Emily Blunt and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson are reuniting for the upcoming superhero film Ball and Chain. The movie is an adaptation of the comic series by Scott Lobdell, Alé Garza, and Richard Bennett and being adapted by Emily V. Gordon.
The film is about a bickering couple that get superpowers that only work if they’re together.
Ball and Chain ran for four issues and was by Lobdell, Garza, and Bennett. Published by Homage Comics, the series ran from November 1999 to February 2000.
Interestingly, there was to be a tv movie of the comic series in 2001 featuring Dan Cortese and Myndy Crist as the married couple and featuring Eric Dane who would later go on to Grey’s Anatomy and play Multiple Man in X-Men: The Last Stand.
Johnson and Blunt are set to co-star in Jungle Cruise which has been delayed due to the pandemic. It’s unknown when this new team-up will film.
Johnsons has multiple comic properties ahead of him. Along with this film there’s DC’s Black Adam and Doc Savage. This would be the second comic property for blunt who starred in Edge of Tomorrow based off of the manga and book and is rumored to reprise her role in Live Die Repeat and Repeat as well as being a consistent rumor as an actor joining the Marvel Universe.
While I also have a top and bottom list of the movies of 2018, I love things outside of movies, too. Indeed, so much of what has happened in 2018 has been outside of movies, or blurring the lines between what movies and television even are with Netflix bringing us things like The Ballad of Buster Scruggs or Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, the first of whach was originally planned as a tv miniseries, and the latter is just. . . well, what even is Bandersnatch?
So, regardless of medium, here are my Top 5 favorites of everything.
5. Educated: A Memoir
This book hit a lot of lists of the top books of 2018 (including culture critic Barack Obama’s), but it hit especially close to home for me because, like author Tara Westover, I attended Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Her story of growing up kept out of public education was too familiar to me, as survivalism and mistrust of public schools were something I encountered too frequently. This is the same anti-intellectual stew that spawned Glenn Beck and the Bundys’ ranch standoff/takeover of the Malheur Bird Refuge. But Westover’s memoir is a testament to what happens when this is taken to the extreme, to the point that as an adult she had never heard of the Holocaust. It’s a great read and my favorite book of the year.
4. Detroit: Become Human
Ok, there may have been “better” games than this in 2018. (God of War, Super Smash Bros Ultimate, Spider-Man, Red Dead Redemption II) But this story of a near-future where androids begin to gain sentience and their struggle for equality was my personal favorite. It almost wasn’t a video game– it was an interactive movie.
This is one of those games where the choices you make affect the outcome of the game, and you get to choose the fate of a revolution. Will your quest for equality for androids be violent, or non-violent? What are the consequences for the other characters you’re playing as?
This hit me right in my social-justice and robot-loving heart, and also had beautiful gameplay featuring a spectacular cast of actors.
3. Sorry to Bother You
Spoiler Alert: this was my favorite movie of 2018. First time director Boots Riley delivers a searing indictment of capitalism and racial expectations, exposing a sort of gonzo form of racial exploitation that is a perfect intersectional skewering of the nexus of race and class.
It’s very rare for a movie to surprise me, and this made me literally say to the screen, “What the f@#$?!?!“
This was the only film I gave five stars to all year, and it’s something you have to see to believe.
2. Hannah Gadsby – Nanette
I had never heard of Australian comic Hannah Gadsby before this year, so imagine my shock in watching a Netflix special in which she announces her retirement from comedy and then proceeds to deconstruct what comedy is, blow it up, and put it back together again– all told against the backdrop of a heartbreaking childhood story of coming to terms with her queer identity. I never thought anything could make me feel such a rainbow of emotions over such a short period of time. This wasn’t just a comedy special — in the same way Childish Gambino’s “This is America” wasn’t just a music videos. Those were pop culture grenades tossed into the heart of the beast that blew everything up.
1. The Good Place
More than anything else this year, The Good Place ruled my heart and mind. I have not anticipated a broadcast television show like this in a long time, and in between seasons and episodes so many binges of previous seasons.
The best thing about this show that is sorta about the afterlife but kinda mostly about ethics but really just about us dirtbags here on earth and how we treat each other is how it keeps reinventing itself almost every six episodes or so. The show’s writers seem to be laboring under the idea that at some point the network is going to figure out the scam they’ve been running and pull the plug, so we’d better get through as much of this plot as possible. Where most shows would drag out their premise, this races through multiple setups in a single season. It’s refreshing, it’s smart, but it’s also stupid.
This season’s episodes “Jeremy Bearimy” and “Janets” deserve ALL THE EMMYS, especially for acting from Janet herself, D’Arcy Cardon. If you saw them, you know why. If you didn’t see them, what are you waiting for?! To Netflix! To Hulu! Begin the binge now!
