Why Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them actually represents something new

fantastic-beasts-where-find-them-movie-poster.jpegWill you be seeing the latest Harry Potter world movie, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them when it hits theaters next week? The story follow Newt Scamander, a wizard with a luggage full of magical beasties, in 1920’s New York City. It is also the first in an expected five-movie series.

As far as I can tell, if that’s true, this will be the first non-adaptation movie that’s been announced to be developed as a series before it premieres and proves itself. It represents yet another shift in how studios and movie-goers see and experience movie sequels.

It’s as if tomorrow, Marvel were to announce that it was going to introduce a brand new superhero, never before seen in comics, for a five-movie series. Or if David Cameroon pronounced Avatar as the launching point of a four movie visual extravaganza before its first ticket sale. Continue reading

Book Watching: Superhero edition

Because comic books are books too, right? Here are the superhero and comic book adaptations coming soon, too soon, and not soon enough (depending on the movie).

I’m going to start with the shows, and then dive into some of the movies:

Powerless on NBC

DC Universe. It’s still all a bit vague and wishy-washy. But the rumor says this show may or may not follow the non-superpowered workers at an insurance company set in a DC superheroes-and-villains-exist universe.

Update: Right after writing this, I found myself the leaked trailer. Check it out:

Premiere: Late 2017? In the meantime, go read Trick of Light for pretty much the same premise, except also a ridiculous romance between a hunky supervillain and a geeky insurance man.

But you know which comic adaptation I’m super looking forward to?

Legion on FX

Part of Marvel’s X-Men universe, it follows the schizophrenic son of X-Men founder Charles Xavier. Except, you know, maybe he’s not schizophrenic at all. Maybe he has psychic powers.

Well, okay, we all know he totally does have powers. But the trick will probably be in seeing how long it takes him to figure that out.

Premiere: 2017. Probably late 2017. AKA not soon enough.

Iron Fist on Netflix

With the success of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and now Luke Cage, Netflix is on a roll. And it’s continuing to pull lesser known superpowered characters from the back-shelf of the superhero universe. In March 2017, we’ll get to see Marvel’s martial arts master Iron Fist adapted to the screen.

 

Premiere: March 17, 2017

Here’s the kicker (and you might already know this). There’s method to this fun Netflix madness. The channel is setting up a major crossover. All these characters, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage, make up The Defenders. You know, New York’s version of Avengers, so to speak.

It’s gonna be good. Even better, we’ll be seeing Jessica Jones return for a second season in 2017 as well. Continue reading

Book Watching: I’m really struggling to get excited about these

This week, I got TV on my mind. Book-to-TV adaptations, that is.

This is happening (TOMORROW):

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

So I’m kinda late to this game, really, because this book-to-movie adaptation is going live tomorrow. This bestseller first popped up on my radar because of Ava Green. She plays the headmistress lady and looks a lot like one of my friends who looks just like Helena Bonham Carter. (You just gotta get the angle right, but I swear they’re related, all three.)

Just based off the two covers, it looks like the book version went more gothy lit, while the movie version went more fantasy-action.

Has anyone read this book? It seems like an odd stepchild of Harry Potter and A Series of Unfortunate Events, with a dash of Lightning Thief  style action. Or something. But it’s out tomorrow if you want to see it.

Release date: September 30, 2016.

Luke Cage, from various comics by Marvel

Now, this one I’m a bit more interested in. So far, Netflix superhero adaptations has been 50-50 for me. I wasn’t a fan of Daredevil, but Jessica Jones is one of my all-time favorite superhero shows.

Luke Cage is the on-and-off love interest in Jessica Jones. From what I can tell, this stand-alone spin-off is going to take place before the events of Jessica Jones because I’m pretty sure that’s Luke’s wife in the trailer.

I’ve yet to see an invincible hero I liked, but maybe this character will be the one when this show drops tomorrow.

Release Date: September 3o, 2016

This is happening (more generally):

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

What a gorgeous, gorgeous trailer for a beautiful book. The story follows 13-year-old Conor who is bullied in boarding school and whose mother is dying of cancer. Throughout it all, Conor is visited by a monster who makes a deal with him. Perhaps it’s a dream. Perhaps it’s all in Conor’s imagination. Perhaps not.

I could watch this trailer forever.

 

Release date: January 12, 2017.

The Dark Tower by Steven King

Oh hey, remember these books? I’ve been hearing of this on and off for years, but it looks like this Stephen King series will be coming to a big screen near you in in a few months. One question, remains. How will Girl With The Dragon Tattoo director Nikolaj Arcel deal with this series’ crazy mix of fantasy, sci-fi and Western? It could go so wrong. (Or so right.) Continue reading

Redemption in Writing: How we pick who gets saved

I finally watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens last night. And it was really good. From characters to plot, it was both a great nostalgia flick and a neat addition to the canon. But it also reminded me what a huge role class and privilege play within movie universes when it comes to redemption storylines.

