When people seem more concerned with interpreting the increasingly cryptic previews for the next episode of any show, it’s a pretty good indication that the prior installment ended with some kind of incredible cliffhanger. Of course, when it comes to Breaking Bad, that has to do with last week’s superb ‘To’hajiilee,’ which ended midway through a gunfight that found Hank and Gomez horrendously outgunned, and definitely outnumbered in the psychopath department.
There’s a moment after the inevitable happens with Hank that finds Walt looking back in his rearview mirror and he sees nothing; there’s no evidence of what just transpired. It’s reflective of the way that director Rian Johnson composed ‘Ozymandias’ around Moira Walley-Beckett’s superb script, in how so much of the brutality that’s perpetrated throughout the episode, from the deaths of Hank and Gomez, to Jesse’s torture, to Skyler pulling Walt Jr. into her office to confess her crimes and the crimes of his father, occurs off-screen.
All the truly gruesome and visceral violence is ostensibly left on the cutting room floor; major scenes, like the episode itself, begin in medias res, a tactic that constantly leaves the audience gasping for breath and trying to keep pace, rather than waiting for events to play out. In essence, Vince Gilligan and his Breaking Bad crew have already set up all their shots, and now it’s time to take them.
But this technique is significant in another way, too. Because for all the carnage that’s perpetrated against major characters in the episode, there’s perhaps none more horrific or lasting than what transpires between Walt and his family. Knife fights are one thing; there’s a good chance the cut on Walter’s hand will heal with time, perhaps forming a scar as a lasting reminder. The difference between Skyler’s attack on Walt is that it isn’t coming from a place of outright aggression, but rather one of self-defense (whatever her complicity in the past); it’s a violent response visited upon an assailant who has inflicted wounds upon his family that will surely never heal.
At this point, the scope of Walt’s storyline has been reduced from the souless pursuit of building an empire, to simply providing for his family, to mere self-preservation. Twice during ‘Ozymandias’ Walt tries to sell the magic and the wonder of a bright, shiny new life – “Any future you want” – that all his money will be able to buy, to those who are past the point of listening to him. Walt tries to buy Hank’s life from Jack, as though there’s something he has to offer the Nazi that the guy can’t simply take. Despite the promise of 80 million dollars and the sort of freedom from the toils of meth making that amount of money can buy, Walt winds up on the losing end of the bargain when Jack takes nearly all of his cash and the life of his brother-in-law.
In one final act, Walt buries any hope of ever returning under a torrent of words designed to paint him as the mastermind, and his family – and Skyler in particular – as the unwitting victims in his dreadful scheme. There is no future for Walter White anymore, and he knows it. In fact, there’s no Walter White from this point on either; there’s just a man who used to be him, and will soon be Mr. Lambert.
Kevin Yeoman blogs at Screen Rant.
Entertainment brands are no longer being built lengthwise – they’re being built widthwise. In a post-Avengers world, extending a franchise through sequels, prequels, interquels or other time-bending techniques isn’t sufficient; audiences of today want unique worlds to fully immerse themselves in – the bigger, the better.
Marvel superheroes and their universe have given rise to expansion plans for the DC Superhero, Star Wars and Harry Potter universes – even television has been following the strategy, with AMC widening their Breaking Bad franchise into the Better Call Saul spinoff series; and now more world will be added to the network’s flagship series, The Walking Dead.
AMC made the announcement that it will produce a Walking Dead companion series with a 2015 air date in mind; serving on the show as executive producers are Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman and show producers Glae Anne Hurd and David Alpert.
Kirkman had the following to say about the new show (of which details are scant at the moment):
“After 10 years of writing the comic book series and being so close to the debut of our fourth, and in my opinion, best season of the TV series, I couldn’t be more thrilled about getting the chance to create a new corner of ‘The Walking Dead’ universe,” said Kirkman. “The opportunity to make a show that isn’t tethered by the events of the comic book, and is truly a blank page, has set my creativity racing.”
