Atomic Blonde: Red Band Trailer

Atomic Blonde is an upcoming spy thriller action film directed by David Leitch, John Wick co-creator and future director of the Deadpool sequel. The film is based upon the 2013 graphic novel The Coldest City by Anthony Johnston and will feature a script by Kurt Johnstad. The film will star Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, Toby Jones, Eddie Marsan, Sofia Boutella, and John Goodman.

Atomic Blonde, as well as its original source material, tells the story of Lorraine Broughton, an MI-6 agent sent to Berlin to investigate the death of an undercover agent and retrieve a list of every Western officer working in Berlin, which is in possession of a Stasi agent that the undercover man was able to flip, codenamed Spyglass. Set in 1989, the story is set in the backdrop of the extremely volatile and dangerous period  leading up to the eve of the collapse of the Berlin Wall on November 9th. Lorraine is forced to partner up with Berlin Section head David Percival, and the two forge an uneasy alliance with each other.

As John Wick remains possibly my favorite film of the straight-up action thriller genre, I was immediately interested in what its creators, Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, were planning next. Stahelski went on as the sole director of the equally brilliant John Wick: Chapter 2, as Leitch was busy with this new project. As he has been attached to direct this film since early 2015, I immediately purchased and read through the source material as I knew I was automatically going to see this film, as, at the time of writing this, I am automatically interested in anything either of the two men create. The graphic novel presents an old-school le Carré-esque story with much more focus on tradecraft and double agents. That type of story is very much a niche and is not for everyone, as tradecraft and mystery-driven spy thrillers are often deliberately slow moving and cerebral, which is a turn-0ff for mainstream audiences. So when it comes into converting The Coldest City into the action-focused Atomic Blonde….

I have absolutely no objections whatsoever. The trailer starts with a sampling of what I assume will be a breathtaking long take action sequence. I have often described what a long take is in other reviews; it is a portion of the film that is shot continuously, meaning no fancy camera tricks and no breaks. Normally for fight sequences, it’s “kung fu move, cut, kung fu move, cut, kung fu move, cut.” With a long take, there are no breaks. For further examples of long takes, see both seasons of  Daredevil and the first season of True Detective. I am overjoyed that both these two men know to cast people who can actually pull off action sequences like this themselves without a stunt double. Keanu Reeves is apparently immortal, and Charlize Theron has proved her action chops in Mad Max: Fury Road. The sequence in question, though it certainly stole the show in this trailer, is not the only thing of note here. There are several glimpses here of sequences that are sure to give the film’s spiritual predecessor a run for it’s money.

All of this focus on action is not to discount the fact that Charlize Theron is an Academy-Award winner and a truly talented actress in her own right, on top of being physically fit enough to pull off a film like this, and James McAvoy, though overshadowed by X-Men co-star Michael Fassbender, is a very talented actor, whom I hazard will have some awesome highlights of his own throughout the film. On top of that, the wonderfully skeevy Toby Jones is here, being wonderfully skeevy. With such plot-heavy source material to work with, even though they are certainly not following the graphic novel to the letter, there’s more than enough to create an engaging plot; if you can make one of the most engaging action films in the past few decades using a dog and a car, a good story with the material here should not be hard at all.

Atomic Blonde might sound like a cheap California-produced porno, but make no mistake; this neo-noir spy film, directed by the guy who created one of my favorite films of all time, starring a very beautiful, award-winning, and talented actress and a woefully underrated and talented Scotsman, is officially my most anticipated film of the summer. Atomic Blonde is set to be released on July 28th, 2017.

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Iron Fist (NYCC Trailer)

Iron Fist is an upcoming Netflix Original Series. It is the fourth and final individual installment in the Defenders franchise before the big team up miniseries. Iron Fist will follow Daredevil (first and second season), Jessica Jonesand the recently released Luke Cage. The series is being helmed by Scott Buck, former writer of cult TV series like HBO’s Six Feet Under and Rome, CBS’ Everybody Loves RaymondABC’s Coach, and, most notably, Showtime’s DexterThe series will primarily be written by one Tamara Becher. Iron Fist stars Game of Thrones alum Finn Jones, Jessica Henwick, Jessica Stroup, David Wenham, Tom Pelphry, and Lewis Tan.

