Star Wars TV Show News

Disney has given the executive producer job for the upcoming Star Wars live action series to Jon Favreau (Iron Man). Favreau will also be writing for the show.

The series will be shown on Disney’s streaming service, along with their other content. Disney is pulling their stuff from Netflix in preparation for the launch of the service next year.

StarWars.com has more info here.

#StarWars #Disney


The Grinch Trailer

A trailer for The Grinch has dropped. Starring the voice of Benedict Cumberbatch, the movie will be out on November 9th in the U.S. and the U.K.

Enjoy – if you can – the grumpiness:

#BenedictCumberbatch #TheGrinch

I finally got to see Marvel’s Black Panther a couple of days ago so I’ll throw my thoughts out there. There are some minor spoilers in this review in case you haven’t seen the film and want to remain spoiler-free, although most of what I have to say below you can figure out from the trailer.

Black Panther is one of the few films to get a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes’ famed Tomatometer. I would give it 4 stars out of 5, my quibbles with it to be explained below.

First, it is a movie applauded for a lot of good reasons – a majority black cast, starring Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther, Lupita Nyong’o and Angela Bassett; and a black director (and co-writer), Ryan Coogler. The setting is the fictional African country of Wakanda. The plot is this: the King of Wakanda has died, and T’Challa, his son, is set to take over, if he can defeat any challengers in hand-to-hand combat. He has the advantage of having taken a potion made from a flower that gives him superhuman strength. Or it’s supposed to, anyway. This is where one of my quibbles comes in – if he has this strength why is it he tends to get the crap beaten out of him more than once?

Anyway, T’Challa becomes King of Wakanda, which is not the third-world country the outside world thinks it is, but is in fact very technologically advanced. Some of its people believe they should share their knowledge with the rest of the planet, others are wary of what will happen to their country if they do. As it is, they are largely left alone, with (almost) no one outside of Wakanda the wiser as to what is really happening in their country.

Their other big advantage outside of technology is vibranium, an element that is used, among other things, to make Black Panther’s spiffy suit bulletproof. Wakanda has managed to keep this to themselves with the exception of the devious Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis), an arms trader and one of the two main baddies in the film (the other one being Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan)). Martin Freeman shows up as a CIA guy trying to take down Klaue (shades of Bilbo meeting Gollum)!

There are some very fierce female badasses in this one, as T’Challa’s guards (led by Danai Gurira as Okoye) are all female and definitely not to be messed with.

The visuals are all pretty amazing, as you would expect from a Marvel film. I will be surprised if it doesn’t garner some awards for costume and/or set design, not to mention special effects.

My other main quibble about the film is that T’Challa doesn’t spend enough time as Black Panther for me. Overall, however, it’s a small quibble for what is otherwise a groundbreaking Marvel movie. That Marvel made this movie with an almost entirely black cast and a black director, with the political themes it has, well, that is in and of itself a very big deal. But it should not be forgotten that now 95-year old Stan Lee (who yes, does have a cameo in this film), and the late Jack Kirby wrote the original Black Panther comic back in 1965, only one year after the Civil Rights Act was passed. Kudos to them for having the vision to create a black superhero, not on some distant planet but right here on Earth.

Below is a trailer:


Here’s the spot for Avengers: Infinity War that was shown during the Super Bowl. You can see the film on May 4th:

And finally, after much waiting, here is a teaser trailer for Solo: A Star Wars Story. This is supposed to be Han’s origin story, but I just can’t get into Alden Ehrenreich as Han. Maybe I’ll just call him Fred. It’s Fred Solo, Han’s brother or something.

Anyway, here’s that trailer – the film is out May 25th:

#AvengersInfinityWar #HanSolo #StarWars

The Lake House Book Review

The Lake House is the first book of Kate Morton’s I have read. At 600 pages long, it was a good thing I had a long weekend ahead of me (and absolutely no desire to do anything like housework) when I downloaded it. I really liked the first 550 pages or so of it – my quibbles are mostly with the ending.

First, don’t confuse it with the Sandra Bullock/Keanu Reeves movie of 2006. The book was published in 2015 by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster.