Along with the rise of the “franchise universe” model has come the inevitable cynicism that “universe building” is actually just a euphemism for “cash-grabbing.” In the case of a Breaking Bad spinoff it’s easy to see why someone might feel sour about such a focused and self-contained character drama being transformed into a franchise universe; however, Walking Dead is a different creature, entirely.
The goal of Robert Kirkman was always to create a zombpocalypse saga that is long-lasting and widespread, so really the comic series (and subsequently the show) comes with inherent potential for a much larger universe to be explored. There are infinite number of characters, storylines and perspectives that could be configured into a marketable show; the caveat being that the showrunners will have to be able to find a distinctly new thematic and character drama hook, other than survivors trying to deal with the toll of survival on a zombified earth. We’ve seen that before. Judging from Kirkman’s words, however, something new and fresh is indeed the intention.
Personally speaking, I was one of those viewers who was wholly engrossed when Lost ran its “Tailies” mini-arc in the second season. The switch in perspective and introduction of new characters – different and intriguing characters – set within a familiar world, was an overall fun experience. (In fact, I still consider it a misstep that the showrunners ultimately negated the entire “Tailies Saga” by systematically killing those characters off.)
That’s all to say: There is plenty of potential for the zombpocalypse to offer us more compelling TV drama – at least in my opinion.
Kofi Outlaw blogs at Screen Rant.
Insidious: Chapter 2 picks up right where chapter 1 ended, with Renai Lambert (Rose Byrne) discovering the corpse of murdered medium Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye), with her husband Josh Lambert seemingly the culprit. After a police investigation fails to connect the fingerprints that strangled Elise to Josh, the Lamberts are set free to return to life as normal – only normality never comes, as more supernatural occurrences begin to plague Renai and her once-comatose son, Dalton (Ty Simpkins), with Josh oblivious to it all in his militant insistence that the family get back to normal.
Meanwhile, Elise’s former assistants Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson) recruit a veteran medium named Carl (Steve Coulter) to help contact their former mentor and solve the case of who murdered her. However, as the team digs into Elise’s death, they quickly find connections to Josh Lambert and the entities haunting him, getting closer to a dark truth that spans time and space, life and death.
James Wan is, by now, an established name in the horror genre, and he’s enjoyed recent horror movie success thanks to his summer hit The Conjuring. However, Insidious was a much more divisive movie in terms of fan reception, and that stigma – combined with high expectations based on Wan’s other 2013 horror entry – are likely going to challenge Insidious: Chapter 2 in regards to viewer satisfaction. Harder still will be the adjustment as viewers realize that Wan has less interest and re-heating old Insidious ghost-story leftovers, and instead uses the sequel to truly expanded the mythos of his characters and world, ultimately creating something that is more akin to The Shining.
While Chapter 2 does include a few effectively creepy signature Wan scare sequences, the majority of the film is dedicated to laying out a two-handed narrative (once again co-written by Wan and Whannell). On the one hand we get a Shining-style psychological thriller centered on the Lambert household; on the other hand, a supernatural horror-mystery revolving around Elise’s team and their investigation into the history of the ghostly old woman who killed Elise.
Whether or not those two plot threads appease fan expectations, Wan and Whannell do an effective job of using the first film to create an intriguing and tense (if not scary) second chapter, which does what so many other “Chapter 2″ pieces fail to: expand upon a self-contained story in an intriguing and smart way, making creative and logical use of all the various elements of the first film while tweaking and evolving those ideas in new ways. Taken altogether, Insidious parts 1&2 form a complete unbroken story whose various threads weave together into a logical and cohesive whole – one that even offers a few twists, and juggles powder keg plot devices like time-travel with a clarity and focus that is impressive. Just seeing the whole saga come together is worth a theater ticket price – a rarity in horror movie storytelling.
Wan’s directorial imagination is as keen as ever – even when it’s not being used to terrify at rapid-fire pace. The changed setting (now located in Josh’s childhood home) is more ominous, the visual palette is more dismal and dreary – and as stated, there are still those set pieces and sequences throughout the film that will give you chills. It may be fewer chills than you want or expect from a horror film like this, but they’re memorable enough to make the overall experience worthwhile.