Jones stars as Danny Rand. Danny is the son of Wendell Rand,  who discovered the mystical teleporting city of  K’un-Lun as a young boy and saved its leader. After growing up, Wendell moved to New York City and became an entrepenuer, marrying a wealthy socialite named Heather Duncun. Danny is their only child. When Danny was nine, Wendell mounted an expedition with Danny, Heather, and Wendell’s unscrupulous business partner Harold Meechum. Daniel slips while on a path his tie-rope putting both him and his parents in danger. Meechum forces Wendell to his death, but offers to save Danny and Heather, whom he is in love with. She rejects him and they set out on their own. They encounter a makeshift bridge that appears out of nowhere and are attacked by wolves. She is killed even as archers from K’un-Lun attempt to save her. The grieving Danny is taken to meet Yu-Ti, the leader of K’un-Lun and the man Wendell saved all those years ago. Expressing a deep-seated desire for vengeance against Meechum, Danny is put under the tutilage of Lei Kung, the most talented martial artist in the Marvel Universe. Danny proves to be Lei Kung’s most gifted student. The almost overly-dedicated Danny used to condition his fists by plunging them into sand and gravel to toughen them. At 19, Danny is given the opportunity to become an Iron Fist. To do so he must defeat a dragon; Shou-Lao the Undying, who guards the molten heart that had been taken from him. During the battle, Danny throws himself up against the Scar of Shou-Lao, which burns a scar onto his chest. Danny is successful and gains the mystical powers of the Iron Fist. It is later revealed that he is part of a long line of Iron Fist warriors. Danny returns to Earth  when K’un-Lun teleports there after ten years. Danny swears to avenge his parents’ deaths as Iron Fist, all the while reclaiming ownership of the Rand Corporation, making Danny a billionaire.

Iron Fist has a lot to live up to. For me, though all of Marvel’s Netflix series have been great in their own right, none of them have been able to live up to Daredevil’s first season. This is primarily due to two factors. Matt Murdock, the protagonist of Daredevil, is a man who was blinded at birth, heightening his other senses to an astounding degree. He has been described as “a blind man who can see.” Murdock learns martial arts from an old man and uses his skill and extraordinary attributes to protect Hell’s Kitchen from danger. Matt Murdock is, at the end of the day, a man just like you and me. He can be, and has been, shot in the head at point blank range, stabbed, and brutally beaten. Jessica Jones and Luke Cage never have to deal with that. Even as superheroes, their struggles are internal rather than external. Matt has to deal with both. This makes him more interesting on several fronts; it’s ironic that he is sometimes known as The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen, because the personal, professional, and vigilante lives of attorney Matt Murdock are quite literally a living Hell. Coming from this point, the fight sequences and action in Daredevil was and always will be top notch and completely badass, but Jessica Jones and Luke Cage seem lacking in this aspect, comparitively. Iron Fist, in the nature of itself, bring the pain. I sense Danny’s personal life will end up entirely out of control, too. One very minor criticism I have is Finn Jones kinda looks too much like a hipster Neil Patrick Harris for my tase.

I will be anticipating Iron Fist like I have anticipated all Defenders series. Iron Fist will land on Netflix on March 17th, 2017, followed by the Defenders miniseries some time later that same year. Season 1 of The Punisher spinoff will arrive either in late 2017 or early 2018, followed by Daredevil Season 3 in 2018.

Live By Night: Teaser Trailer

Live By Night is an upcoming American crime thriller film based upon the novel of the same name by Gone, Baby, Gone author Dennis Lehane. Live By Night is written and directed by Ben Affleck in his fourth directorial effort and stars Affleck, Chris Cooper, Ellie Fanning, Brendan Gleeson, Chris Messina, Sienna Miller, and Zoe Saldana. Set in the 1920’s, Live By Night tells the story of Joe Coughlin, the prodigal son of a Boston police captain who, after moving to Tampa, becomes a bootlegger, gun-runner, and eventually a notorious gangster.

Gone, Baby, Gone was Affleck’s brilliant directorial debut. Dennis Lehane’s novels are clearly good works to adapt to film, with the Clint Eastwood-directed Mystic River being the best work the legendary badass has done as a director so far, in my opinion. Affleck is obviously a fan of Lehane’s work, as am I, so it makes sense to see the two team up again, as it were. I just began reading Live By Night today, coincidentally.

I will continue to say this whenever the subject comes up, Ben Affleck is a supremely talented director and writer. Gone, Baby, Gone remains one of my all-time favorites, and The Town and Argo are also brilliant and extremely well-made films. I have been anxiously awaiting news on Live By Night and, lo and behold, this trailer dropped yesterday right under my nose.

Affleck is possibly a better director than he is an actor, and I say that of the opinion he’s a great actor. It is clear here, as well as in his previous works, that he has an eye for the technical, as well as the emotional, aspects of filmmaking. I haven’t gotten too far into the novel, but it is clear to me, and clear to Affleck, that Joe is a good man who does bad things, the type of person that Affleck has become skillful at portraying, both on the screen and behind the camera. Joe isn’t conflicted about his life, and has no problem being a bad man, but does realize what it means for him and other people. The use of Hozier’s best song, Arsonist’s Lullaby, is appropriate, as the song concerns and arsonist who has no regrets about his compulsions, but realizes he can never allow himself to go too far.