Morton is Australian, but the book is set in England. Below is the official synopsis from Amazon:

Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories.

One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. He is never found, and the family is torn apart, the house abandoned.

Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as a novelist. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old Edevane estate—now crumbling and covered with vines. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone…yet more present than ever.

The story is a mystery with as many twists and turns as a mountain road. It spans decades of the Edevane family  history, from Alice’s parents falling in love, through her father’s service in World War I and his return, to Alice and her two sisters’ lives at their beloved lake home and the mysterious disappearance of their baby brother. Sadie is a cop on forced leave who becomes interested – or maybe I should say obsessed – with finding out what happened to little Theo. Sadie’s part of the story comes in 2003, so Theo at that point has been missing for decades. Will Alice, a successful mystery writer, help Sadie discover what happened to her baby brother? Or does she already know what happened?

As a mystery it’s very good. When you think Sadie has it all figured out, something will twist the story in another direction. The chapters flit back and forth between time periods, which is something you’ll either like or you don’t, but I liked it. My issue with the book was that the ending seemed rushed (after 600 pages!), and it all tied up too neatly and a bit twee for my liking. But if you like a long book and are looking for a new mystery author this may fit the bill. I liked it well enough to download another one of Morton’s, The Forgotten Garden. We’ll see how that one goes.

#TheLakeHouse #KateMorton

The Post Review

I went yesterday to see The Post, starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. Just having those two acting powerhouses together in one Steven Spielberg-directed film would make it worth seeing, but it turned out to be much more than just a really good film about an interesting moment in our nation’s history. If you haven’t seen the movie and are unaware of the history regarding Daniel Ellsberg and The Pentagon Papers, you may want to stop reading now if you want to go into it with no prior knowledge of what happened. Since this is a film about historical events I’m not going to worry about spoilers.

The Post is, of course, The Washington Post. It was founded in 1877. The paper passed through several hands until it was bought by Eugene Meyer in 1933. Meyer’s son-in-law, Philip Graham, became publisher in 1946. Philip committed suicide in 1963, and the paper passed into the hands of his widow, Katherine Graham, who is played by Streep. Katherine died in 2001.

Tom Hanks takes on the role of Ben Bradlee, then executive editor of the Post. Bradlee and Katherine both had friends high in Washington political and social circles. In particular, Katherine was good friends with some of President Richard Nixon’s inner circle, including Robert McNamara (Bruce Greenwood). This made it a little ticklish to report on some of the events of the time, as shown in the film, which centers around the publishing of classified documents that proved people in the U.S. government knew the Vietnam War was unwinnable years before it was halted. Matthew Rhys plays Daniel Ellsberg, a military analyst who surreptitiously copied thousands of pages of documents (referred to as The Pentagon Papers) proving the American public was being lied to about the war.

A focus of the film is the agonizing decision whether or not to publish the top secret documents, which the Post obtained after The New York Times. The Times had already published some of the documents, and they were looking at legal trouble for having done so. The threat was no small one – if convicted Graham and Bradlee could both have gone to jail.

In addition, the paper was facing financial issues, and it was during this time that they were forced to offer stock in an IPO. The stock for the IPO was in legal limbo. There was a clause in the contract that if something major happened during the week after the stock was issued, but before it had officially been sold, the transaction could be cancelled altogether. The existence of the paper was literally on the line.

The film also focused on Graham working as the female head of a newspaper in a world dominated by men. She had never held a job until her husband’s death forced her into the position of publisher. She was the first female CEO of a Fortune 500 company. It was a time when most women never held such positions of power. How appropriate that this film would debut as we are having this moment in history when women are finding voices to speak out about unequal pay, sexual harassment, and employment opportunity.

Liz Hannah wrote the screenplay in 2016. Ms. Hannah is a first-time screenwriter, and is only 32 years old. I hope she gets an Oscar nomination for her work. Here is a link to a CBS News story about Ms. Hannah and Amy Pascal, who found the screenplay and decided to produce it.

Unfortunately, at least in my view, the Post was bought by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos in 2013.