The cast are given new angles and arcs to play out in this second chapter. Without spoiling anything, Wan’s “muse” Patrick Wilson is given something much more dynamic than his usual straight-man role and does fairly well with it – even if he fails to reach that Nicholson “Jack Torrance” level of slow-burn mania. Byrne, by comparison, does a better Shelly Duvall, blending matriarchal concern with wide-eyed naiveté – though that sort of character feels a bit outdated in modern context.
Supporting characters like young Dalton (Simpkins) Josh’s mom Lorraine (Barbara Hershey), and ghost-hunters Specs (Whannell) and Tucker (Sampson) are given expanded roles and all manage to create more interesting and essential characters than we saw in the first film. Coulter quickly and concisely establishes Carl as a solid and likable exposition tool, and Lin Shaye (Something About Mary) is a welcome sight again, even in her small cameo role.
As stated, by the time the third act of the film rolls around – and Wan truly goes for broke with his Shining homage - we’re left with a movie that has plenty of narrative meat and good tension – but not that many scares, per se. Then again, horror movie scares are always a subjective (and very divisive) thing, so maybe it’s for the best that Wan and Co. focus instead on providing us with a fun ride of intrigue and suspense, instead of trying emphasize the horror build-up/pay-off catharsis. Insidious: Chapter 2 has a lot of moving parts, and on the whole they are arranged into a proper and fitting closing arc to one of the more memorable horror movie tales of the last few years.
Is it the next Conjuring? No. But even while working at a slightly lower level, Wan’s prowess as a storyteller and director in this more interesting and well-plotted second chapter may ironically end up luring in those who weren’t even onboard with Insidious in the first place. Proof positive that there is benefit in not making your “Part 2″ a “Part 1 Redux.”
Kofi Outlaw blogs at Screen Rant.
We have reached the beginning of the end for AMC’s hit Breaking Bad, and the notion of finding a natural ending for television storytelling has been popping up in relation to some of the other cable dramas considered to be in BB‘s league – notably FX’s outlaw biker-gang series, Sons of Anarchy.
As season 6′s premiere approaches, Sutter spoke with Zap2it about where the next two seasons will take the MC and the souls caught up in the club’s violent, often tragic orbit… as well as the predicted lack of a happy ending.
Season 5 saw Jax Teller truly step into his role as President of the club, and his increasing brutality has revealed that his trajectory makes him look more and more like his stepfather Clay. Sutter talks about where Jax will be at the open of season 6, acknowledging that the shocking, brutal death of his best friend Opie is what’s driving him at this point:
"Opie set himself up, knowing where it was all going to a certain extent. And him sacrificing himself for the club, for Jax to walk away would be dishonoring his memory. That’s what I’m talking about when I say the ghost of Opie is living in Jax, in at least the first half of the season, and is sort of motivating him to … not necessarily go rogue, but perhaps pushing him down this path where he may be leaping before he looks."
As for Clay, he has lost everything - his club, his family, and the position of power he’s so used to. As portrayed by the great Ron Perlman, he has become increasingly isolated… which may simply make him more dangerous. Perlman appears to have internalized Clay’s position, since he has become uncomfortable playing the character given his current state.
Sutter responded to this observation:
"Yeah, you know it’s interesting. Actors always sort of tend to experience what their characters are going through. When you’ve been part of something so long, and are so committed to it … It’s so ironic because I think a lot of what Ron is feeling, in terms of what’s going on with Clay, is really what Clay is feeling.
When you’ve been playing these characters so long, and I saw it on “The Shield” too, it’s hard to distance yourself from it and not wear it. Not that they can’t distinguish reality from fiction, but you just wear it for a certain amount of time. To be a sort of vital part of this environment for so long, then all of a sudden to do these things that have you exiled from it all, and now you’re living this other life. It’s as difficult, I think, for Ron as it is for Clay. And it’s really interesting to see the impact that has on Ron."