All you have is your fire
And the place you need to reach
Don’t you ever tame your demons
But always keep ’em on a leash

When I was a man I thought it ended
When I knew love’s perfect ache
But my peace has always depended
On all the ashes in my wake

All you have is your fire,
And the place you need to reach
Don’t you ever tame your demons,
But always keep ’em on a leash…

Early on in the trailer, Zoe Saldana’s Graciella Corrales tells Joe, “I don’t know if you’re cruel enough,” to which he replies that men do not have to be cruel. I am not far enough into the novel to know the main conflict, but I would imagine Joe will learn just how wrong he is over the course of escalating criminal events.

Robert Richardson serves as cinematographer for this film. He has received three Academy Awards for his work on JFK, The Aviatorand Hugo. He has been nominated for that same award a total of nine times for various films. He frequently collaborates with Oliver Stone, Martin Scorsese, and Quentin Tarantino. Live By Night will certainly be a gorgeous film, and I see a hint of what may be a single take gunfight in the film, so hopefully that happens.

Live By Night premieres January 13th, 2017. Every director, even great ones like Affleck with a perfect track record, have to fail at some point, but I doubt Live By Night will be anything less than a great movie. It is probably my most anticipated movie coming out in the next six months and I can’t wait to see it.

Free Fire: Red Band Trailer

Free Fire is an upcoming action comedy crime film written and directed by Ben Wheatley. It stars Armie Hammer, Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, and Sharlto Copley. Set in the 1970s, the film follows two groups of criminals who meet up at a warehouse for a weapons deal. A disagreement turns the whole thing into a shootout between the two groups in the warehouse.

Ben Wheatley is an up and coming, but accomplished British director who has yet to make a big name for himself outside the UK, having yet to exit the independent film circle. He is known mostly for a rather disturbing horror film called Kill List about a group of mercenaries who end up entangled in a satanic cult. Kill List is now a cult classic horror film in the UK and won several awards and praise. His most recent work, High Rise, an adaptation of the dystopian science-fiction novel of the same name, starring big names like Tom Hiddleston, Sienna Miller, and Luke Evans, has unfortunately failed to garner the same praise as Kill List.

Though I haven’t seen either Kill List (because I’m a wuss) or High Rise (from what I’ve heard, it’s very disappointing), I have nevertheless kept a close eye on Wheatley’s career, and Free Fire finally looks like my bag, not terrifying, and not disappointing (as far as I can tell). Though Free Fire is certainly not a horror film, he seems to be taking elements of the genre and working them to his advantage. Some may find it questionable to set an entire film in a singular location, but that can actually be extremely effective. Setting a film in a singular location for a horror film like the recent and acclaimed Don’t Breathe or an action film like Dredd or The Raid can ratchet up the tension and feeling of actual dread or add a feeling of claustrophobia. It is exceedingly simple and exceedingly effective. Indeed, the main goal of all the films I just mentioned boil down to “How the Hell do we get out of here alive?” This seems to be the general question Wheatley wants to answer, yet with a very comedic spin on things.

The film, which also has Martin Scorscese attached as executive producer, will premiere at the annual Toronto Film Festival, and will serve as the closing film at the London Film Festival on October 16th, 2016. The film has a UK release date of March 31st, 2017. Upon its international release, I don’t know if Free Fire will be playing in theaters in my area, seeing as it is an  independent, and not to mention foreign, release, and those usually only pop up in Chicago or L.A, not small-town Illinois. I do plan to get my hands on it, eventually, though.

This cast is perfect. I straight up love everyone in here. Cillian Murphy is my man crush for life, Allison Brie is a talented comedic actress who first came to light on the hilarious and beloved Community, which holds a special place in my heart, Armie Hammer is still trying to find his footing after The Lone Ranger, but in my opinion, proved himself with both The Social Network and The Man From U.N.C.L.E, and Sharlto Copley is… well… Sharlto freaking Copley. With a cast like this and an idea like this, with some genuinely raunchy and hilarious humor thrown in there, I don’t forsee anything going wrong; it looks like it’ll be great to me.

Westworld: Full Trailer

Westworld is an upcoming HBO television series based upon the 1973 film of the same name written and directed by Michael Crichton. Crichton was an acclaimed writer, director, film producer, science-fiction novelist and physician best known for authoring the 1990 novel Jurassic Parkupon which the 1997 film was based. Crichton was also the creator of the hit medical drama ER, and served as the show’s executive producer. The works of the diversely talented and extremely intelligent Dr. Crichton usually dealt with humanity’s obsession with technology and tampering with the natural order, showing what happens when humanity’s potential with technology exceeds what it is able to firmly grasp.

