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Tag Archive: Benedict Cumberbatch


Today we have three fall movies to preview, one from a film long-completed and scheduled to arrive in theaters way back in 2017, another a new look at an old property, and a third featuring a modern crime story about a tough cop.  First up is The Current War, a film we first previewed here at borg way back in January 13, 2018.  Movie studios have fallout, collateral damage–call it what you like– from industry shifts, whether cancelations following mergers or projects braking during sex scandals.  The latter was the reason for the initial delays for The Current War, a late production of The Weinstein Company.  The star factor is nothing to sneeze at, with a slate of stars now popular for their superhero roles leading the way:  Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange) plays Thomas Alva Edison, Michael Shannon (Man of Steel) is George Westinghouse, Nicholas Hoult (X-Men franchise) is Nikola Tesla, and Tom Holland (Marvel Cinematic Universe) is Samuel Insull, an early General Electric co-founder.  Will this film electrify audiences or were the delays a sign it’s going to have a rough go of it?  The earliest we’ll know is October, when it finally arrives in theaters.

Raise your hand if you loved the first reboot movie adaptation of the 1970s-1980s TV classic series Charlie’s Angels?  No?  That one starred Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, and Lucy Liu.  Unfortunately it was more parody than homage, more wacky than the action drama that made the original such a success with audiences 40 years ago.  Another reboot is on its way, titled again Charlie’s Angels, and somehow this version with its next generation of film stars and removal of melodrama and humor at first blush seems to have more in common with the original.  It stars a very upbeat styled Kristen Stewart (Twilight series) plus newcomer Ella Balinska and Naomi Scott (Power Rangers, Aladdin).  The credits circulating so far list a slate of actors playing Bosley, including the film’s director Elizabeth Banks (Brightburn, Hunger Games series), Patrick Stewart (Star Trek Nemesis), and Djimon Hounsou (Captain Marvel).  Weren’t we just talking about this movie Wednesday?

And last for today is Black and Blue, another October 2019 release, starring James Bond’s Moneypenny, Naomie Harris, as a British rookie cop caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.  The trailer for this film looks like a lot of 1980s cop movies, which might be a good thing.  As with the other films previewed today, look for even more actors in tis film from the superhero spheres, including Luke Cage’s Mike Colter and Captain America: Winter Soldier’s Frank Grillo, plus Fast & Furious regular Tyrese Gibson.

So let’s check out these new trailers:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

After 21 movies and a decade of superheroics, the end arrived this weekend with Marvel StudiosAvengers: Endgame, already setting new box office records.  Nearly every seat at multiple screenings at my local theater was sold out this weekend, as was the case across the country.  Which means many have seen it, but even more haven’t. You can’t review a film without some details, so if you haven’t seen it yet, do yourself a favor: bookmark this and come back later.  The short version: If you’re a superhero fan and you’ve followed the previous entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you won’t want to miss it.  But re-watch both Avengers: Infinity War and Captain Marvel first.  I’ve no idea how anyone will follow the events in the film without first seeing at least these two films.  Endgame is a good wrap-up to the first major story arc in the franchise and a fine segue into the future of the films.  But it’s not perfect (what ever is?) and I’m going to walk through some goods and bads from the film.

That means “there be spoilers ahead” so consider yourself forewarned if you continue.

Note to email subscribers: Clicking on the link will take you into the full review.

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With Amazon Studios releasing a new, full-length trailer for its six-part series Good Omens, showrunner Neil Gaiman discussed his creative process for the book and the show at this weekend’s South by Southwest (SXSW 2019) conference and festival in Austin, Texas.  Check out his panel interview below, with Gaiman discussing the series and his creative process.  Gaiman co-wrote the novel Good Omens on which the series is based with Terry Pratchett way back in 1989.  Pratchett passed away in 2015, and now, led by Gaiman’s efforts, twenty-nine years after its creation the book is on its way to a TV adaptation later this spring.

