Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One is one of the coolest pop culture mash-ups ever, setting up a future where most live in a virtual reality universe that features literally anything and everything you could possibly imagine from movies, TV, video games and more, mostly from the 80’s and now the king of the 80’s, Steven Spielberg, is bring the book to life for the movie adaptation. Tye Sheridan stars as Wade Watts, who goes by the VR handle Parzival in OASIS, the virtual reality world created by James Halliday (Mark Rylance). When Halliday dies, he leaves behind an Easter Egg hunt inside OASIS where the first person to unravel all the clues will be given master control of OASIS to do with as they wish. The evil corporate forces led by Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) want to take over and exploit OASIS and the race is on between them and the kids like Wade and his love interest Art3mis (Olivia Cooke). This first trailer sets up the world but then just goes all in on awesome insanity and shout outs to Freddy Krueger, The Iron Giant, Back to the Future, Akira and more. The movie is out on March 30 next year and you can check out the teaser below.
The third entry in the new rebooted series and the sixth movie overall in the X-Men franchise, X-Men: Apocalypse is a solid summer blockbuster with some cool, fun moments but it never really does anything to push it past the level of “OK”.
Set in the 80’s, Charles Xavier’s (James McAvoy) school is full of young mutants learning to control their powers, with the most recent arrivals being Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan) and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee). Scott instantly becomes interested in Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), who is dealing with psychic powers that make her potentially the most powerful mutant in the world. Meanwhile, an ancient mutant, Apocalypse (Oscar Issac), is uncovered from his ancient tomb and proceeds to recruit a quartet of mutant “horsemen” to help him wipe the slate clean on Earth and start over in his image. One of his horsemen is Magneto (Michael Fassbender), who has suffered a tragic loss while in hiding as steel mill worker in Poland. Despite the potentially end of the world threat, there’s a distinct lack of tension throughout most of Apocalypse, especially compared to Days of Future Past, where you saw the consequences of what would happen if the younger X-Men failed in their mission. Apocalypse is just not a great villain, despite the efforts of Oscar Issac, whose casting is just baffling as he’s unrecognizable both visually and vocally. You never really get a true sense of Apocalypse’s power, as the main ability he uses is teleportation and matte shifting, neither of which seems like an extinction level power. Even when his plan is put into motion, it’s not really that interesting visually or plot wise.
Apocalypse is jam packed with mutants both old and new but the problem is that, there are so many, no one really gets a chance to make an impact. The main quartet of Beast, Mystique, Charles and Magneto are still great but they hit the same beats they’ve hit in the last two movies (something tragic happens to Magneto, he vows revenge, for instance). The new younger mutants are OK but no one is really a stand out, except maybe Jean based on what happens during the climax but that is more setup for another movie. Nightcrawler gets some cool moments but nothing up to the level of the opening White House assault from X2. Some of the hyped new characters, like Jubilee, don’t even get involved in the final battle or use their powers. The new villains like Psylocke and Angel also barely register (As I thought, it feels like Psylocke is just Olivia Munn cosplaying, she has no character whatsoever) Evan Peters is still the MVP after his scene stealing role in Days of Future Past and Quicksilver is more involved this time around and has another just incredible slow motion action sequence where he is rescuing people from an exploding building while “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” by the Eurythmics plays. There’s also an excellent and brutal cameo from Wolverine (which was hinted at in the final trailer), but if you were looking for an explanation of what Mystique did with him at the end of Days of Future Past, that is pretty blatantly left unexplained in what is another of this franchise’s continuity issues. Speaking of continuity, as fun as the 80’s setting is, things are really starting to get noticeably ridiculous in the decade jumping of each film. Rose Byrne’s Moira McTaggert makes a welcome return from First Class and Charles makes a comment that she looks like she hasn’t aged a day and then you remember, “oh yeah, it’s supposed to be 20 effing years since he saw her last”. I definitely wouldn’t want the cast in old person makeup but it’s just another thing to add to the bizarre way time works in this franchise.
The core characters of Magneto, Xavier, Mystique and Beast still work and provide the structural support for this new trilogy but everything else about Apocalypse is just solid enough but not exceptional, although there are some standout sequences. In a year that brought us Deadpool, Captain America: Civil War and even the insane mess of Batman v Superman, just being solid feels kind of disappointing.
A Deparated TV show is in the works: Producer Roy Lee, who produced the film The Departed, is looking to transfer the Boston crime drama to the small screen “in the vein of FX’s Fargo”. It’s extremely early so no word on plot, stars or network are available.
Bill Paxton starring in Training Day series: CBS is developing a new series based on Training Day and Bill Paxton will take over for Denzel in the “morally compromised, older cop” role, who will be taking on a younger rookie cop, who producers are looking for currently.