Crichton’s 1973 film directorial debut, Westworld told the story of a theme park in the near future called Delos. Delos is populated by lifelike, high-tech androids. There are three worlds in this park, West World, styled as the American Old West, Medieval World, and Roman World. The lifelike environment and the countless androids that populate the parks exist to allow visitors to role-play as whatever they would like. James Brolin and Richard Benjamin starred as two visitors to West World. One of the attractions, The Gunslinger, is meant to instigate duels for the visitors to participate in. The weapons issued to the guests have temperature sensors to prevent them from shooting other humans, but permit them to “kill” the androids. The Gunfighter is programmed to let the humans win and kill him, and return back the next day for new guests.

The technicians at Delos begin to notice systemic failures and malfunctions in the androids accross all three parks, spreading like an infectious disease: a robotic snake bites Benjamin’s character, an android refuses sexual advances in Medieval World and a knight kills a guest in a swordfight. This goes against the androids’ programming The frantic tehnicians are told by the Chief Supervisor:

“We aren’t dealing with ordinary machines here. These are highly complicated pieces of equipment, almost as complicated as living organisms. In some cases, they’ve been designed by other computers. We don’t know exactly how they work.”

Eventually, the androids begin to run amok and the Gunslinger kills nearly every patron in West World and lock the engineers out of the system. The movie follows Brolin’s character’s desperate attempt to evade The Gunslinger and escape with his life.

The film recieved critical acclaim and is considered by many to be a cult classsic film; it was the first film in history to use digital image processing to pixilate film to show an android’s point of view. The film recieved praise for its storytelling, with Variety calling the film excellent, explaining that it “combines solid entertainment, chilling topicality, and superbly intelligent serio-comic story values.”

Westworld was followed by a failed sequel and a failed television series, neither of which had any involvement with Crichton, who passed away in 2008 at 66. In 2013, HBO announced plans to revive Westworld as a television series. Despite having yet to see the original 1973 film, Westworld immediately grabbed my attention due to the very interesting ideas presented.

Westworld is brimming with potential. The idea was pitched by none other than Jonathan Nolan. Jonathan is the younger brother of acclaimmed filmmaker Christopher Nolan. He has co-written several of the screenplays for his brother’s films, including The Prestige, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, and Interstellar. Jonathan wrote a short story inspired by his general psychology class at Georgetown University entitled Momento Mori. Jonathan pitched the story to his older brother on a cross-country road trip. Though the final screenplay was drastically different than Johnathan’s original story, the basic premise served as inspiration for Christopher’s critically acclaimed debut, the mind-bending psychological thriller MomentoThe original story was published by Esquire Magazine in 2001. In addition to assisting his brother, Johnathon has also been noted for serving as the creator, executive producer, and head showrunner of the CBS technothriller series Person of InterestHe directed and co-wrote several individual episodes of the critically acclaimmed series. Though it started out as a crime procedural with a very interesting premise, the series eventually evolved into a more serialized show around its third season, and broadened it’s exploration of deeper themes and the nature of artifical intelligence, which is when audiences and critics truly began to take note. Nolan is serving as head showrunner alongside Lisa Joy, his wife and former head writer for USA Network’s critically acclaimmed and well-known spy series Burn Notice.  Also serving as showrunner is the Prince of Nerds himself, J.J. Abrams. I am very doubtful his name needs any sort of introduction.

The 88-minute film managed to pack in a lot of philosophical discussion about the nature of technology and servitude in a relatively short amount of time, but that will understandably pale in comparison to what the right crew can do with a 10-hour serial. Indeed, it already seems as though the Westworld series will go much deeper than the film ever could. Headed up by Nolan, who’s entire previous project revolved around the nature of A.I, self-sentience resulting from that A.I, and humanity’s responsibilities when it comes to use of technology, and J.J. Abrams, Westworld very much so has the potential to become one of the best, if not the best, science-fiction television series.

The one-hour drama series Westworld is a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the evolution of sin. Set at the intersection of the near future and the reimagined past, it explores a world in which every human appetite, no matter how noble or depraved, can be indulged.

The series will star an ensemble cast that includes Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden, Jeffery Wright, Thandie Newton, Jimmi Simpson, Ben Barnes, Luke Hemsworth, and Clifton Collins, Jr. With so much talent and star power evident on this project, I would be suprised and a little disappointed if Westworld doesn’t end up being another HBO staple that no one can shut up about.

The pilot episode of Westworld, which was written and directed by Jonathan Nolan, will premiere on HBO Sunday October 2nd at 9PM.