Category: TV


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Review by C.J. Bunce

Some movies are exactly as advertised.  Count Jungle Cruise in that category.  And yet–it’s bigger and bolder and braver than you might have guessed from its trailers.  Comparisons to the likes of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Pirates of the Caribbean, Romancing the Stone, and African Queen are all completely warranted.  Jungle Cruise is a big, sweeping adventure–and visual amusement park ride–that draws out the best of stars Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt.  First previewed in autumn 2019, it’s another pandemic delay that has the scope and spectacle that would have made it the perfect box office hit in a normal year.  But at least now audiences can see what they’ve been missing as Jungle Cruise arrived this past weekend on the Disney Plus streaming service.

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Tick tick tick… It’s almost here: the premiere of season one of the live-action version of the anime series Cowboy Bebop And now we have a full-length trailer that leans harder into the sci-fi elements of the series.  It stars John Cho (Star Trek) as a Bruce Lee-inspired bounty hunter named Spike Spiegel, Mustafa Shakir (Luke Cage) as the show’s larger than life cyborg and former investigator Jet Black, Geoff Stults (Stargirl) as Jet’s former partner Chalmers, and Daniella Pineda (Jurassic World: Dominion) as bounty hunter Faye Valentine.  And a corgi (his name is Ein).  Imagine what Firefly would look like if directed by Quentin Tarantino, and you have Netflix’s 10-episode live-action series Cowboy Bebop

Check out another great trailer:

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Kingdom J

We’ve seen Netflix take this approach successfully with series like Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: Take a Netflix successful series and splice in a standalone episode to surprise and please the fanbase.  This time it’s for a series we pegged as one of the Top 40 of the past decade, the South Korean brilliant horror mash-up, KingdomTwo seasons of the series (the first reviewed here, the second reviewed here) have everything: a great historical drama, royal family betrayals, medieval action, pandemic politics, and zombie horror, all supported across a giant, beautiful Korean landscape.  Kingdom isn’t what you’d think of as K-drama, at least not your typical romance heavy fantasy.  This month Netflix is surprising its viewers with what it calls a “sidequel,” a feature-length movie about a fringe character that arrived in the second season.  Check out a preview and images from Kingdom: Ashin of the North, below:

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We’re running down several trailers released to start off San Diego Comic-Con this week.  One trailer defines what Comic-Con is all about, as Stan Lee looks at the Netflix series based on his creations.  The best trailer is Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water, the fantasy director’s next monster movie, this time featuring his own take on the Creature from the Black Lagoon.  Another good trailer is what plays out as a commercial for the giant robot “Jaegers” in a first look at the sequel Pacific Rim: Uprising, including star John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Attack the Block).  Below you’ll also find trailers for Kingsman: The Golden Circle, The LEGO Ninjago Movie, Natalie Portman in Planetarium, and the fantasy world version of the AlienNation buddy cop trope, Netflix’s Bright, starring Will Smith and Joel Edgerton.

We’re also including several trailers from the past week to get you caught up.  These include A Wrinkle in Time, Mary Poppins Returns, Blade Runner 2049, a teaser for The Incredibles 2 (sort of), and a Blu-ray preview for Gifted starring Chris Evans.

So let’s get started with The Shape of Water:

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Bebop pic

Running for 26 episodes between 1999 and 2001, the future noir anime series Cowboy Bebop arrived as an instant classic for the medium that many have called the greatest anime of all time, a Japanese sci-fi Western three years before Firefly.  Imagine what Firefly would look like if directed by Quentin Tarantino, and you have the new teaser-trailer for Netflix’s 10-episode live-action series Cowboy Bebop, coming in 30 days. 

bEBOP SHIP

It has the style and the throwback vibe of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. as well as a cool soundtrack, and comic book-style scene-change pan slides with the characters participating in the movement.  The series stars John Cho (Star Trek) as a Bruce Lee-inspired bounty hunter named Spike Spiegel, Mustafa Shakir (Luke Cage) as the show’s larger than life cyborg and former investigator Jet Black, Geoff Stults (Stargirl) as Jet’s former partner Chalmers, and Daniella Pineda (Jurassic World: Dominion) as bounty hunter Faye Valentine.  And a corgi (his name is Ein).

You don’t want to miss the teaser and opening credits–take a look at both below.

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It’s easy to argue that the very best part of George Lucas’s Star Wars prequels was Darth Maul.  All of his scenes in The Phantom Menace and especially his “Duel of the Fates” with Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi were spectacular, a cut above the rest of the three films, thanks in no small part to the physical prowess (and facial expressions) of actor Ray Park.  The lightsaber scene is still unsurpassed as the best Jedi-Sith duel of all eleven Star Wars films.  Yet, as we learned for the third time this past December, just because someone knocks you down a vast Imperial chasm, it doesn’t mean you’re actually dead (we should have learned this lesson from Luke in The Empire Strikes Back).  The animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars resurrected Maul, first as a rebuilt man with robotic legs in season four (an amnesiac found on a “junkyard” planet like where Rey is later seen), then upgraded with more human-like cyborg legs.  Maul will return in a new 12-episode seventh season, voiced again by Sam Witwer, where he will have a rematch with The Clone Wars heroine Ahsoka Tano, former Padawan of Anakin Skywalker.  Maul will again be portrayed by Ray Park, this time using motion capture for the animation.