RIP Tony Burton: Actor Tony Burton passed away this week at age 78. Burton was best known for playing Duke in the Rocky series, serving as Apollo Creed’s trainer before helping Rocky in Rocky IV after Apollo’s death.
Iron Fist cast for Netflix series: Finn Jones has been cast as Danny Rand, Marvel’s resident martial arts expert for his upcoming solo series on Netflix. Finn is probably best known right now for playing Loras Tyrell on Game of Thrones.
The Mist TV series coming to Spike: Stephen King’s The Mist is getting adapted again with a new series coming to Spike. The network has ordered a pilot and Dimension Television is behind the series with executive producer Christian Thorpe.
Lord & Miller developing a time travel comedy for Fox: The comedic directing duo already have Last Man on Earth and the upcoming animation/live action hybrid Son of Zorn and now they are working on a third show called Making History, which will be a time travel comedy about three friends who stumble across a way to go back in time but they end up making things much more complicated for themselves in the present. Adam Pally of Happy Endings will star.
More casting for Riverdale: The CW’s take on Archie has cast it’s main character along with some more supporting roles. KJ Apa will star as Archie Andrews, Ashleigh Murray will play Josie, lead singer of Josie and the Pussycats, Madelaine Petsch will play Cheryl Blossom and Luke Perry will play Archie’s dad, Fred. Greg Berlanti is producing the show.
Tye Sheridan starring in Ready Player One: Sheridan will play Wade Watts, who is one of the many players trying to track down the easter eggs left in the massive online VR world Oasis by it’s creator, James Halliday, and the first person to find all the clues will be given control of Oasis and Halliday’s fortune. Steven Spielberg is directing and Olivia Cooke and Ben Mendelsohn are also cast currently.
Michael B. Jordan starring in a new Thomas Crown Affair: The Creed star will star in the third version of the Thomas Crown Affair after the Steve McQueen original and the Pierce Brosnan remake. Jordan will play the main character, who is a millionaire who pulls elaborate heists for fun and meets a beautiful insurance adjustor that is investigating his crimes.
Teddy Sears joins 24: Legacy: The Flash’s Jay Garrick will head from Star Labs to CTU as Teddy Sears joins Corey Hawkins and Miranda Otto on the upcoming reboot of 24. Sears will play the new head of CTU, who was replaced Miranda Otto’s character.
Steven S. DeKnight is directing Pacific Rim 2: Possibly because he has a dozen other things on his plate, Guillermo Del Toro has stepped away from directing Pacific Rim 2 and Legendary has hired Daredevil and Spartacus showrunner Steven S. DeKnight to direct the sequel. GDT will still be producing the movie and it will be DeKnight’s feature film debut directing.
NBC’s Powerless series gets it’s cast: Set in an insurance office in the DC comics universe, NBC’s upcoming comedy has cast Danny Pudi, Alan Tudyk, Vanessa Hudgens and Christina Kirk as it’s main cast. NBC is developing the pilot right now.
JCVD starring in Amazon pilot Jean Claude Van Johnson: Van Damme will star in a comedy/action pilot on Amazon called Jean Claude Van Johnson, which on the show is Van Damme’s actual identity as a mercenary/assassin and his movie career has just been a front to allow him to travel the world to complete contracts.
New details on Marvel’s Most Wanted: The Agents of SHIELD spin-off featuring Adrianne Palicki and Nick Blood got a more detailed plot synopsis this week and it seems like something will happen on SHIELD that puts Bobbi Morse and Lance Hunter on the run with no help from SHIELD and they make an uneasy alliance with Delroy Lindo’s Dominic Fortune, a rogue adventurer with a vast fortune and resources. It basically sounds like a Marvel version of Burn Notice.
Clive Standen starring in Taken prequel series: The Vikings co-star will star as the younger Bryan Mills, played in the movie trilogy by Liam Neeson, in the upcoming prequel series to Taken. There’s not a lot of other details about the series and it’s not clear if Standen will leave Vikings for this show but things are definitely being set up on the current Vikings series that would put him potentially on the business end of his brother Ragnar’s axe.
Serious Nicolas Cage seems to show up less and less these days but he was surprisingly restrained in last year’s true crime drama, The Frozen Ground, and sometime this year he’ll play the titular character of David Gordon Green’s latest movie. Green is back to indie drama after fooling around with his pals James Franco and Danny McBride on movies like Pineapple Express, Your Highness and Eastbound & Down and Cage stars as ex-con Joe, who is trying to lay low and make a living logging when he forms a unique friendship with a young boy (Tye Sheridan) who joins the logging company. Backwoods villains and abusive fathers are some of the things threatening to unleash Joe’s contained rage. The movie hit a bunch of festivals last year and Cage got tons of praise for his performance. There’s no solid US release date yet but it should hit sometime later this year. You can check out the trailer below.