Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

Review: Santa Clarita Diet S3 blends slapstick, satire with genuine heart

April 20th, 2019
Sheila (Drew Barrymore) and Joel (Tim Olyphant) Hammond are married real estate agents with an undead secret.

Enlarge / Sheila (Drew Barrymore) and Joel (Tim Olyphant) Hammond are married real estate agents with an undead secret. (credit: Netflix)

The Santa Clarita Diet, Netflix's smart, slyly satiric sitcom about a zombie outbreak in suburban Southern California, has largely flown under the pop culture radar since it debuted in February 2017. And that's a shame, because it's easily one of the best half-hour comedies on TV right now. Season 3 brought the same winning blend of satire, snappy dialogue, slapstick, and of course, plenty of zombie-munching gore.

(Some spoilers below.)

The series centers on Joel and Sheila Hammond (Tim Olyphant and Drew Barrymore), married real estate agents in Santa Clarita who find their lives irrevocably altered after Sheila has an extreme upchucking incident while showing a house to prospective clients. She thinks it's a bad case of food poisoning but soon begins to crave human flesh. The upside: she feels better than she has in years, and her increased libido kick-starts the Hammonds' previously humdrum sex life into overdrive. Season 1 was a bit uneven, especially in the earlier episodes, but the show found its stride by the end of that first 10-episode run, and both seasons 2 and 3 are sheer bingeable delights.

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Posted in Entertainment, Gaming & Culture, Netflix, reviews, streaming television, Television | Comments (0)

Idris Elba steals the show as “Black Superman” in Hobbs and Shaw trailer

April 18th, 2019

Hobbs and Shaw trailer.

Universal Pictures dropped a second trailer for the studio's forthcoming Hobbs and Shaw, the first spinoff of its wildly popular Fast and Furious franchise. It looks like it will be the perfect summer popcorn movie, with ludicrous over-the-top action, Idris Elba stealing every scene as a cocky super-soldier, and the lovable, wisecracking duo of Hobbs and Shaw putting aside their differences yet again to save the world.

(Spoilers for some of the prior films in Fast and Furious franchise below.)

The first film in the series, The Fast and the Furious, debuted in 2001, and it focused on an undercover cop (the late Paul Walker) taking on a group of car hijackers led by Vin Diesel's Dominic Toretto. It earned more than $200 million worldwide against its relatively modest $38 million budget, so the film was followed by seven equally successful sequels and two short tie-in films. It's now Universal Pictures' most successful franchise of all time, grossing more than $5 billion worldwide. This juggernaut shows no signs of stopping: the ninth and tenth films are already in development, slated for release in April 2020 and 2021, respectively.

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Posted in dwayne johnson, Entertainment, Fast and Furious, film, Gaming & Culture, Hobbs and Shaw, jason statham, The Rock, Trailers | Comments (0)

Winter is here: humans rally as Night King advances on GoT S8 debut episode

April 15th, 2019
Jon Snow (Kit Harington) brings Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) home to meet the family at Winterfell.

Enlarge / Jon Snow (Kit Harington) brings Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) home to meet the family at Winterfell. (credit: HBO)

Winter is here! The first episode of the hotly anticipated final season of HBO's Game of Thrones aired Sunday night, and it proved a solid, if not scintillating showing. There were reunions galore, a bit of sniping and tension, a nifty new opening credits sequence, and the dragons (the true stars at this point) got plenty of screen time.

(Spoilers for first seven seasons; mild spoilers for last night's episode.)

Based on George R.R. Martin's best-selling epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire, HBO's Game of Thrones long ago outstripped the novels in terms of plot, although the author had some early input in shaping the TV series' broad narrative arc. We've seen plenty of sex, blood, and horrifying death over the course of seven seasons, and now it's time for the end game. This being George R.R. Martin, there's no guarantee of a happy ending.

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Posted in Entertainment, Game of Thrones, Game of Thrones season 8, Gaming & Culture, HBO, reviews, Television, television review | Comments (0)

Terry Gilliam’s Don Quixote film finally hits the big screen after 25 years

April 14th, 2019
Jonathan Pryce stars as an aging Spanish cobbler who becomes convinced he is Don Quixote in Terry Gilliam's film, <em>The Man Who Killed Don Quixote</em>.

Enlarge / Jonathan Pryce stars as an aging Spanish cobbler who becomes convinced he is Don Quixote in Terry Gilliam's film, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. (credit: YouTube/Warner Bros.)

