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Netflix Delivers a Look at The Old Guard

Forever is harder than it looks. Led by a warrior named Andy (Charlize Theron), a covert group of tight-knit mercenaries with a mysterious inability to die have fought to protect the mortal world for centuries. But when the team is recruited to take on an emergency mission and their extraordinary abilities are suddenly exposed, it’s up to Andy and Nile (Kiki Layne), the newest soldier to join their ranks, to help the group eliminate the threat of those who seek to replicate and monetize their power by any means necessary.

The film is based on the comic series from Greg Rucka and Leandro Fernández and published by Image Comics and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, The Old Guard is a gritty, grounded, action-packed story that shows living forever is harder than it looks.

Coming to Netflix on July 10.

You can read the first issue for free.

Netflix Reveals a Look at Charlize Theron in Greg Rucka and Leandro Fernández’s The Old Guard

Netflix has released our first look at Charlize Theron who leads a group of mercenaries in The Old Guard. The film is based on the comic series from Greg Rucka and Leandro Fernández and published by Image Comics. It comes to Netflix on July 10. The film is directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood and also features Chiwetel Ejiofor, Harry Melling, and Kiki Layne.

The Old Guard is the story of soldiers who never die and are trapped in an immortality without explanation.

The comic series debuted in February 2017 with the first volume running for five issues. It was followed up with a second volume that debuted in December 2019, running five issues as well, and is set to wrap up July 15.

You can read the first issue for free.

Around the Tubes

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We’re still recovering from watching the Oscars last night! What’d you all think of the show and the winners? Sound off in the comments below. While you think about that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

CNET – Zachary Levi asks fans to stop pitting Captain Marvel against Shazam – Fandom can really suck some times.

iO9 – This Exclusive Into the Spider-Verse Deleted Scene Features Another Emotional Spider-Pep Talk – Check it out!

Critical Hit – Netflix secures film rights for The Old Guard comic series with Charlize Theron set to star – Can’t wait for this.

Newsarama – Syfy’s Wynonna Earp Future In Question – This is a popular one. A hell of a fandom.

The Comichron – January comics sales start 2019 strong, up 14%; Batman Who Laughs #2, Conan top charts – For those that like the horse race.

The Comics Journal – Dammit Jim, I’m a Comics Retailer, Not a Doctor! – A rather interesting read. What are your thoughts?

Reviews

Talking Comics – Captain Marvel #2
The Beat –
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Movie Review: Atomic Blonde

atomic_blonde_posterMix source material graphic novel The Coldest City with classic thrillers like The French Connection, add in some modern Hong Kong-inspired action sequences and killer-thrillers like John Wick, and set it to the soundtrack of a 1989 Berlin discotheque, and you have Atomic Blonde.

It’s a perfect cocktail of fun, sexy, cool, and brutal as MI-6 agent Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) combs through Berlin on assignment to find a secret dossier that details all the identities and dirty laundry of secret agents around the world on all sides of the Cold War. It’s literally the weeks before the Berlin Wall is about to fall, making it even more dangerous as both sides are playing as though they have nothing left to lose.

Complicating matters is Britain’s station chief David Percival (James McAvoy) who has gone native, engaging in smuggling and information brokering beyond his normal job duties. Lorraine is also tasked with using the hunt for the list to uncover a mole within the agency who has been passing information to the Soviets. Further complicating things is French agent Delphine LaSalle (Sofia Boutella), with whom things get too close, and too personal, for Lorraine.

The film is absolutely gorgeous to look at. Scenes are framed like comic book panels, and the cold blue and grey color palate — punctuated by the occasional stark neon — help evoke  the specific time and place of the film’s setting.

What helps set this even more in late 80’s Cold War Berlin is the film’s soundtrack. A heavy industrial synth backbone of Depeche Mode, Ministry, and New Order are offset by the tenderness of Til Tuesday’s “Voices Carry,” which takes on an added emotional resonance as a sort of love theme in the film. Depeche Mode reminds us “Sweet little girl/I’d prefer/ you behind the wheel/ and me the passenger” which becomes a sort of feminist anthem as we recognize that songs is now about Lorraine and Percival– and also gets us amped for a cool action sequence. Flock of Seagulls’ “I Ran” is used perfectly in an eye-popping, jaw-dropping chase scene, and David Bowie makes not one, but two appearances on the soundtrack, giving the film its sort of ethos of “putting out fires with gasoline.”