Given the long, long list of underhanded, dishonest, and just plain evil things Clay has done over the course of the series, a path of redemption might be the only saving grace for the character. Sutter commented further on this unexpected position Clay is in: “I think, for me, it’s the most honest and real we’ve ever seen Clay. I think it’s truly more who he is as a man than anything else we’ve seen to date.”
One of the more fascinating character arcs since the show began has been that of Tara (Maggie Siff), who returned to her hometown – and to her teenage sweetheart, Jax – as a promising surgeon, only to become as deep into the violent, turbulent life of the Sons as anyone else.
Tara is in prison as season 6 opens, and while Sutter did not directly comment on what could happen to her next, he did reflect on where the character came from – when we first meet her, she’s on the run from an obsessed stalker:
"You know, Maggie and I have conversations about who she is and where she’s going all the time. But, I gotta tell you, and I’ve always said this whether it was conscious or unconscious, when Tara was being pursued by Agent Kohn (season 1), she really felt like her life was in danger, because he was a federal agent and nobody was going to believe her and nobody was going to protect her. So she came back to the one guy she knew could do it.
I think when that happens, when Jax kills Kohn in episode 7, to be okay with that and for them to consummate the relationship … Once that happens, I think it’s really about 'Okay, I’m in.' That was a decision she made, and I felt like at that point she could not be spared the consequences of the life. She’s trying to, but ultimately once she made that decision that she was part of it, she’s subjected to the same circumstances as everybody else."
And just how will all this end? Kurt Sutter has already said that he expects the show to conclude in “a pool of blood.” Sutter elaborates here in an abstract way on how likely a happy ending is for any of the characters:
"You know, here’s how I describe all this: It’s a heavy world, it’s a dark world but as heavy and violent as it is, I like to think that ultimately there is some sense of hope. So that it’s sad and heavy, but there is always some sense of hope.
Will it be a happy ending? No, but I do think that there will be something hopeful about the way it ends."
Given the distinct sense of free-fall for every major character on this show, the notion of some kind of hope to mark the end of such an overall dark tale comes as something of a surprise, but with the utter hell many of these people have been through, there is a clearly a lesson to be learned from it all. We’ll find out for sure as Sons of Anarchy enters it’s final two seasons.
Anthony Vieira blogs at Screen Rant.
A few decades ago, most would have said animated films were strictly the realm of children.
But with Disney, Pixar, Miyazaki, and other powerhouse studios and directors on the scene, it’s become obvious that movies crafted out of drawings or computer animation can be entertaining to younger moviegoers as well as resonant and powerful to the adults accompanying them (or the adults who went by themselves, no longer an unheard-of phenomenon). From the heroic journey of Akira to Carl’s struggle to let go of his wife in “Up,” to Belle and the Beast's love story in "Beauty and the Beast," and Ari’s struggle with his loss of memory in “Waltz with Bashir,” quality animated films have arrived over the past years from all over the world and have struck a chord with many.
So which is the best of all time? We're leaving that question to you. We're asking Monitor readers to vote on Facebook for whichever film they believe is the finest animated movie ever created. Our staff selected 25 contenders total – now it’s your turn. Vote in our Facebook poll, which will close on Sept. 27. Shortly after that, we’ll announce how the movies ranked and which film came out on top.
RECOMMENDED: The 50 best movies of all time
Of our contenders, the oldest is Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” which arrived on the scene in 1937. The newest contestant is 2010's “Toy Story 3,” which was also the only sequel to make our cut.
It’s time to defend your favorite. Happy voting!
RECOMMENDED: The 50 best movies of all time
'Riddick' review: Vin Diesel's character is abrasive but most moviegoers will find something to like
Riddick serves as a direct sequel to The Chronicles of Riddick as the titular antihero abandons the Necromonger throne to seek out his homeworld, Furya. Riddick (Vin Diesel) leaves peacefully and the Necromongers agree to escort him on his journey – only to maroon the fugitive on an unknown planet with highly evolved (and subsequently extremely lethal) animal life.