In Good Omens the end of the world is coming, and opposite personalities in the form of an Angel and Demon are brought together to form an unlikely alliance to stop Armageddon.  They have lost the Antichrist, an 11-year-old boy unaware he’s meant to bring upon the end of days, sending the pair to find him and save the world before… The End.  The series combines the talents of Douglas Mackinnon, who directed episodes of Sherlock and Doctor Who, and it stars David Tennant (Doctor Who, Jessica Jones, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Viva Blackpool) and Michael Sheen (Passengers, Doctor Who, Tron: Legacy, Frost/Nixon, Alice in Wonderland).  Other big names appearing in the series include Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, The Hobbit, Star Trek Into Darkness), Jon Hamm (Baby Driver), Miranda Richardson (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Muppets Most Wanted), Mark Gatiss (Sherlock), Michael McKean (Clue, Laverne and Shirley), David Morrissey (Doctor Who, The Walking Dead), Frances McDormand (Fargo, Three Billboards, Isle of Dogs), and Brian Cox (Shetland, RED, Doctor Who).

First, take a look at the new full-length trailer for the series, followed by the discussion with Neil Gaiman this weekend at SXSW 2019, and a brief behind-the-scenes featurette:

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Audiences don’t know what exactly Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye was up to during the events of Avengers: Infinity War, but the first trailer for the next installment in the Marvel Studios saga shows that he–not surprisingly–is making his return.  The big news is Marvel taking a reference from one of the last lines of Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange for the title of the April 2019 release, revealing Avengers: Endgame as the title of the final chapter of Phase III of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  And despite the loss of Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang aka Ant-Man at the post-credits scene in Ant-Man and The Wasp, somehow he’s back, too, as revealed in the trailer.

Marvel isn’t showing much–a good thing–about the next film, but they begin by teasing the death of Iron Man.  The big question for fans of the franchise will be “who lives and who dies?” at the end of Avengers: Endgame, since the studio already released information about future film releases with the cast of Spider-Man back next summer in Spider-Man: Far From Home and Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3 planned for 2020.

This comes on the heels of the television version of the Marvel universe closing its doors at Netflix, as Disney/Marvel announced it is pulling the plug on fan-favorite series Luke Cage and Daredevil, plus Iron Fist and more expected to be announced after the release of final seasons of Jessica Jones and The Punisher, which were already in production when the announcements started to roll out.

Check out this first trailer for Avengers: Endgame:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

This month Marvel is celebrating the first ten years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a look back at the first three phases of the films in a new hardcover book, Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years With the March 2019 release of Captain Marvel the official fourth phase of the MCU will begin.  With that shift to a new era quickly approaching, as well as an uncertain future thanks to the imminent completion of the acquisition of the X-Men characters, and the 10-year benchmark, it’s a good time to assess all Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige was able to pull together beginning way back when we first saw Robert Downey, Jr. don the Iron Man armor for the first time.  This nostalgic trip back over the past decade will be published by Titan in conjunction with Marvel.

Readers will find interviews with Feige, co-president Louis D’Esposito, Stan Lee, Jon Favreau, Kenneth Branagh, Anthony and Joe Russo, James Gunn, Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jeremy Renner, Paul Rudd, Mark Ruffalo, Chadwick Boseman, Evangeline Lilly, Karen Gillan, Don Cheadle, Sebastian Stan, Gwyneth Paltrow, William Hurt, and Josh Brolin.  Multi-page sections focus on each of the 22 films in the series.  High-quality color photographs accompany the discussion of each film in chronological order, most with behind-the-scenes images, like a great image of all the parts to Ant-Man’s helmet laid out on a table.