As amazing and perfect as the soundtracks to Baby Driver and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 were, this is the soundtrack of the year.

One of the other most fun elements in the film is how it’s told– completely in flashback, with a beat-up, post-mission Lorraine being debriefed by her MI-6 handler (a perpetually uncomfortable-looking Toby Jones) and a senior official from the CIA (an incredibly annoyed John Goodman). The interplay between Theron, Jones, and Goodman is masterful and is the apotheosis of the beautiful character work that prevents this film from being simply a bloody spy thriller. We also see Lorraine holding back key details, letting us know she isn’t exactly the most reliable of narrators. This draws heavily from other great thrillers that use this device like The Usual Suspects, but also manages to be its own film.

One of the things that makes this so unique is its portrayal of a completely bisexual protagonist. And unlike James Bond who seems to hold little sentiment for his various romantic conquests who end up dead, Lorraine is motivated by her feelings for those she has fallen for. But, she’s still a kickass spy who puts her business first– we just also see a very human emotional toll this takes.

So much of the credit for this film need to go to director David Leitch. Best known as a stunt and second unit director who also cut his teeth on John Wick, Leitch is able to bring a dazzling and unique visual style sorely lacking in so many blockbusters. He also puts together a hell of a fight scene, one where we as the audience feel the weight of every blow and crunch of every bone and sinew. It helps that he’s drawing from The Coldest City graphic novel, whose authors get a script credit, to bring such a great story to life. But he does it with such great visual and auditory panache that this becomes one of the best movies of 2017, and a super cool way to chill out during the dog days of summer.

Go see this, then spend hours with your friends coming up with slash/fiction where Lorraine, John Wick, and the characters from Kingsman all meet up and fight each other.

4 out of 5 stars

Movie Review: The Huntsman: Winter’s War

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Snow White and The Huntsman was a passable film. The script was kind of bad but what made up for it were the wonderful cinematography, visual effects and, most notably, its production design. It was also consistent. Now, four years later, we have a new film in this franchise and one less Kristen Stewart.

To be perfectly honest, The Huntsman is not as bad of a film as most critics make it out to be. It is true that there are more flaws than strengths here but if you simply switch off your analytical part of the brain, which is quite difficult, you could enjoy the film. I know I certainly didn’t hate it. However, I didn’t love it either.

Winter’s War is not only a sequel to the 2012 film but also a prequel. Meshing the two in one sounds confusing because it is. The events take place sometime after Snow White but also before as it tells a different story. I said it was confusing, right? Chris Hemsworth reprises his role as Eric/ The Huntsman and does a good job. Actually, outside of his Marvel films, he has never really has a hit. Blackhat was flat out terrible and did accordingly at the box office and In The Heart of The Sea, albeit a good film, also failed to meet expectations.

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Here he, more or less, resembles Han Solo; he is just as witty and awesome. In fact, I am wondering why nobody’s considering him for the standalone Han Solo film. He has the chops, and looks, to do great. He was the comic relief of the surprisingly dark film and the only thing he didn’t nail was the accent. It was supposed to sound Scottish but every now and then will change. This is part of the inconsistency I mentioned earlier.

Jessica Chastain is also very good here but has the same problem Hemsworth has–her accent constantly changes and takes you out of the movie. Her character is a bit flat as her motivations are not particularly clear or logical. While I loved her in Interstellar and didn’t think she did a good job in Crimson Peakquite enjoyed her portrayal of Sara.

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Emily Blunt is an odd case in this film. While I swear this woman is capable of playing anything, I don’t really believe the role of Freya was the best choice for her. Frankly, I think it would have been much better had Blunt and Chastain’s role been reversed. While the latter managed to be believable, I reckon Emily would be a better fir for a warrior as she nailed her scenes in Edge of Tomorrow and Sicario.

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Finally, the most interesting and drawing character, Charlize Theron is just made for this role. Indeed, she can also play all sorts of roles but Ravenna is where she’s really remarkable. She brings so much to the character and wearing these gorgeous gold and black dresses (gowns?) and is stealing every scene she’s in. What disappointed me was that she is not in the film nowhere near as much as the trailers suggest.