As Riddick recovers, he begins exploring the planet in an effort to find transport off-world. With time against him, as well as a ruthless alien threat on the horizon, he makes a desperate move – and sends out an open channel distress signal, alerting a group of merciless bounty hunters to his location. Ruthless and well-armed the mercenaries prepare to take Riddick dead or alive (the bounty doubles if he’s dead) – meaning, if he hopes for return to Furya, Richard B. Riddick will have to fight through some of the most dangerous humans and alien creatures he’s ever encountered.
Pitch Black and Chronicles of Riddick director/writer David Twohy returns for the sequel, but fresh eyes from Unknown screenwriters Oliver Butcher and Stephen Cornwell help the latest Riddick installment walk a fine line between franchise past and future. For that reason, Riddick will have no problem pleasing longtime fans of the series while also delivering an accessible and entertaining sci-fi action experience for casual moviegoers. The movie reinstates Riddick‘s R-Rating – so uninitiated viewers who aren’t familiar with the Riddick character (along with his trademark brutality, sexual innuendo, and deranged morality) could find certain elements of the character (as well as the larger movie) off-putting. Still, Riddick’s abrasive and lethal personality is part of the fun – and has always been what sets the character apart from comparable Hollywood heroes.
The opening moments of Riddick are tied to the events of The Chronicles of Riddick (2006) but the overall structure and tone are much closer to franchise-starter Pitch Black. The Riddick storyline actually draws a number of direct connections to events in the original film and offers-up several fan service nods as well as thematic parallels – so many, in fact, that some viewers may want to brush-up on the prior installments (mainly Pitch Black) if they wish to get the most out of Riddick‘s story. That said, revisiting past movies in the franchise is not required, as viewers who are willing to let a few references and revelations pass by will find that Twohy is surprisingly good at laying out all of the necessary pieces for the events at hand.
Surprisingly, in spite of all the franchise backstory, references, pertinent exposition, a dingo-like sidekick, and a roster of diverse mercenary characters, Riddick is actually pretty straightforward – with an intriguing three-act structure that keeps the plot tight and engaging. The first third of the film sets the bar high, with a minimalistic survival story that is both unique and captivating – while managing to show a more vulnerable Riddick (without softening his personality or skills). Yet, even as the film locks into a more familiar monster-killing/CGI action-thriller, Twohy has enough smart elements in the mix that keep the film sharp – even when it borrows heavily from Pitch Black as well as other sci-fi favorites.
As mentioned, the Riddick character is explored as well as challenged in a number of interesting ways this round. While some moviegoers unfairly dismiss Diesel as a one-note muscle head, the actor has kept busy honing his craft over the last decade – and it shows in Riddick. Diesel has injected (a few) subtleties into the character that the star could not have presented thirteen years ago. Consequently, this version of Riddick is the most interesting, honest, and outright believable of the series – making him even more terrifying (and at times humorous) than ever before.
The supporting cast is a solid roster of characters that make for appealing Riddick (and monster) fodder. A few of the bounty hunters – most notably Santana (Jordi Mollà), an unscrupulous mercenary, and Luna (Nolan Gerard Funk), a devout Christian – fall into predictable arcs that provide a few laugh-worthy moments but never escape one-note cliche. Fortunately, the remaining crew is a bit more nuanced, most notably Boss Johns (Matt Nable) – who has complicated backstory to unpack with Riddick. Katee Sackhoff gives a welcome (but equally no-nonsense) dose of girl power into the team as Dahl. It’s another strong female role for the actress, and Dahl is instrumental in the success of the Riddick story (aided by fun banter between her and the titular antihero); unfortunately, the part doesn’t allow Sackhoff to stretch very far out of Starbuck (Battlestar Galactica) typecasting. Dave Bautista (soon to be seen in Guardians of the Galaxy) is another standout. A formidable presence with surprisingly keen comedic timing, Bautista offers slick fisticuffs as well as several big laughs.