Fascinating discussion points include D’Esposito pointing out how the produces intentionally made each new film a different genre, not just a superhero movie.  He also indicates that casting Robert Downey, Jr. was the most important casting decision of the franchise.  Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn talks about using the soundtracks on set for everyone to get the feel of the two Guardians movies.  The book even provides some preview information for next year’s Captain Marvel movie.  And there are several Easter eggs that most fans will have never read about anywhere else, often 10 or more for each film (the Collector and the Grandmaster are brothers?).  Here are a few pages from Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Ten years in the making.  Eighteen movies leading up to this weekend in the gigantic new blockbuster, Avengers: Infinity War.  Never before have superhero fans seen so many superheroes on-screen at once:  Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Spider-man (Tom Holland), Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Vision (Paul Bettany), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Falcon (Anthony Mackey), Heimdall (Idris Elba), Nebula (Karen Gillan), Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Okoye (Danai Gurira), Wong (Benedict Wong), Shuri (Letitia Wright), Drax (Dave Bautista), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel), Mantis (Pom Klementieff), and Star-Lord (Chris Pratt).

So many movies, especially superhero movies, depend greatly on the success of the villains.  Spider-man: Homecoming is great in part because of Michael Keaton’s Vulture.  Black Panther is great in part because of Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger.  And Thor: Ragnarok was great in part because of a load of solid villains: the CGI-created Surtur, Cate Blanchett’s Hela, and Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster (and even a great supporting tier of antagonists including Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie, Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, and Karl Urban’s Skurge).  So now, at last, Josh Brolin moves past his cameos in Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers: Age of Ultron to give us a big dose of one of comic books’ best-known villains, Thanos.

Marvel Studios promised to tie everything together, including every magical talisman holding the six Infinity Stones, of which filmgoers have encountered five so far: The blue Space Stone (seen held in the Tesseract in Captain America: The First Avenger), the yellow Mind Stone (seen in the Scepter in The Avengers), the red Reality Stone (seen held in the Aether in Thor: The Dark World), the purple Power Stone (seen in the Orb in Guardians of the Galaxy), and the green Time Stone (seen in the Eye of Agamotto in Doctor Strange).  

So did directors Anthony and Joe Russo deliver as promised? Continue reading

Review by C.J. Bunce

When next surfing your next adventure on Netflix, fans of seafaring stories will want to make sure they save some time for the 2005 television mini-series To the Ends of the Earth, one of the best accounts of the brutal, nasty, ignoble, and vile side of life in the early 19th century.  In what would be a relatively simple flight across continents today on a jet plane was a life-risking venture on the high seas in 1812, as a young British aristocrat named Edmund Talbot travels by a converted ex-warship to Australia, and learns more about social positions, decency, military discipline, and character than he contemplated when he booked his voyage into politics around the globe.  As with the recently reviewed series The Terror, To the Ends of the Earth is a grimy, authentic look at life below deck for the several tiers of passengers (a mirror of British society) in a classic man-of-war.   But where the production for The Terror looks gorgeously historic, it’s the stench that seems to permeate this tale in a way unmatched by The Terror, the A&E Horatio Hornblower series, Master and Commander: To the Far Side of the World, or Kenneth Brannagh’s Shackleton. 

Sometimes just plain gross, but never in a gratuitous way, To the Ends of the Earth is a smartly written story in the same serial delivery as the Hornblower series, this one three 90-minute chapters for a total of 4.5 hours.  Based on a trilogy of novels from the 1980s by Nobel Prize-winning Lord of the Flies author William Golding, for fans of modern film and modern takes on Sherlock Holmes, the series is a great, early pairing of the BBC’s Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch, and the big screen Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadow’s Moriarty, Jared Harris.  Although his fictional story is less popular an his voyage less memorable, Harris elevates his layered Captain Anderson to a naval leader comparable to Forester’s Pellew and Foster and O’Brian’s Aubrey (and a comparison of his captain then to his The Terror captain 15 years later is also worth the watch).  A younger Cumberbatch also shows his acting chops and foreshadows his later rise in filmdom, carrying each scene for nearly the entirety of the series’ 4.5 hours as the show’s tour guide, Talbot.