It’s the best show on tv– fight me. It’s the best thing from 2018– let’s be friends and watch it together, will you please? It will make you laugh and feed your soul. Also, it has its own official podcast, hosted by Marc Evan Jackson, who plays Shawn, who ends every episode asking, “What’s good?”
The Good Place. It is good. And the best for 2018.
So, Who Won the Year?
I also like to look back at the year look for threads, throughlines, trends that indicate something. Invariably there are big winners and losers in the year. I want to quickly celebrate the top winners.
Honorable Mention: Nicholas Cage
Despite being somewhere between an internet meme and a pariah, Nick Cage still gets some pretty amazing work this year. His starring role in Mandy is like a cocaine-fueled horror fantasy made in the 80’s and then set to age for three decades soaking in LSD. But then he also showed up in the cartoons in some of the most unexpected places: as Spider-Man Noir in Into the Spider-Verse and as Superman in Teen Titans Go! To the Movies. We’re glad to see him working.
Other honorable mentions: Donald Glover, Streaming Services, Steve Carrell, Mahershala Ali, Dolph Lundgren, Michael B. Jordan
This was a good year for cults in movies and tv. Mandy, Bad Times at the El Royale, Wild Wild Country, and Hereditary. Also, the bizarre stories about real life sex cult NXIVM that involved Smallville‘s Allison Mack. So, way to go, cults? At least you have some diversity here– Jesus, Satan, new age, but all of them were big on sex, So, sex cults. Way to win 2018.
4. Emily Blunt and John Krasinski
These two not only had an amazing year, but they did it together. Blunt killed it as Mary Poppins, Krasinski brought Jack Ryan back, and then you have their on-screen duo in A Quiet Place. That movie was such a revelation– mostly about how terrible mainstream movie audiences are at making noise. But in a year when almost every top-grossing film was a sequel, franchise, or remake, A Quiet Place was a true original. Thanks to both of you. You won the year.
3. Comicsgate and the Alt-Right
Now hear me out. I know this will be an unpopular opinion, but the alt-right actually accomplished a decent amount this year, and it’s completely unacceptable. James Gunn is still fired from Guardians of the Galaxy 3. Chuck Wendig was fired from Star Wars/Marvel comics. And, they raised a lot of money through crowdfunding for various ventures.
These guys aren’t playing around. And as long as they keep weaponizing things like offensive tweets, we will lose great creators from our favorite genres.
2. Asian Movie-going Audiences
Look, America, we need to understand that most movies aren’t being made for us anymore. We can decry as braindead anything like The Meg, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Skyscraper, Aquaman, Rampage, or Venom, but those movies kill overseas. There are very specific motifs and types of shots that work there that we as American audiences just aren’t picking up. This is going to have reverberations for years to come.
What’s the major difference? You can make a strong argument for diverse casts and female leads — giving us hits like Black Panther or The Last Jedi — but those movies generally just sort of do ok overseas while overperforming in the US.
That says something comforting about our country and culture at this time. But it says some things that should maybe be concerning that we won’t get complex stories like these in the future while we spit out more Venoms.
Perhaps the biggest irony in all of this is the alt right crusaders who don’t want diversity in our movies, shows, and comics will find common cause with the globalists who will continue to churn out lots of braindead action movies starring heroic dudes. Sigh.
But let’s talk about Black Panther for one moment. It’s arguably the most culturally salient and important piece of pop culture of the year, with Infinity War not far behind. For all their evils as a corporate overlord, we got something truly important for a lot of people to see — an authentically black superhero story that deals with identity, a history of violence and oppression towards the African diaspora, and that leaves us remember that “in times of crisis, the wise build bridges while the foolish build barriers.”
When the box office receipts went off the charts, you gave back– founding an actual charity to do the work of STEM education and scholarships like T’Challa and Shuri wanted. Thank you, Disney. For an evil corporation, you sure gave us a lot of what we loved this year. You win.
[tie] 1. The City of Oakland
Speaking of Black Panther, one of the most important pieces of the film is how director Ryan Coogler brought his Oakland roots into the film. That moment when you realize the voiceover from the beginning of the film is of young Erik and his dad N’Jobu (“Tell me a story of home.”) and the entire basis for Killmonger’s wrath is based on the economic oppression of being raised in poverty in Oakland and what he had to do to escape it. It ends with a hopeful note in the same building, that future children will not have to face such hardship. “Who are you?”
I already mentioned my love of Sorry to Bother You, but that film is not possible without Oakland as a backdrop. The same is true of another of my favorites, Blindspotting, which takes a similar look at poverty, gentrification, and violence. And then we have Bodied, the rap battle movie produced by Eminem, which plays a major part in the film, but whose setting is split between Berkeley, Oakland, and Los Angeles. Still, Oakland as a force is in that film.
