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Tag Archive: Sam Spruell


Filmed on location in Scotland, a 14th century biopic is coming to Netflix in November.  Chris Pine is turning from Jack Ryan and Captain Kirk to Robert the Bruce, the legendary King of Scots, a national hero of Scotland and one of the most famous characters of Scotland’s history, revered to this day for regaining Scotland’s independence from England in 1314.  Netflix released its first trailer for the film, Outlaw King, which will premiere at the Toronto Film Festival next month, and see a limited theatrical release before airing on the streaming service.

If you think it looks like Braveheart, that makes sense.  The films cover common territory and events–Angus Macfadyen played Robert the Bruce in Braveheart opposite Mel Gibson’s William Wallace.  Wallace will not be a key player in Outlaw King.  This film covers the low points in Robert’s battles during 1298 to 1306 and his initial victory against England.  Spoiler?  Nope, you can’t spoil an event in the history books that happened 700 years ago.

Director David Mackenzie (Hell or High Water) returns to direct Pine in this story based on actual events, which also stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Avengers: Age of Ultron, Kick-Ass), Florence Pugh (The Commuter), Stephen Dillane (Darkest Hour, Game of Thrones), Tony Curran (Doctor Who, Thor: The Dark World), Alastair Mackenzie (Monarch of the Glen), James Cosmo (Shetland, The Chronicles of Narnia, Braveheart), Callan Mulvey (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Captain America: The Winter Soldier), Sam Spruell (Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Snow White and the Huntsman), and a large Scottish supporting cast and production team.

Get your kilt.  Here’s the first trailer for Chris Pine in Outlaw King:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

This weekend sci-fi and fantasy fans finally get to see French director Luc Besson’s singular vision decades in the planning as Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets arrives in theaters.  An adaptation of the fifty-year-old, popular, French comic book series Valerian and Laureline, the film delivers in a magnificent, grandiose way only Besson could deliver.  As with his sci-fi classic The Fifth Element, Besson–who also directed Lucy, The Professional, and La Femme Nikita–has added another genre-defining film to the list of must-see sci-fi movies.  If there’s any criticism due, it may be that the film in places is too much like The Fifth Element, but where Valerian falls short, it makes up for it with wall to wall action and alien creations that look nothing like anything Hollywood has ever produced.  It’s rounded out with spectacular production design by Hugues Tissandier (Lucy, Taken, The Transporter) and a riveting score by composer Alexandre Desplat (The Golden Compass, Argo, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows).

  • Best use of 3D cinematography in a movie to date?  Check.
  • Best visual depiction of strange new worlds and new alien life in a film to date?  Check.
  • Best hold-onto-your-seats spaceship rides through these strange new places?  Check.

Credit Besson, WETA Digital, Industrial Light and Magic, and hundreds of other visual effects, special effects, make-up, costume and prop creators–Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets looks like nothing you’ve seen.  Combine 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner, and The Fifth Element, and you’ll have an idea of Besson’s big screen epic filled with all sorts of wonderful images.

Valerian is a snapshot of a day in progress in the life of two cocky space pilots.  The leads are two attractive, snarky and sassy, young and very modern, would-be lovers in a typical “will they or won’t they” set up–Valerian, played by Dane DeHaan (The Amazing Spider-man 2, True Blood), and Laureline, played by model-turned-actress Cara Delevingne (Suicide Squad, Anna Karenina).  Besson peppers the landscape of the big action sequences with the bare threads of their relationship, showing us if their relationship has room to be anything else beyond mere partners.  Beyond their through-line is a race to uncover the mystery behind an Avatar-inspired race of willowy peacelovers ravaged by war.  How are they related to a vision seen by Valerian, and are these peaceful people really the good guys or the bad guys?  But most of the time Valerian and the City of Thousand Planets is a non-stop rollercoaster ride as the leads assemble clues and rescue each other a time or two, as they try also to rescue a missing commander and uncover the mystery behind two unusual items in their possession: a rare magical pearl and a wide-eyed, pint-sized creature with extraordinary abilities.

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Bastard Executioner setting

Review by C.J. Bunce

Despite its gratuitous gore and overall squalid setting and circumstances, the new television series Bastard Executioner pulled off a good opener last week.  Bastard Executioner, in its two-hour pilot, pulls together every historical action drama archetype and bits of myths and legends to create a compelling drama in the midst of a struggle between the English and Welsh in not-so jolly old medieval England.

Fans of History Channel’s Vikings and Showtime’s Outlander as well as costume dramas like Braveheart, Rob Roy, and First Knight will all find something here of interest.  Not yet as exciting as Vikings but likely to be better than Outlander, it may just be another twist on Robin Hood, but episode one gave us hope this new series will keep our interest for a while.

It would seem an entire season’s worth of activity transpired in the first two-hour episode with an entire story arc begun and ended already.  A village is decimated and the avengers have sought–and gained–revenge on those that caused it.  The man we first believe to be the “bastard executioner” of the title in fact isn’t, sending the viewer’s notions of what this series will be about into a tailspin.  Instead, a mysterious Man With No Name type hero is thrust into the service of those that destroyed his wife, unborn child, and their village.  The producers’ grasp of time and place, quick plotting, and surprising twists mean we will be back for more next week.

Katey Segal Bastard Executioner

The brutality is every bit real even if it is a bit in-your-face.  Yet as bloody and violent as you could imagine, graphic and at times gory, some sense of purpose comes through for the stories’ heroes.  Loyalty, bravery, injustice, the faithful and the faithless, noble heroes and loathsome villains all can be found here.  Look for Katey Sagal (Lost, Married With Children) as the elder, mystical, witch-healer Annora, in what could prove to be an Emmy-worthy role.

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