Flies.  Rotted food.  The stench of the wounded and the dying in close quarters.  The constant rocking of the ship, inability to walk, or sit, or drink, or sleep without getting sick, wet clothes, rashes, injuries, preparing for battle, losing men overboard–this film stinks (well, almost) like no other, and thankfully without the addition of Smell-o-vision.  Add to that being lost, the uncertainty of ever landing anywhere, distrust, embarrassment, mutinous types, savvy sailors and poor sailors, alcohol, drugs, sex, and no doctor or surgeon in sight for six months.  Oh, the good ol’ days, right?  We must take the books’ author and the studio’s word for it as to true authenticity, but the costumes and treatment of the human condition seems completely spot-on.  Thomas Hobbes’ life outside society as “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” has hardly been more plainly laid out.

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Ten years in the planning.  Eighteen movies.  All of it the brainchild of master Marvel universe coordinator Kevin Feige.  Yet it’s still only halfway through the third act or Phase III of the grand Marvel Cinematic Universe saga.  Marvel Studios has promised to tie everything together, including every magical talisman holding the six Infinity Stones–in directors Anthony and Joe Russo’s Avengers: Infinity War, the first of a two-part story, originally divided into simply parts 1 and 2.  The studio released a new trailer this weekend explaining more about the plot, plus a new poster for the movie that somehow crams in every key hero that will be packed into the movie.  Call it a St. Patrick’s Day present for Marvel fans.

And that’s a roll call that includes headliners Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Spider-man (Tom Holland), Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Vision (Paul Bettany), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Falcon (Anthony Mackey), Nebula (Karen Gillan), Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Okoye (Danai Gurira), Wong (Benedict Wong), Shuri (Letitia Wright), Drax (Dave Bautista), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Rocket (Sean Gunn) and Groot (Terry Notary), Wasp (Evangeline Lilly), Mantis (Pom Klementieff), Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow), and Star-Lord (Chris Pratt).

Presumably the poster and trailer don’t tell all, so we’ll be looking for most of the support team to have an appearance, too, including Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), The Collector (Benicio del Toro) and Heimdall (Idris Elba)–both listed on the poster in fine print, Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Aunt Mae (Marisa Tomei), Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), and Happy (Jon Favreau).  And they will all face off against Thanos (Josh Brolin) and Black Order members/Thanos’s children: Ebony Maw (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor) and Cull Obsidian (Terry Notary) and two characters expected to be voiced by familiar, but as yet unnamed, actors: Corvus Glaive and Proxima Midnight.  And a new name: Peter Dinklage is listed at the bottom of the poster.  Who will he portray?

So check out this trailer where the Marvel Cinematic Universe–The Avengers, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, and the Guardians of the Galaxy–come together in one film: Avengers: Infinity War: Continue reading

   

Later this year classic characters from three well-known children’s stories will return in theatrical adaptations.   A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh and friends will return in Christopher Robin.  Deja vu?  Don’t confuse this with last year’s film Goodbye, Christopher Robin, which starred Margot Robbie, Domhnall Gleeson, and Kelly Macdonald This new film actually features Winnie the Pooh and friends, along with a great cast of genre favorites: Ewan McGregor (Star Wars series, Brassed Off), Mark Gatiss (Sherlock, Doctor Who) and Hayley Atwell (Marvel Cinematic Universe), and voicing the classic characters, Jim Cummings (Pooh), Peter Capaldi (Rabbit), Toby Jones (Owl), and Brad Garrett (Eeyore).  The film is directed by Marc Forster (Quantum of Solace).

The Grinch is back in a third major film incarnation from Dr. Seuss’s original book How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  This time Benedict Cumberbatch replaces the voice of the big Christmas baddie made famous by Boris Karloff in 1966 and reprised by Jim Carrey in 2000.  This version is titled Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch.  This animated version incorporates current digital technology to provide a very modern looking update.  The trailer looks great.