The last scene of The Post, with its break-in at the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters at the Watergate complex in D.C., mimics almost exactly the opening scene in the 1976 film All The President’s Men, which I decided to view just after watching The Post. That film centers on Post reporters Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) as they investigate the Watergate break-in. Their reporting was instrumental in Richard Nixon eventually resigning from the presidency. If you get a chance to see this after The Post, I recommend you do so.

Below is a trailer for The Post:

#ThePost #MerylStreep #TomHanks #LizHannah

Black Panther Featurette

Here’s a little featurette from Marvel on the upcoming Black Panther.  Star Chadwick Boseman, director Ryan Coogler, Marvel’s Kevin Feige and Stan Lee (co-creator of the character) talk about the film. It will be out in theaters on February 16th.


It is not going to go the way you think – Luke Skywalker to Rey

Well, he was right about that.  This movie didn’t go the way I thought it would.  Sorry to be a  little late with a review, but today was the first time I had a chance to see it.

It’s hard to write a spoiler-free review, but I’ll give it a try.  I wasn’t a big fan of this one, and someone who went with me described it as schmaltzy and badly written.  Ouch!  Writer/director Rian Johnson has been given the keys to an entire new trilogy of SW films, so we’ll see how that goes.  I have to agree that it was schmaltzy, she had that right.  There are a lot of callbacks to the original films, and at one point I was wondering if Johnson was going to have an original thought.

Having said that, there are some things to like – namely, BB8 and the Porgs are as adorable as we knew they would be.  The crystal fox-like creatures are, according to Nerdist, called Vulptices (plural) or Vulptex (singular), and they are beautiful.  You can tell I like the creatures, eh?  Also look for BB-9E, the Darth Vader of the droid world, as well as a surprise appearance by a character from one of the original films.

And yes, we finally find out who Rey’s parents were.

Some of the things I wasn’t so crazy about include, as I mentioned before, lots and lots of emoting, interrupted by some action sequences that were a bit repetitive, although it was a lot of fun seeing the Millenium Falcon in action again.  Things I thought (and hoped) would happen didn’t.  The ending wasn’t what I would have written, either.  This does feel like it’s a movie that’s setting up for the next one more than one that is a good movie on its own.  I’m glad I saw it, but I don’t feel a need to watch it again.  Of course it’s a little sad to watch anyway, knowing that Carrie Fisher passed away after the completion of filming.

Now about some other things… there are way too many trailers before movies these days.  The only one out of a dozen trailers (or so it felt) that I want to see is Avengers: Infinity War.  Now that we have reserved seating in the theater, I think I’ll get there about half an hour later than the official start time of a film, because I’m over having so.many.trailers!

The other thing I wanted to mention, in case you were wondering, is that there are no scenes in the credits, so you don’t have to stay for those unless you just want to.  This is not a Marvel film, where watching the credits is pretty much required.

Below is a trailer:

#StarWars #TheLastJedi

Cumberbatch on PBS and in Rio

Benedict Cumberbatch’s A Child In Time has been scheduled for April 1 on PBS’ Masterpiece.  Cumberbatch plays a father whose child goes missing, and Kelly Macdonald co-stars as his wife.  The show will be 90 minutes, and is a joint production of Pinewood Studios and Cumberbatch’s SunnyMarch production company.  It is an adaptation of the novel by Ian McEwan. Below is a trailer:

Benedict is also scheduled to do the film Rio with Jake Gyllenhaal and, as reported by Variety, possibly Michelle Williams.  The plot, as described by IMDb.com, is this: “A financial reporter travels to Rio de Janeiro to visit a wealthy friend, only to get sucked into a plot to fake his friend’s death.”  Sounds interesting.  Gyllenhaal plays the reporter, while Cumberbatch is the rich friend.  I hope they change the title, though, otherwise some might think it’s another movie about some adorable animated parrots.

#BenedictCumberbatch #JakeGyllenhaal #AChildInTime

The full trailer for Avengers: Infinity War has finally arrived!