It's been 25 years in the making, but The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, director Terry Gilliam's tribute to the classic Spanish novel, has finally hit the silver screen. The project has foundered and been revived so many times, it became a poster child for Hollywood's notorious development hell, with a reputation of being cursed. But Gilliam persevered, and while the finished product isn't exactly a masterpiece, it definitely reflects the singular vision of one of our most original filmmakers.

(Mild spoilers for the film and Miguel de Cervantes' 17th-century novel below.)

Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote is inarguably one of the most influential works of Spanish literature. The book is written in the picaresque tradition, which means it's more a series of loosely connected episodes than a plot. It follows the adventures of a nobleman (hidalgo) named Alonso Quixano who has read far too many chivalric romances and becomes convinced he is a knight errant. With his trusty peasant sidekick, Sancho Panza, he embarks on a series of random tragicomic adventures, with the Don's hot temper frequently getting them into scraps. (Sancho usually gets the worst of the beatings and humiliations.) Don Quixote is the archetype of the delusional dreamer, tilting at windmills and believing them to be giants, preferring his fantasy to mundane reality.

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Final countdown: Marvel drops one last teaser for Avengers: End Game

April 2nd, 2019

Marvel’s Avengers: End Game trailer.

There's just three short weeks before Avengers: End Game makes its hotly anticipated premiere, and Marvel is stoking the fires of anticipation with one last teaser, featuring our first glimpse of arch-villain Thanos, who seems more than ready for a rematch.

The first trailer for End Game dropped in December, giving us a glimpse of the Avengers who survived the Snappening, in which Thanos wiped out half of all living beings in the universe with a snap of his fingers, including many of our beloved superheroes. That's about all they could show us without giving too much away, although we did get a scene with Paul Rudd's Scott Lang/Ant-Man showing up, having escaped the quantum realm where he was presumably trapped at the end of Ant-Man and The Wasp.

A second trailer aired during the Super Bowl, using footage from just the first 20 minutes of End Game. We saw the fallen/dusted in rapid succession, in striking black-and-white hues with red highlights. But we also see them finally starting to regroup. Last month, Marvel dropped yet another trailer, taking us back to the origins of the remaining Avengers and introducing Brie Larsen's Carole Danvers (aka, Captain Marvel) into the mix for the first time.

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Tilda Swinton ninja-slices zombies in The Dead Don’t Die trailer

April 1st, 2019

The peaceful town of Centerville is terrorized by zombies in The Dead Don't Die.

The peaceful town of Centerville finds itself battling a zombie horde as the dead start rising from their graves in the first trailer for The Dead Don't Die, director Jim Jarmusch's deadpan foray into the zombie-comedy genre.

It's an interesting new direction for Jarmusch, but based on the trailer, the genre is tailor-made for his idiosyncratic style and deadpan wit. His career took off in 1984 with his first major film, Stranger Than Paradise. Shot entirely in black-and-white (a signature of the director's early work), the film won the Caméra D'Or at the Cannes Film Festival that year and established the director as a darling of arthouse cinema.

Movies like Dead Man, Mystery Train, Down by Law, Night on Earth, and Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai further cemented his auteur status. In 2005, Jarmusch won the Grand Prix at Cannes for Broken Flowers, which starred Bill Murray as middle-aged man searching for the mother of the son he never met. And Jarmusch is no stranger to unusual takes on traditional horror stories, as evidenced by his 2013 "crypto-vampire love story," Only Lovers Left Alive.

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Posted in Adam Driver, bill murray, Entertainment, film, Gaming & Culture, Jim Jarmusch, The Dead Don't Die, Trailers, zombies | Comments (0)

NatGeo’s riveting series Hostile Planet puts you in the center of the action

April 1st, 2019
"This is not your mother's natural history series." Host Bear Grylls filming in the Swiss Pennine Alps for the "Mountains" episode of National Geographic's new series, <em>Hostile Planet</em>.

Enlarge / "This is not your mother's natural history series." Host Bear Grylls filming in the Swiss Pennine Alps for the "Mountains" episode of National Geographic's new series, Hostile Planet. (credit: National Geographic/Oliver Clague)

It's more than an hour into a whale-watching excursion organized to promote National Geographic's new six-part series, Hostile Planet, and folks are starting to get restless. We saw our first Pacific gray whale before we'd even left the harbor. It swam right up to the boat to give us a good, long look at its telltale gray-white pattern over dark slate-gray skin. But now we're in the open sea with not a whale in sight.