And then there’s real life. The Golden State Warriors win the NBA Championship. A white woman calls the cops on a black family having a cookout at an Oakland city park at Lake Merritt and becomes known as “BBQ Becky.”
And then heartbreak. The Oakland Raiders plan to leave for Las Vegas looking for more corporate pork and handouts.
To understand what is going on in Oakland in film and culture is to understand a microcosm of what is happening in so many cities across the country facing gentrification and economic pressures that are displacing historically black populations. It is why I recommend to everyone they see each of these films I mentioned here and think about what is actually happening.
Mary Poppins Returns is the Practically Perfect sequel in almost every way, but it’s potentially pandering to fans. What is almost a beat for beat and scene-by-scene song by song remake of the original, it’s a remake in sequel’s clothing. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)
After all, that is essentially what The Force Awakens was for Star Wars. But there are enough differences and updates to keep it fresh and make it fun and new.
Chief among these is its cast. Emily Bluntis Mary Poppins. Period. And the way she puts an extra bit of pizzazz on so much of her delivery helps set this Poppins apart from Julie Andrews’ performance. Blunt’s is a bit more playful and mischievous, but also at the same time more serious and menacing. Julie Andrews’ Poppins was nurturing, Blunt’s Poppins is just straight badass.
Lin-Manuel Miranda as Jack The Lamplighter falls into Dick Van Dyke’s shoes as the “Bert” of this story, and he’s having an incredible amount of fun here. You can tell this is someone who has dreamed of being in a big Disney musical like this his entire life, and he’s soaking up every moment that he can. Unfortunately, just like with Van Dyke, his American accent bites through the attempt at Cockney, exposing a small gap in the performance. When the songs require Miranda to fall into his rap delivery that Hamilton and In the Heights fans are so familiar with, Miranda’s natural timbre and delivery come out and he’s just Lin-Manuel Miranda — not some cockney lamplighter.
The Banks children are also just perfectly adorable. They couldn’t have been better cast if Disney were to have assembled them in a factory somewhere, which I always, in fact, fear that Disney has done. Little Georgie (Joel Dawson) especially is a particularly great find.
And Ben Wishaw and Emily Mortimer are no slouches as the grown-up Jane and Michael Banks either. Wishaw delivers some of the more tender moments of the film, singing about the loss and grief of losing his wife, the children’s mother. It is with this that Mary Poppins Returns sets itself apart from the original. While Mary Poppins (1964) was morally complex, layered, and beautiful, it never sought to delve into something as emotional as loss of a primary family member. The way the film deals with this is endearing and beautiful, and hopefully will be a salve to any children who face this incredible trauma in the future.
The visuals are also phenomenal. Mary Poppins’ first adventure with the children is to get them clean. In an outing in their own bathtub they swim with playful dolphins and through pirate treasure in some of the most beautiful animation that we’ve seen mixed with live action in a long time.
This continues to crop up throughout the film as the children jump into a china dish and go to a circus and face off against a scheming fox (Colin Firth.who plays a symbolic double role here also as the acting head of the bank where Michael works).
Of course this is all filled with the most wonderful of music as well. While maybe not as polished and classic as the Sherman Brothers songs, these new songs from Marc Shaiman (Hairspray) are still incredibly serviceable. many of them take on an edge of vaudeville or the jazz music of the time period, which is a fun touch. As mentioned before, the theme of loss is what sets this apart, and the songs “A Conversation” and “The Place Where Lost Things Go”are particularly heartfelt as they relate to the loss of Michael’s wife/the childrens’ mother.
While the film really wants to be its own, director Rob Marshall feels like he’s merely mimicking the original film. It is scene for scene, beat-for-beat, song for song an homage, if not a straight rip-off, of the original. There’s also a turn at the end in service to the plot to tie up all loose ends that I personally had a thematic problem with, but for those who don’t necessarily share my very specific views or head canon of the original Mary Poppins, you will likely not even blink at it.
Emily Mortimer is also tragically underutilized. While they make mention of her labour organizing and a nacent possible romance with Jack, these plotlines are somewhat dropped and underdeveloped. It felt like there might have been more there at some point that was cut from early scripts or versions of the film.
The film is also full of engaging cameos. Don’t let anyone spoil them for you, and don’t even look at the soundtrack listing or IMDb, because when some of these folks show up on screen it is just an absolute delight.
This film will surely entertain parents and children young and old for years to come. Beautiful and emotionally resonant, if a little too formulaic to the original, but if you’re a fan of the original 1964 Mary Poppins and don’t mind seeing an updated version of that, this film is absolutely for you. It’s supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
Fans awaiting the release of My Little Pony: The Moviewere just given a HUGE treat today with the release of a never before seen image from the movie!