And also for Christmas Mary Poppins is back in a sequel to the original 1964 classic that starred Julie Andrews as Mary and Dick Van Dyke as Bert the chimney sweep and bank president Mr. Dawes.  Emily Blunt (Edge of Tomorrow, The Huntsman: Winter’s War) takes on the lead role in Mary Poppins Returns, co-starring Meryl Streep (The Post), Colin Firth (The Kings’ Speech), Angela Lansbury (Murder, She Wrote), Emily Mortimer (Hugo, The Kid), David Warner (Tron, Time After Time), Ben Whishaw (James Bond franchise), Julie Walters (Harry Potter franchise), Lin-Manuel Miranda (Moana), and Dick Van Dyke, this time as Dawes, Jr.

Check out these previews for Christopher Robin, Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch, and Mary Poppins Returns:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

For Star Trek fans, since the 1990s the first place to look to dig into the artistry of the sets, props, and costumes was the book The Art of Star Trek, by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, the ultimate art reference for decades of Star Trek productions.  It explored the concept art and creative works from the original Trek series through the seventh film in the series, Star Trek Generations.  Herbert Solow’s Star Trek Sketchbook and John Eaves’ Star Trek The Movies Sketchbook supplemented these books further and in 2016 Terry Erdmann and Paula M. Block’s Star Trek Costumes honed in on an end-to-end look at costumes spanning the franchise up to that date.  In 2016 CBS re-branded the three most recent films “the Kelvin Timeline,” since the storyline splintered from the original series events beginning with the destruction of the USS Kelvin in the 2009 Star Trek film (formerly the “alternate reality” or J.J. Abrams trilogy).  Separate and different from typical “behind the scenes” books, the volume of Star Trek reference material (and the large fanbase) allowed for these many, detailed looks into the creative process.  Many of these books and much more can be found in our 2011 survey of Trek books found here and here.  Bringing us closer to the present, the first look into the artwork of the Kelvin timeline was Mark Cotta Vaz’s Star Trek: The Art of the Film and last year’s Star Trek Beyond: The Makeup Artistry of Joel Harlow, but fans now have access to a broader look at the artwork behind all three Kelvin timeline movies: Star Trek (2009), Star Trek Into Darkness, and Star Trek Beyond, in Jeff Bond’s new book, The Art of Star Trek: The Kelvin Timeline.

Star Trek fans will find The Art of Star Trek: The Kelvin Timeline a must-read and a natural extension, or sequel of sorts, to Reeves-Stevens’ original art overview.  With chapters on each of the three films, expanding on the material from Cotta Vaz’s book, this new volume provides insight into the reboot and updates to the starship Enterprise, the bridge set, and Starfleet and alien costumes, and great attention is given to the concept art that resulted in the strange new worlds in these films.  Best of all is access to interviews with concept artists John Eaves, Ryan Church, James Clyne, John Goodson, Sean Hargreaves, visual effects supervisor Roger Guyett, visual effects art director Alex Jaeger, makeup supervisor Joel Harlow, production designer Scott Chambliss, supervising art director Ramsey Avery, creature designer Neville Page, art director Yanick Dusseault, production designer Thomas A. Sanders, visual effects supervisor Peter Chiang, Star Trek Beyond costume designer Sanja Hays, actors Zachary Quinto and Benedict Cumberbatch, and Star Trek Beyond director Justin Lin.  The artists’ environmental, planetary, and geological concept work in many instances is the quality of final production matte paintings.

Those who already have read Cotta Vaz’s book on the art of the 2009 film will be happy to see this book provides photographs and discussion of ideas not covered before.  Fans of Sanja Hays’ costume designs in Star Trek Insurrection get to see how Hays approached returning to the concepts of both Starfleet and aliens of new civilizations in Star Trek Beyond.  And although he is not interviewed for the book, costume designer Michael Kaplan’s costume designs can be found across the book’s coverage of the first two films.

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