The plot is simple – the powerful Thanos (Josh Brolin) wants to rule the cosmos by obtaining all six Infinity Stones.  Our superheroes are going to attempt to stop him.  Among them: Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Loki (Tom Hiddleston), The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Spider-Man (Tom Holland), and The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan).  Alongside are the Guardians of the Galaxy Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Nebula (Karen Gillan), Drax (Dave Bautista), Groot (Vin Diesel), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), and Mantis (Pom Klementieff).  Paul Bettany makes his first appearance as Vision, Chadwick Boseman is Black Panther, and Elizabeth Olsen is Scarlet Witch.  There are more, but you get the idea – Marvel is throwing a lot of superheroes at the problem!

Here’s the trailer – enjoy:

The film will be released on May 4, 2018.

#InfinityWar #ChrisEvans #BenedictCumberbatch #TomHiddleston

More Star Wars

Disney has announced that Rian Johnson, who wrote and directed Star Wars: The Last Jedi will be writing an entirely new trilogy, and directing at least the first one.

Johnson is being given free rein to create an entirely new cast of characters separate from the current SW universe.  To be given that opportunity when The Last Jedi has not even been released yet shows that Disney and Lucasfilm are extremely pleased with what Rian did on that film.  We’ll be able to see for ourselves when it arrives on December 15th.


Yes, I was able to sneak in a viewing today of Thor: Ragnarok.  Chris Hemsworth is back as Thor, with Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Cate Blanchett as Hela, Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster, Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, a.k.a. The Hulk, Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie, and Benedict Cumberbatch as The Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Strange.

Direction is by Taika Waititi, who seems to have taken a page out of James Gunn’s book and laid the comedy on pretty thick.   Not even the very villainous Hela is above cracking at least one joke.

And Cate Blanchett’s Hela is definitely one of the best things about this film.  Also in that category: the too short but funny bit with Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange; the cameo by Stan Lee; Hiddleston’s Loki, and the use of Led Zeppelin’s The Immigrant Song.

If I have a gripe about it at all I thought there was too much time spent with the Grandmaster.  After all, it was Hela who was really wreaking havoc on Asgard and I don’t think there was enough screen time spent with her and Thor together.  But despite that, I’d say that if you liked the other Thor films you’ll like this one.

And yes, you will have to sit through the credits for a couple of scenes, one of which comes shortly after the end of the film and the other after the names of the thousands and thousands of people it takes to put together a film with this much CGI.  But stick it out, it’ll be worth it.

Below is a trailer – enjoy:


New Thor: Ragnarok Trailer

There’s a new Thor: Ragnarok trailer out.  ‘Nuff said – here it is:

And here’s a fun little featurette:

#ThorRagnarok #DoctorStrange

As reported by Deadline, The Weinstein Co. is pulling The Current War off the November schedule and pushing it into sometime in 2018, making it ineligible for this year’s Oscars.

The film stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Thomas Edison and Michael Shannon as George Westinghouse, and centers around their competition with each other (and Nikola Tesla).

The current sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein made that company’s films unpalatable.  Cumberbatch himself had slammed Weinstein publicly for his behavior, which makes one wonder if he would decide not to promote it.  In addition, the film had been reworked some after mixed reviews.

There’s no word on a new release date.

#TheCurrentWar #BenedictCumberbatch

If you haven’t seen the series finale of AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire, Ten of Swords, read further at your own risk.  I’m going to do this review assuming that either you’ve seen it, or that you don’t mind spoilers.  If you’d like to catch up, go here to the website to see the season four episodes.

It’s a shame that Halt never got the audience it deserved.  It got plenty of love from critics, especially in the last two seasons, but it never became a ratings blockbuster.  It had an amazing cast, with Lee Pace (one of those actors whom I believe is capable of doing literally anything), as Joe MacMillan; Scoot McNairy as Gordon Clark; Mackenzie Davis as Cameron Howe; Kerry Bishe as Donna Clark, and Toby Huss as John (Bos) Bosworth.