In the photo, you’ll be able to meet Princess Skystar (voiced by Kristin Chenoweth) and Queen Novo (voiced by Uzo Aduba). You’ll also have the chance to see the Mane 6: Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Applejack, Twilight Sparkle, Rarity and Pinkie Pie. The film also features an all-star cast with voice talents of Emily Blunt, Taye Diggs, Michael Peña, Zoë Saldana, Liev Schreiber and Sia, including an original song performed by Sia.
A new dark force threatens Ponyville, and the Mane 6 – Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, and Rarity – embark on an unforgettable journey beyond Equestria where they meet new friends and exciting challenges on a quest to use the magic of friendship and save their home.
What are two individuals who I didn’t expect to be in a My Little Pony movie?
Hasbro and Lionsgate have announced that Liev Schreiber and Taye Diggs will be joining the cast of My Little Pony: The Movie. The two are the latest additions to the A-List ensemble cast of the film, which is slated for theatrical release on October 6, 2017.
Schreiber and Diggs will both voice characters that are brand new to the franchise, joining the established “Mane 6” from the award-winning My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic TV series on their first journey to the big screen. They will be joined by previously announced Golden Globe-winning actress Emily Blunt, Tony and Emmy Award-winning actress Kristen Chenoweth, Emmy Award-winning and Golden Globe-nominated actress Uzo Aduba and Michael Pena.
Fan-favorite writer and producer for My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Meghan McCarthy is penning the screenplay alongside Rita Hsiao. My Little Pony: The Movie is being produced by Brian Goldner and Stephen Davis for Hasbro’s Allspark Pictures with Jayson Theissen directing.
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.
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 Peak, quite enjoyed her portrayal of Sara.
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 andSicario.
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.
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.
I went in to watching my DVD review copy of Looper with a bit of hesitation. I heard a lot about it from friends and saw the praise online. But, when it comes to time travel trippy movies, I find them to be rather hit or miss. I’m often left wondering more about the mechanics of time travel the movie lives by instead of the story presented before me.
In 2074, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, the target is sent 30 years into the past, where a hired gun awaits. Someone like Joe, who one day learns the mob wants to ‘close the loop’ by transporting back Joe’s future self.
I sat down with my bowl of popcorn and my soda and turned down the lights not sure what to expect. What I found was an action packed movie that was more a hard boiled noir/crime story instead of a time travel/sci-fi movie. This was a movie whose character development was centered around people sitting or standing around talking, not in the action or bravado they showed.
Directed by Rian Johnson where left to focus on the characters before us and their motivation instead of being distracted by the world they inhabit or that mechanics of time travel. To control our focus like that is impressive for the director who gives us quiet scenes of chatter along with blazing shoot outs. To be able to pull off both and pull us in as an audience is impressive.
The most difficult task of the movie was making us believe Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the younger version of Bruce Willis. The movie really centers around that having us focus on these two same people at different points in their lives. Some small make-up work made Gordon-Levitt look like Willis and the young actors ability to mimic the veteran action star’s familiar patterns is impressive. You could easily believe they’re the same person. Supporting roles by Emily Blunt and Jeff Daniels as Gordon-Levitt’s verbal sparring partner and the mob boss pursing Willis and Gordon-Levitt stand out from a small, but impressive cast. Pierce Gagnon as Cid, the possible target of Willis, is really impressive. At not times does the movie suffer from the child actor, in fact it’s enhanced by his innocence.
I did find some issues with the mechanics of time travel presented in the movie (we’ll get to that in the extras comment) and found myself focused a lot on that after. But, it was explainable to me (though the other person I watched it with had issues as well). The plot was predictable with some slight twists and turns, but nothing super shocked. The movie is all about that acting not the action, something not expected going into watching the film.
The extras on the DVD was sparse with some commentary and deleted scenes. There’s one scene I think does deserve being in the film and it explains time travel a bit better. That extra is very helpful watching after the film. The Blu-Ray has a “The Science of Time Travel Featurette” and additional deleted scenes, but unfortunately that’s not the copy I received, so only able to review what was provided.
Overall, the film is excellent. It lives up to the hype and buzz and I’m a bit pissed I waited so long to watch the film. It might seem like a time travel action film, but it’s really all about the characters and acting. This is a smart-person’s sci-fi film, one who doesn’t care about explosions or action sequences, they care about the performance overall. It’s a pretty tight movie that you have to pay attention to, to really appreciate the small details that added in with the performances make one of the best films of the year.
Looperis out today on Blu-Ray, DVD and Instant Video.