Honorable mention goes to the Riddick effects team – who create one of the most believable CG animal companions in recent memory. A sizable dingo-like dog, the animal is instrumental in bringing out new sides of Riddick’s personality – resulting in some especially amusing moments. The alien threat this round is equally well-realized through convincing effects and imaginative creature design – even more intimidating than the Pitch Black Bioraptors that helped sell Riddick as a potential franchise antihero. As a result, audiences can expect that with a more formidable set of otherworldly monsters to fight, Riddick also delivers plenty of solid action set pieces that mix practical and digital effects (instead of the overly CGI environments and brawls that undercut The Chronicles of Riddick).
Riddick is also playing as an IMAX Experience and while the sprawling alien landscapes look (and sound) great in the premium format, most frugal filmgoers will likely find the overall presentation isn’t worth the added cost. In certain scenes, IMAX is actually a distraction more than a benefit – as the film quickly cuts back and forth between fullscreen and widescreen shots within a single sequence. Viewers who simply want a bigger and louder Riddick experience are the only ones that should spring for the higher price.
Despite some underwhelming adherences to stock sci-fi stories and characters, as well as moments of eye-rolling dialogue and a few indulgent character beats, Riddick offers a solid action-horror experience. A more experienced performance from Vin Diesel helps transition Riddick from an over-the-top action hero into a fully realized character that is actually capable of sustaining a quality film franchise. While longtime fans will surely enjoy seeing Riddick back on the big screen, the latest series installment should have no problem drawing in non-fans too – not to mention set the stage for further chronicles of Richard B. Riddick.
Ben Kendrick blogs at Screen Rant.
[UPDATE: It's Official - Prepare for Transformers: Age of Extinction!!!!]
Transformers 4 has been surrounded in secrecy during its production. Director Michael Bay returned to the franchise in order to launch a new (semi-rebooting) chapter of the Transformers saga, which he will then (allegedly) pass off to a new director and creative team. So far we have new human characters in the form of Mark Wahlberg’s gear-head/inventor character, Flynn Vincent; Flynn’s hot rod enthusiast daughter played by Nicola Peltz (Bates Motel) and her speed-racing love interest played by Jack Reynor (What Richard Did). We also know that in addition to returning favorites like Optimus Prime and Bumblebee, the actual Transformers might see new additions like Slingshot and Drift, Hound – possibly even Nemesis Prime or Ultra Magnus.
But what about those lingering rumors that the fan-favorite Dinobots could be in TF4 - and what is the official subtitle to this fourth film? Today’s update may help answer questions on both those fronts.
Over the weekend, Fusible picked up on a story involving the brand protection agency that oversaw the registration of the domain name TransformersDarkoftheMoon.com when the third film was released. The studio is allegedly once again registering various domain names in anticipation of the Transformers 4‘s release next summer, with the following candidates being listed by Fusible:
HOWEVER, Transformers World 2005 also makes the claim that the following subtitle has ALSO been registered with Hasbro:
- Transformers: Age of Extinction
Of the the three, I personally find “Age of Extinction” to be the most likely. The fact that Bay has repeatedly made it clear that TF4 is a new beginning makes “Apocalypse” or “Last Stand” feel a bit off the mark – with “Last Stand” seeming particularly troublesome, given its proximity to that similarly-titled Arnold Schwarzenegger comeback vehicle that flopped at the box office early this year. Of course, there is another factor to consider: The Dinobots.
We’ve heard continued rumors and speculation that the Dinobots will make a major appearance in TF4 - and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura recently added major fuel to that fire when he told Beijing News the following when discussing China’s role in the movie:
“I can not disclose the specifics, but you can be sure that the joining of the Dinobots will give the audience new excitement. In addition to Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, the appearance of these classic roles changed, today the world’s coolest, most exciting cars will appear in the film, including China’s vehicles, whether you are a car enthusiast, you will feast your eyes and be shocked by them.”