The trailers were partly the reason the film was predictable. What was supposed to be a shocking reveal in the end of the film was shown in all three trailers and barely, if at all, had any emotional impact. Also, they are a bit misleading. They led me to believe that this was more about the two sisters and less about the Huntsman, and in all fairness though, this would have made a much more enticing film.

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When it comes to the film as a whole it feels incomplete, rushed and a bit tedious. Even though there is plenty of action, and one fight scene in particular stands out as it has only sound effects and no music, The Huntsman is a bore for people who expect more story. As I said, it is spoiled far too much in the trailers. I didn’t have high expectations of this film, but it was underwhelming.

Winter’s War is directed by Cedric Nicolas-Troyan who was the visual effects supervisor of the previous instalment. This is his first feature film and for a first-time director he has done a respectable job. While the film fails on script level it is simply stunning to look at; the cinematography and production design are just as phenomenal as they were in Snow White and The Huntsman. Nonetheless, I feel that this film has a reduced budget as the visual effects at times are a bit spotty when it comes to exteriors. Other than that I don’t really have a problem with them. One memorable moment is when the two queens go face to face with each other and start fighting. There are quite a few interesting and imaginative ways in which the powers of Freya and Ravenna are used.

Although The Huntsman: Winter’s War might not be as good as the previous film it has a stellar cast and, mostly, opulent visuals that almost make up for the terrible script. Moreover, some inconsistencies make the film convoluted and it is as though the director and the writers couldn’t agree on which part of the story they should focus on so what we get is an overly complicated but not exactly appealing movie.

Rating: 5 out of 10 stars

Movie Review: Mad Max: Fury Road

MM-Main-PosterIn a stark desert landscape where humanity is broken, two rebels just might be able to restore order: Max, a man of action and of few words, and Furiosa, a woman of action who is looking to make it back to her childhood homeland.

36 years since the first Mad Max film, and 30 years since the last George Miller returns to pen the script for (with some help) and direct the apocalyptic world he created with a new actor to fill the role of Max Rockatansky, actor Tom Hardy. Mad Max: Fury Road is a throwback film to many ways, but with a modern sensibility about it. Joining Miller and Hardy is a fascinating cast but most notably Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa and Nicholas Hoult as Nux. It is through Hardy, Theron, and Hoult’s three characters we get the crux and much of the theme of the film.

Much has been made about the film being a feminist plot, but after watching it, the film could be called an environmentalist plot, a call for redistribution of wealth, a condemnation of blind and fanatical faith, and a look at post-industrial society. It’s a political film no doubt, but if this is what you’re focused on, you’re probably missing the visual assault and pulse pounding action. The fact is, the film doesn’t raise the women above the men in any way as characters, they hold their own in even footing, the way life and a film should be. The women play both warrior and damsel, but so does Max, and so does Nux. I don’t want to focus too deeply on the political subtext, that’s a post for another day.

The film is brilliant in many ways, Miller clearly had a vision and the film is unequaled so far this movie season. The script maybe contained 500 words between the cast, instead this is a film of action, both through the movement of the actors, but the movement of the machinery. The film at it’s most simple is a chase and disaster film with Max and Furiosa pursued by Immortan Joe and his disciples.

The visuals are the draw here, as you’re thrown directly into the action for a sequence that goes on for quite a while before a proper break. It’s an assault, in a good way, pushing visuals in front of you that left my jaw agape. The film takes us back to practical special fx, forgoing computer animation as much as possible, it’s both refreshing and exciting to see it all again on the big screen.

There’s not much to say about the acting. It’s good, not great, but there’s also not a whole lot there as far as dialogue. There’s lots of grunts and looks, but we’re not talking Shakespeare. While dialogue isn’t prevalent those three main characters of Max, Furiosa, and Nux each have interesting arcs taking them each from subjugation through liberation. It’s all fascinating and gets into the themes of the film.

By the end of the film, I felt spent, the length felt like a perfect amount of time that had me drained when the credits rolled. Miller hasn’t lost a step in his time away, and when you take the story, visuals, direction, fx, and characters it all feels revolutionary in many ways.

30 years later, and Miller has returned at what he does best, and has put Hollywood on notice of how to do a film right. It’s my favorite film of 2015 so far. What a lovely day. What a lovely film.

Overall rating: 9.5