(This piece is going to include some mild spoilers, so watch out.)

One of the major subplots in the movie was whether the villainous Ren would reconcile with his parents and reject the dark side. Presumably, upon rejecting the dark side, he would return home, hug his mom, cry in the arms of his parents and then retreat to a Jedi monastery to think upon his misdeeds, or heroically join the battle against the dark side and his evil former mentor.

ren

Mind, this characters screen time included :

  • ordering the wholesale slaughter of an entire village,
  • running guy through with his light saber,
  • torturing a resistance fighter off-screen,
  • and colluding in the destruction of three to five heavily inhabited planets.

And this is just what happened during the movie. But his parents love him and want him to come home. Continue reading

Buddy Read with Tash | The 5th Wave

Last month, I dove into The Handmaid’s Tale and talked genre drift and the flavors of oppression across the books different international covers. (Check out Tash’s great insights here.)

thefifthwaveThis month, we decided to go in the Teen Alien Invasion Romance direction and tackle Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave. After all, the movie version just came out, it’s streaming on Amazon, AND the trailer promises an alien invasion with aliens taking over human brains. Who’s infested? Who’s still human? NO ONE KNOWS.

And also because, clearly, I learned nothing from watching The Host. Continue reading

Book Watching: Upcoming scifi and fantasy shows

This week, I got TV on my mind. Book-to-TV adaptations, that is.

This is happening:

American Gods by Starz

This trailer for the adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel dropped last week, and it is gorgeous. Full on dramatic imagery, powerful silhouette shots, and slow-motion drama, I’m feeling a visual vibe of The Fountain (2016) and the dark drama of Breaking Bad. I also wonder if the movie will lean more towards suspense rather than special effects.

Release date: 2017

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Netflix

They’ve already started shooting for sure, and IMDB says this series based on Lemony Snicket’s books, will premiere in August 2016. As in, this month. Except Netflix hasn’t only just finished filming and hasn’t even released an official trailer yet (though a suspiciously well-made fan trailer has been making the rounds), so I’m not stocking up on popcorn yet. The show will star Neil Patrick Harris, Malina Weissman and Louis Hynes and was rumored to be quite a bit darker than the books.

Release date: Filming just finished, so…December 2016?

A-new-series-of-unfortunate-events

His Dark Materials by BBC

Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials trilogy is coming to a TV near you (no, not the 2007 movie). I’ve been hearing about this one on and off for a while, but facts remain sparse. It sounds like pre-production has been scheduled for this fall (so, now?) and filming will take place in Wales at the end of this year (maybe). Continue reading

[Book Watching] Summer hits and misses – The Host, The Hobbit…

The Host

hostWith this release, all of Stephanie Meyer’s books have officially been made into movies. When I got the book, I had very low expectations, and Host-the-book exceeded them by far (okay, low bar, but you know). Unfortunately, this meant that I went into the movie expecting a good movie. That it had Saoirse Ronan, who’s played the lead in Hanna and The Lovely Bones, and a great trailer soundtrack by Imagine Dragons didn’t help at all.

The movie floundered in all the places I would have expected, if I had turned on the critical thinking sector of my brain for a half minute or so before stepping into the theater. (I hadn’t). The movie struggled to convey the difficult relationship between Melanie and the alien inside her head, didn’t have the time to show the gradual and difficult way that Wanda finally achieved acceptance, and had to speed through a lot of the emotional relationship angst that I found both so incredibly annoying and riveting in the book. I say, see it if you land on it while flipping channels or scrolling around Netflix, but don’t agonize too much if don’t.


The Hobbit

the-hobbit-an-unexpected-journey-movie-poster-1.jpgI am still unconvinced that we need three movies to cover a 300-page book, especially when almost all of the battle scenes in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey dragged on just a bit too long. That said, I will totally grant that squishing it all into one movie would have been just as bad in the opposite direction. The Hobbit was entertaining, pretty, and a lot of fun in IMAX 3D – though less impressive when I watched it on a regular screen later. The special effects, as always, were great and the extra  scenes they brought in from outside The Hobbit flowed well with the story.

I give it three canaries. Totally worth seeing once, but maybe not twice.

Beautiful Creatures

beautiful creatures.jpgI picked up Beautiful-Creatures-the-book with the knowledge that the movie was coming out in less than a month. And when I put it down, I thought, “well, gosh, how in the world are the movie people gonna pull this off?” If you’ve read the book (or our review of it), you probably know what I’m talking about. There are plots within plots, and a lot of the emotional brunt of the story is all inside small-town misfit’s Ethan’s head.

Still, the movie pulls it off – mostly by cutting characters and snipping away at pivotal scenes. But this strategy means that what is left holds together in a coherent storyline with only a few questions left unexplained. I was pretty impressed. And what the movie couldn’t do with the original story, it more than made up with the great acting. Continue reading