Is that confirmation that the Dinobots are in the film? Certainly sounds like it. Others are also pointing to some recent set photos (SEE them HERE) which have the production crew sporting hats with TF4 logos – logos which seem to have claw marks in them, presumably teasing the Dinobots’ appearance. Given all that evidence that Dinobots will be in the film – and leaked alleged plot spoilers that fit in line with the clues we’ve seen so far – it seems that “Age of Extinction” would be a most fitting title for two reasons:
- “Age of Extinction” could refer to a history involving the Dinobots (who would be resurrected from long dormancy or death).
- The subtitle could also refer to the rumored deaths/transformations that certain characters (like Megatron) could go through – a “changing of the guard” for the franchise.
Resident Evil already has its “Apocalypse” and Schwarzenegger already has his “Last Stand” – so when the dust settles and official confirmation is out, don’t be surprised if “Transformers: Age of Extinction” is soon covering billboards and TV screens in your area.
Kofi Outlaw blogs at Screen Rant.
After appearing on “Saturday Night Live” for seven years and producing phenomenally popular “Digital Shorts,” how will Andy Samberg transition to a traditional sitcom?
Samberg is starring in the Fox comedy “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” a new comedy premiering Sept. 17, which follows Samberg’s character Jake Peralta, a police detective whose immature ways are challenged by his precinct’s strict captain (Andre Braugher). “Gossip Girl” actress Melissa Fumero is playing Jake’s partner Amy.
The show was created by Michael Schur, who is the executive producer and co-creator of the NBC comedy “Parks and Recreation,” and Dan Goor, also an executive producer for “Parks.”
Some are already hailing “Brooklyn” as a success, with TVLine writer Matt Webb Mitovitch calling “Brooklyn” “the fall’s best new comedy” after having seen the pilot. (TV writers often clarify that their appraisals of pilots that haven’t yet aired are more first impressions than reviews because of the pilots’ unfinished nature and how often they change before they make it to primetime.)
“Is it doing anything revolutionary?” Mitovitch wrote of the pilot, “not really… I think it successfully serves up the rare cop shop comedy, filled with LOLs and boasting a vivid, diverse ensemble devoid of any clunkers.”
HitFix writer Daniel Fienberg said the show was “one of this fall's better comedy pilots” but that the laughs were a little lacking.
“For the show to work, the writers will need to hone the consistency of its comedic flow,” he wrote. “The pieces are all here and they just need to gel a tiny bit more for "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" to become a winner.”
Meanwhile, BuzzSugar writer Becky Kirsch said she found Samberg “downright delightful” but that “while some of the supporting characters work, like Braugher as the intimidating new captain of the police force and Melissa Fumero as Jake's love interest/rival, a lot of the other faces around the police station are too cartoony.”
Will viewers be drawn in by Samberg’s new comedy?
Labor Day approaching means it’s almost time to pack away the beach chairs and get that last ice cream cone, but in movie world, it also signifies the competitive summer blockbuster season is drawing to a close.
While there are always misfires as movie studios rush to release their tentpole films during a time of the year when no one’s in school and everyone’s desperate for air-conditioning, some films came out on top. Now, the week before Labor Day, we can take stock. Here are the movies that were crowned kings of the box office. (We counted summer as lasting from Memorial Day weekend until Labor Day, though the Labor Day weekend box office may push one of these movies off the list.)
5. “World War Z”
The movie, which came out on June 21, puts Brad Pitt at the center of a zombie infestation when his character Gerry Lane, a former investigator for the UN, has to figure out what’s caused the pandemic. The film is based on the book of the same name by writer Max Brooks and grossed more than $198 million, according to the website Box Office Mojo. Critics were lukewarm – “Z” currently has a score of 63 on the review aggregator website Metacritic.
4. “Fast & Furious 6"
“Fast,” which was released on May 24, had cast members Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, and Jordana Brewster return as a group of criminals who face off with Luke Evans as villainous former military man Owen Shaw. Despite its domestic box office haul of more than $238 million, it received a middling response from critics, with the film scoring 61 out of 100 on the review aggregator site Metacritic. However, it’s already done better at the box office than its precedessor, “Fast Five,” which brought in more than $209 million in domestic ticket sales.
