument out concisely. Connecting on several fundamental levels, from cultural norms to political commonalities to design, it not hard to buy that these universes could be connected.

Let’s start with the with the most obvious factor that could potentially unite the two: politics. In the RoboCop universe, after a series of events precipitated by a deal with the overtaxed Detroit Police Department, the ...

The Birds of Prey Movie Has a New Title and A Daring Look


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Bird of Prey teaser, Harley Quinn

Fans have been waiting to see what will come of Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, and now we’ve got our first glimpse of the Birds of Prey film—which has a new title that’s bound to raise a few eyebrows.

Here’s a super-short sneak peek. (We’re not calling it a trailer since it’s only 20 seconds long):

That had an intriguing art-film feel going for it, though that doesn’t mean the final film with have the same vibe. It’s good viral marketing, but it’s likely that this is just being framed to get people excited about the look and feel of the characters. Of course, it doesn’t help that we only see those dozen new pals for about a half-second a piece. Oh hey, there’s Ewan McGregor!

And now for the new title: Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)

This suggests that the film will center on ...

A Few Too Many Strings — Avengers: Age of Ultron


This post is by Keith R.A. DeCandido from Tor.com Frontpage Partial - Blog and Story Content


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Throughout their comics history, the Avengers have had several recurring villains. While Loki brought them together in 1963, he was more Thor’s specific problem. Over the years, they kept coming back to fighting against the various incarnations of the Masters of Evil, the time-traveling tyrant Kang the Conqueror, alien invasions from Kree and Skrull both, and the sentient indestructible robot Ultron.

Therefore, having the second Avengers movie have the team face off against Ultron probably seemed completely natural.

Ultron was originally created by founding Avenger Henry Pym (a.k.a. Ant-Man, Giant-Man, Goliath, Yellowjacket, etc.). It was a classic Frankenstein situation, where the created tries to destroy the creator. Made of indestructible adamantium and programmed with an artificial intelligence based on Pym himself, Ultron has proven an implacable foe to the Avengers over the decades.

One of the best Ultron stories, and one of the primary inspirations for this ...

Glass Is an Unnecessary Sequel that Undercuts Unbreakable


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Mr. Glass, Samuel L. Jackson

M. Night Shyamalan has had nearly twenty years to perfect any ideas he may have been tossing around for an Unbreakable sequel, and following the success of Split—which was set in the same universe—it was only a matter of time before Mr. Glass and David Dunn resurfaced. Sadly, everything that made Unbreakable one of the better ruminations on superhero archetypes on film is missing from Glass, which despite impressive performances manages to be neither as surprising, nor as thoughtful, as its predecessor.

[Spoilers for Glass, Split, and Unbreakable contained within.]

It doesn’t help that there are several issues with the very foundation of this fictional universe, particularly the ableism with which both Elijah Price (or Mr. Glass, still played with gleeful cunning by Samuel L. Jackson) and Kevin Wendell Crumb (or The Horde, a stunning and constant rotisserie of postures and voices from James McCoy) ...

Black Panther Nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars


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Black Panther Best Picture nomination Oscars Academy Awards

The nominees for the 91st Academy Awards were announced this morning, with the delightful news that Black Panther is among the nominees for Best Picture. (Though unfortunately Ryan Coogler did not get a nod for Best Director.) While it is the only explicitly genre film among the eight Best Picture nominees (last year had Get Out and eventual winner The Shape of Water), the Best Animated Feature category recognized Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Incredibles 2, and Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2.

Further, you’ll spot other genre films from the past year like Avengers: Infinity War, Ready Player One, and A Quiet Place in the requisite visual and sound effects categories; Black Panther has a few nominees among those as well, such as Kendrick Lamar’s “All the Stars” going head-to-head with Lady Gaga’s earworm “Shallow” for Best Original Song. (That’s seven nominations total for Black ...

“This isn’t freedom, this is fear” — Captain America: The Winter Soldier


This post is by Keith R.A. DeCandido from Tor.com Frontpage Partial - Blog and Story Content


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For a very long time, there was a feeling among a certain segment of hardcore comics fans. When Jean Grey was resurrected in the lead-up to the launch of the X-Factor comic book, it started a flood of character resurrections in Marvel (and DC for that matter). Heck, even Aunt May was revived! (Thus ruining a most powerful character death in Amazing Spider-Man #400.)

To many comics fans, though, there were two people who were likely to stay all dead, rather than be mostly dead: Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben and Captain America’s sidekick Bucky Barnes. Those two deaths were too important, too formative to ever be reversed.

And then in 2005, Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting did the “Winter Soldier” storyline in Captain America Volume 5 and blew that idea all to hell.

Brubaker and Epting managed to find a way to bring Bucky back that actually worked, ...

Watch the First Trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home!


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Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer Peter Parker Tom Holland summer vacation Europe Mysterio Jake Gyllenhaal

“Europe doesn’t really need a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.” Ohh, Peter, you sweet baby superhero. That already tells you plenty about Spider-Man: Far From Home, but watch the delightful first trailer for the sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming!

Just as its predecessor infused such high school rites of passage as the homecoming dance with potentially world-ending stakes, Far From Home takes on the quintessential high school Eurotrip, as Peter (Tom Holland), Ned, MJ, and Flash take in the sights in London, Venice, and other picturesque destinations. But superheroes don’t take a vacation, as evidenced by the presence of one familiar face and a new one, who’s Iron Man and Thor (and Doctor Strange, we’d say) all wrapped up in one. Watch the trailer for Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), a new Spidey suit, and Aunt May being the best:

Of course, the presence of Nick Fury and Peter himself gives some clues ...