It started with Joe as almost a literal wrecking ball, manipulating others into buying into whatever his vision of the moment was.  The character was an unlikeable brute when the show first began.  Cameron was a genius programmer but working with her was like trying to nail Jell-O to a wall.  Donna and Gordon, married with two small girls when the series first started and later divorced with teenagers, were supposedly the grounded ones.  Hardware was their specialty; they had invented a computer themselves, but it never got off the ground commercially.

And that seems to have been the theme with Halt.  The foursome worked on great ideas that were either never successful, or that worked for a while until someone else came up with something better.  That is, if frayed relationships between them didn’t sink a project first.

In the 1990’s technology was moving fast, maybe too fast for small companies like Mutiny and Comet to compete.  Every time they’d get their product out there someone else would come up with another that made theirs obsolete.  The company where Donna becomes the managing partner has money and isn’t dependent on just one piece of software, so it survives where Comet fails.  Rover is just one piece of the pie for them, one they can afford to jettison when it gets eclipsed by something with a funny name – Yahoo.

But Halt was not just about the emerging technology.  It’s about connecting with other people, via the Internet (remember Mutiny’s Community?), as well as the personal connections they made with each other.  As Joe liked to say, computers “weren’t the thing, they were the thing that gets you to the thing.”  And the “thing” was connecting with people.

By the second season the Cameron and Donna characters were coming to the forefront of the show.  In the last episode we see just how intertwined those two had become, when Cameron first brings up the idea that she and Donna work together again, and Cameron isn’t talking about joining Donna’s firm.  When Donna asks her if she has an idea for something new, Cameron tells her the idea will come later, she just wanted them to work together again.  In a scene where the two of them visit the now vacant Comet offices they run through the possibility, but decide that it would end up like Mutiny.  Cameron tells Donna that this time, though, it wouldn’t break their friendship.  Donna pushes the idea away, until Cameron is getting ready to pull out of town with her Airstream, and then she rushes out of the diner to stop her, with just four words: “I have an idea.”

We never find out what the idea was (something akin to Facebook maybe?), but it’s great that their friendship and partnership is going to continue.

Then we come to Joe and Gordon.  Joe needed Gordon to help carry out his ideas, and Gordon needed Joe to give them to him.  When Gordon died Joe was lost.  His relationship with Haley (Susanna Skaggs) was sweet, particularly when he recognizes that Haley is gay and gently tries to tell Gordon how to help her.  Being bisexual Joe understands the difficulties of navigating that minefield, particularly in the 90’s.  By series end Joe is almost the opposite of how he started.  He’s a big ol’ softie who realizes that his relationship with Cameron isn’t working and he’s lost his best friend Gordon.  I think he also realizes that his ideas were big, but that maybe he’s not capable of making them come to fruition, particularly now that he no longer has Gordon the hardware guy and Cameron the programming genius.  His original idea for Comet wasn’t going to work – Haley was the one who devised the actual software.  He needs a reluctant Cameron to put a fix in for Comet as he can’t do it himself, but when she does so they realize Yahoo has – gasp – toolbars, making Comet instantly obsolete.

So Joe ends up as he began, teaching.  Humanities courses of all things!  He starts the class as he did with the one where he found Cameron, with the words “Let me start by asking a question.”  He’s come full circle, but he’s not the same Joe he was then.  On his desk there are pictures of Gordon, Cameron and Haley, his makeshift family.  Also in his office is an old Cardiff computer.  He’s starting over, but this time he’s taking with him things from his past that wouldn’t have mattered to the old Joe.

It’s interesting that the writers, after the first series, started concentrating so much on the Donna and Cameron characters.  This last episode in particular was all about women in technology.  Donna has a party at her house for all the ladies in her firm, and gives a moving speech about how she has made it in that world.  Haley is taking college-level C++ classes.  Cameron’s software expertise along with Donna’s hardware know-how come into play when Haley has a problem with her computer.  Even in 2017 women can relate to how hard it can be to make it in a male-dominated field.  That co-creators Chris Rogers and Chris Cantwell are men makes an important statement.

So the series ends after four years with the best episodes of the show.  If there’s any justice in this world, there will be Emmy nominations forthcoming.

#HaltAndCatchFire #LeePace


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