3. “Monsters University”
“University,” Pixar’s sequel to its film “Monsters, Inc.,” was released on June 21 and traveled back in time to tell the story of protagonists Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sully (John Goodman) attending college and learning to be the top scarers they later become. The movie grossed more than $261 million domestically but received mixed reviews, scoring a 65 at Metacritic. But reviewers were more enamored of it than Pixar’s last sequel, “Cars 2,” which scored an average of 57.
2. “Man of Steel”
The newest Superman film came out on June 14 and starred Henry Cavill in his first go-round as Clark Kent, Amy Adams as intrepid reporter Lois Lane, and “Boardwalk Empire” actor Michael Shannon as villain General Zod. The film was the latest attempt to reboot Superman after 2006’s “Superman Returns,” and a sequel to “Steel” is already planned. The movie raked in more than $289 million at the box office, but critics were even less impressed with this film – it currently has an average review score of 55.
1. “Despicable Me 2”
The animated film starring Steve Carell as a former supervillain and Kristen Wiig as his romantic interest was released on July 3 and has grossed an estimated domestic haul of more than $350 million, already far beyond the original movie’s domestic gross of more than $251 million. However, critics liked the first better; “2” has a 62 Metacritic average, while the original “Despicable Me” scored a 72.
The list of films shows more than ever how May is increasingly becoming part of the summer movie season – we had to toss out the highest-grossing film of the year so far, “Iron Man 3,” because it came out May 3.
So now does the release of the historical drama “The Butler,” starring Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, and a host of actors as various American presidents, mean it’s Oscar season?
At San Diego Comic-Con, Marvel Studios came prepared with buzzworthy news and footage to share, but it was the end of their presentation that delivered the biggest surprise. The Avengers writer and director Joss Whedon took to the stage to unveil a teaser and the official logo for the highly anticipated sequel to his record-breaking superhero team-up and few in the audience were expecting it.
What was shown preceding The Avengers: Age of Ultron title card was footage of an Iron Man armored suit transforming into Ultron, the villainous robot and one of Earth’s Mightiest’s greatest foes. Little did we know that the voice and face of that character would be James Spader.
The man who played Dr. Daniel Jackson in the original Stargate film and more recently had a starring role in the latter seasons of The Office, also having worked with Disney in Steven Spielberg’s Oscar nominated Lincoln, is going to play the primary antagonist of The Avengers: Age of Ultron.
The news comes directly from Marvel who are continuing to embrace a trend of utilizing their own brand to promote internal news and the official casting is the second for The Avengers sequel having happily confirmed that Robert Downey Jr. had signed for both currently-planned Avengers sequels a few months earlier.
With Age of Ultron not beginning to shoot until next year, the timing of the casting announcement months before Thor: The Dark World hits theaters and while Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy is curious, if not timely. For the last week, headlines from both Disney-Marvel and rival studio Warner Bros./DC Entertainment have focused on high profile casting, with Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper and Elizabeth Olsen having been confirmed to be in talks with Marvel while Ben Affleck was officially announced to take on the iconic role of Batman in the Man of Steel sequel.
Since Affleck is official and the other Marvel-associated names are not, perhaps Marvel is attempting to turn the buzz back towards them with an official announcement of their own regarding their highest profile and most bankable upcoming project.
With a commanding voice and onscreen presence, coupled with his unique mannerisms, Spader is an unusual yet inspired choice. Yet, looking at his facial expression in the image from NBCs upcoming series The Blacklist above, Whedon made an appropriate and exciting selection. Our theories of Iron Man’s AI assistance Jarvis going rogue and the voice of the character (Paul Bettany) getting a chance to play Ultron is at least partly not going to be the case.
We know Spader… Ultron is going to be a source of great pain and conflict for The Avengers and it’s becoming increasingly likely that one (or more?) of the heroes may not make it out alive. Who will die? Did Tony Stark create James Spader as his deadliest creation? Should the film be renamed The Avengers: Age of James Spader to better fit Whedon’s entirely new origin story for the character?
Rob Keyes blogs at Screen Rant.