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Tag Archive: Terrence Howard


Review by C.J. Bunce

By the time of his death in 1982, science fiction writer and future visionary Philip K. Dick wrote some 44 novels and 121 short stories.  A master storyteller, Dick’s short story writing was often simple and straightforward, but it was packed with amazing worlds, prescient technologies (and glimpses at what would be real problems resulting from those technologies), plus truly unique and inspiring ideas and ideals.  The real genius of Dick can be found in these quick stories.  The 2017 British and American co-production Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams is a science fiction series of ten episodes inspired by ten of his short stories, available now in the U.S. for the first time via Amazon Video.  If you find you’re not a fan of the series, don’t hold it against Philip K. Dick–the episodes are only very, very loosely based on his short stories, opting instead to expand on the stories and update most of the settings and plots, including swapping new technologies for those he wrote about.  Ideally those new to Dick’s works will be inspired by the ideas in the series to delve into his written works and experience his creations for themselves.

Written and directed by a variety of filmmakers, Electric Dreams is a hodgepodge of styles, storytelling, and continuity. Surprisingly the writers opted against sticking with the magic of Dick’s stories, deleting key memorable scenes, and choosing to add extra subplots with a few stories barely recognizable from their source material.  Most of the updates detract from the underlying story.  Three episodes fare the best–coincidentally or not, these are episodes that stay the truest to Dick’s own work.  The rest are less compelling, but each has its high points, either via surprisingly good special effects and production values for TV, or the choice of and performances by the actors (including Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel, Source Code), Anna Paquin (X-Men series), Timothy Spall (Harry Potter series), Steve Buscemi (Reservoir Dogs, Fargo), Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad, Total Recall), Jacob Vargas (Luke Cage), Terrence Howard (Wayward Pines), and Anne Reid (Hot Fuzz, Doctor Who, Marchlands).  Based on one of the best of all Dick’s stories, Impossible Planet follows the original story to create the best episode of the series, taking viewers on a final voyage home accompanying an old (more than 300 years old) woman played by Geraldine Chaplin (even this episode cuts the most powerful scene from the short story).  The Father Thing takes its time getting to the story, but once there it keeps the guts and spirit of the original story.  Loyal to the source material, it also has a great John Carpenter-esque soundtrack and Greg Kinnear is perfectly cast as the father.  For a person who was not remembered as a family man, Dick’s stories involving children are among his best and “The Father Thing” is no different.  Ideas furthered in a story familiar to most sci-fi fans, “The Minority Report,” are examined in The Hood Maker, complete with precognitive telepaths and the concept of pre-crime.  The episode follows the original story, and its “buddy cop” duo would make a great spin-off series.

The remainder of the series offers concepts that will be familiar to fans of Dick’s works, particularly those short stories previously committed to film, including “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” adapted into two Total Recall films, Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report, John Woo’s Paycheck, The Adjustment Bureau, and Next (from “The Golden Man”), among others.  Many Dick full-length novels have made it to the big screen, too, most notably Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? released as Blade Runner, and although it does not credit Dick, The Truman Show is obviously sourced in Dick’s novel Time Out of Joint.  In addition, recently Dick’s award-winning novel The Man From the High Castle made it to home video as another Amazon series.

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Wayward Pines

“We gotta get out of this place, if it’s the last thing we ever do.” —The Animals

Claustrophobic?  Then maybe the new Fox series Wayward Pines is not for you.  But the previews for the new series make us think you might be miss out on something good.

Wrong place, wrong time.  We’ve all encountered circumstances we wish we could reverse, but most of us haven’t stumbled into an entire town we wished we could escape from, but couldn’t.  In comedy we’ve seen this on television with shows like Northern Exposure and Green Acres.  In classic cinema we’ve seen it with George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life.  But that’s not the kind of town we’ll be visiting soon in Wayward Pines.  The obvious comparison is to that quirky Pacific Northwest town of Twin Peaks–like that cult favorite series, the protagonist is an FBI agent following up on a case in a forested town.  The characters in Wayward Pines don’t appear to be as odd as the Log Lady, but we’ll learn this town is much, much darker.  In fact it might have more in common with the Midwest town in Children of the Corn, the British village in Wicker Man, or Stephen King’s seaside town of Haven.

Wayward Pines Matt Dillon

Somehow the townspeople of Wayward Pines are trapped.  Like a plot pulled from an episode of sci-fi television–think The Twilight Zone’s “Nick of Time” (1960) with William Shatner, The X-Files’s episode “Arcadia” (1999), or the reboot The Twilight Zone episode “Evergreen” (2002) with Amber Tamblyn.  In movies no director knows “trapped” like M. Night Shyamalan, as seen in his moody Signs (2002), The Village (2004), and The Happening (2008).  So it’s no wonder his next director/executive producer project is Wayward Pines. 

After the break, check out the trailer for Wayward Pines:

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Bill Murray St Vincent

It’s been a long time since a Bill Murray movie really clicked, an undisputed, resounding hit.  Something that highlights why we first loved this actor who got his big break on Saturday Night Live, then was propelled to movie star with Caddyshack, Stripes, and Ghostbusters.  Meanwhile he started a dramatic career, with hints of a serious guy even in Meatballs, as an actor in Tootsie, with the lead in a Dickens adaptation in Scrooged, and that all seemed to peak with his role again as another actor in Lost in Translation, which earned an Academy Award nomination.

Another not-ready-for-prime-time player, Steve Martin, took a similar path.  Following SNL he was easily recognizable for one of the bigger cameos in The Muppet Movie, but had his break-out role for movie stardom with The Jerk.  He had some snoozers, followed by funnier fare with All of Me, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.  But his dramatic turn came with Roxanne, an adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac, and seemed to leave comedy behind with L.A. Story, Grand Canyon--which earned him an Academy Award nomination, A Simple Twist of Fate, The Spanish Prisoner, and Shopgirl.

Murray and cat

Both Murray and Martin had mid-range successes and returns to all-out comedies, Murray with What About Bob?, The Man Who Knew Too Little, Rushmore, Get Smart and City of Ember.  Martin with HouseSitter and Bringing Down the House.  Will either of these guys return to all-out comedies?

Unless you’re a fan of his Wes Anderson films, you may be someone who thinks the last great comedy Bill Murray has done was Groundhog Day, 21 years ago back in 1993.  But every time another comedy features Murray, loyal fans come back again to see what he has for us.

Might the next funny Murray flick be St. Vincent?

St Vincent Bill Murray

Look at the great slate of co-stars: an almost unrecognizable Naomi Watts, Melissa McCarthy, and Iron Man’s Terrence Howard.

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Sabotage-Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger keeps pumping out the movies.  Next up he’s a gruff Richard Marcinko-looking government tough guy leading a special ops team in Sabotage.  If you like your action movies of the real-life drama variety, this might be up your alley.

Look for Olivia Williams (The Sixth Sense, The Postman, Dollhouse) to star in this latest Arnold star vehicle, along with Sam Worthington (Avatar, Terminator Salvation), and Terrence Howard (Iron Man).

Check out Arnold in this first trailer for Sabotage:

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