Somebody at Disney must know we love Darth Maul (we’re thinking The Clone Wars original director Dave Filoni, back again for this final season) because of Maul’s return in Solo: A Star Wars Story, revealed in the film’s climax as the ultimate villain behind the curtain.  Was Emilia Clarke’s Qi-ra intended to be Maul’s Sith student?  Was she about to be?  Will we ever find out?  Oddly enough, we didn’t/couldn’t learn the answer because the film Solo was made toward the end of Star Wars Rebels, which ended its run years after the events in Solo, although it takes place before the events in Solo.  What we do know is Darth Maul is still around for Star Wars Rebels, where he tricks the young series lead Ezra into being his student, and ultimately Daul dies at the hands of… Obi-Wan Kenobi, who is hiding Luke on Tatooine, something that could also be addressed in the forthcoming, yet-to-be-titled Obi-Wan Kenobi live-action series.  Confused yet?  This ordering might help:

  • The Phantom Menace
  • Attack of the Clones
  • The Clone Wars
  • Revenge of the Sith
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story
  • Star Wars Rebels
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  • Star Wars/A New Hope
  • The Empire Strikes Back
  • Return of the Jedi
  • The Mandalorian
  • The Force Awakens
  • The Last Jedi
  • The Rise of Skywalker

Understanding The Clone Wars’ other fan-favorite character, Ahsoka Tano, voiced again by Ashley Eckstein, pretty much requires another viewing of both The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels to get fully caught up.  Originally she was destined to die at the hands of her Jedi Master, Anakin aka Vader, but then in Star Wars Rebels there was some time travel and parallel world business that prevented her death, plus the return of Emperor Palpatine… even before The Rise of Skywalker.  Tano is considered by many fans to be one of the strongest heroines of the Star Wars saga (along with Leia Organa, Jyn Erso and Rey), appearing in a number of novels and comics outside the TV series.  Her spirit voice can be heard in the battle between Rey and Palpatine in The Rise of Skywalker, where fans learned she must have died off-screen sometime before the events in that film.

First disclosed at San Diego Comic-Con last summer, Disney/Lucasfilm is bringing 12 new episodes of The Clone Wars to pay streaming channel Disney+ beginning next month.  The series appears to follow the older, original series animation style versus the updated, more realistic characters and environments of Star Wars Rebels.  Here’s the first trailer for the series, followed by an earlier preview:

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How did this become horror update week?

Fans of the Friday the 13th series will want to take note of the most comprehensive set of franchise films and features yet available.  All twelve films from the series–beginning with the 1980 classic through the 2009 reboot and including, for fans of all things borg, the cyborg Jason Voorhees in Jason X–are all collected on 16 Blu-rays in the Friday the 13th Collection–Deluxe Edition arriving before Halloween. The collection is housed in a “rigid slipcase” and will be accompanied by an exclusive, limited edition 36″ x 24″ lithograph featuring new artwork from artist Devon Whitehead, and an exclusive, limited edition 24″ x 36″ Friday The 13th 40th Anniversary poster featuring new artwork from artist Joel Robinson (both shipped rolled, not folded).  Only launching this past weekend, the lithograph/poster set was first limited to 1,313 units, which has now been expanded to 7,000 units (available via Shout! Factory website sales only).  The appeal for fans who have purchased prior versions is in the extras: All of the previously released extras are included plus all-new bonus materials, including new audio commentaries with cast and crew.

Check out all the details and how to get your hands on this set below.

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Hawkeye Kate

After Jeremy Renner’s good guy Clint Barton was converted to bad guy in the 2012 MCU Avengers movie, it seemed like there was nowhere for the character to go but down.  Already merely a Green Arrow knockoff (who, in turn, was inspired by Robin Hood), the least interesting Avenger ultimately was relegated to lawless, one-note assassin status by the Endgame finale.  That was the Avenger on the big screen.  What the movie studio missed and is at last catching up to is what was happening in the comics pages while Avengers was in theaters.  Enter writer Matt Fraction and artist David Aja, who tapped some of the better elements from DC Comics’ Green Arrow comic book series and suddenly Hawkeye became interesting in the comics.

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But what would become a multiple Eisner-winning comic wasn’t just about Clint Barton.  The next Disney+ Marvel series is coming this Christmas, and it’s bringing the even better character from Fraction and Aja’s comic book series forward, revealed in a first preview that looks like we may finally get a Disney+ Marvel series as good as the Marvel movies.  They even got the logo and Matt Hollingsworth’s color scheme right.  Check out the first trailer for Hawkeye below.

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A year after he directed an adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn, Alfred Hitchcock would direct his adaptation of an even more memorable du Maurier novel, Rebecca His 1940 film would be the only Hitchcock film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.  It is a Hollywood classic, a perfect Gothic romance masterpiece starring Joan Fontaine as the mousey Cinderella-esque Mrs. de Winter, opposite Laurence Olivier as the controlling but dashing Maxim de Winter.  There’s a dark secret at Maxim’s sprawling estate called Manderley.  The great future dame Judith Anderson played Mrs. Danvers, creating one of those screen villains in that club of scary, loathsome manipulators that includes The Wicked Witch of the West, Maleficent, Dolores Umbridge, Mrs. Emerson, and Nurse Ratched.  Now 80 years later, relatively unknown director Ben Wheatley (Doctor Who, Free Fire) is bringing his own adaptation to Netflix next month.  So who is being cast in the key roles this time?

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