According to Executive Producer Tom Hugh-Jones (Planet Earth II), it's just the tiniest taste of what it was like shooting this visually arresting series—except the intrepid camera crews and producers weren't sipping mimosas on a balmy 70-degree day in March off the coast of Malibu as they waited for the animals to show themselves. It took months of preparation followed by weeks of tracking various species, all to capture that perfect unexpected shot. They endured the same extreme conditions as the animals, for more than 1,300 days of filming, on all seven continents. Out of the resulting 1,800 hours of footage came the six segments of Hostile Planet, each focusing on a distinctive biome: "Mountains," "Oceans," "Grasslands," "Jungles," "Deserts," and "Polar."

(Some spoilers for the series below.)

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Posted in Bear Grylls, Entertainment, Gaming & Culture, Hostile Planet, National Geographic Channel, red in tooth and claw, science, Television | Comments (0)

Terrifying trailer for Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark will give you mega-chills

March 29th, 2019

It's 1968 in the small town of Mill Valley, home to a haunted mansion and a mysterious book, in Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark.

All those frightening tales kids tell around the campfires to spook their friends come to terrifying life in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, a new film from producer Guillermo del Toro. It's based on a series of children's books from the 1980s by Alvin Schwartz, who drew upon common folklore and popular urban legends for his scary stories.

Remember that classic campfire ditty, "the worms crawl in the worms crawl out/the worms play pinochle on your snout"? So does Schwartz. It's the basis for his scary story "The Hearse Song." You'll also find variations on the killer with a hook for a hand who preys on couples necking in parked cars. So too the hapless babysitter who discovers the call is coming from inside the house, along with plenty of other frightening fare. (The 2018 documentary Scary Stories delves more deeply into Schwartz's source material.)

While the books are technically aimed at kids, the material is pretty dark, which is why the series has often been listed among the most challenged books by the American Library Association. People have objected to the violence in Scary Stories series—and illustrator Stephen Gammell's genuinely disturbing, surreal images only add to the potential nightmares. In fact, publisher Harper Collins released a new 30th-anniversary edition in 2011 that didn't include Gammell's original illustrations, causing an uproar among longtime fans.

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Posted in Entertainment, film, Gaming & Culture, Guillermo del Toro, horror, movie adaptations, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Trailers | Comments (0)

Monsters from another dimension invade Earth in cosmic thriller Starfish

March 27th, 2019
Virginia Gardner plays Aubrey, who mourns the death of her best friend on the same day that a mysterious signal could end the world as we know it, in <em>Starfish.</em>

Enlarge / Virginia Gardner plays Aubrey, who mourns the death of her best friend on the same day that a mysterious signal could end the world as we know it, in Starfish. (credit: Yellow Veil Pictures)

A grieving young woman finds herself grappling with monsters from another dimension on what may well be the end of the world in Starfish, an atmospheric new film from UK director A.T. White. Can she work through her grief to piece together the elements of a mysterious signal that may be the key to averting the apocalypse?

(Some spoilers below.)

Described in promotional materials as a "cosmic horror thriller," Starfish tells the story of a young woman named Aubrey Parker (Virginia Gardner, The Runaways) who has just lost her best friend, Grace. After spending the night in her friend's apartment, Aubrey wakes up the next morning to find that everyone else has mysteriously vanished and that strange, ravenous monsters are roaming the streets. A strange signal from another dimension seems to be the culprit, opening a doorway between worlds. Grace knew something about this because she left a mixtape for Aubrey with the message "THIS MIXTAPE WILL SAVE THE WORLD." Aubrey embarks on a scavenger hunt for six other mixtapes Grace made for her to solve the mystery and, yes, perhaps even save the world.

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Jordan Peele’s Us should cement his status as a master of modern horror

March 22nd, 2019
Lupita Nyong’o stars as Adelaide Wilson, whose family encounters their own evil <em>doppelgängers</em> in Jordan Peele's new horror film, <em>Us</em>.

Enlarge / Lupita Nyong’o stars as Adelaide Wilson, whose family encounters their own evil doppelgängers in Jordan Peele's new horror film, Us. (credit: Universal)

A family is terrorized by their own doppelgängers while vacationing in Santa Cruz in Jordan Peele's new film, Us. With its spot-on writing and pacing and fantastic performances from its ensemble cast, the film should cement Peele's status as a master of modern horror.

(Mildest of spoilers below, because anything more would spoil the fun.)

Us is the much-anticipated follow-up to Get Out, Peele's surprise box office hit that earned more than $250 million and snagged Peele an Oscar for best original screenplay—the first time the award has gone to a black recipient. Get Out is a subtle exploration of racial tensions that quietly builds to reveal its horrifying premise and inevitably bloody conclusion. In Us, the theme isn't so much racial tension—it's exploring, in Peele's words, the myriad ways in which "we are our own worst enemies."

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