writer's strike

With a May 2 negotiating deadline right around the corner, a push from plenty of writers via social media, and an overwhelming vote yesterday in favor of authorizing a strike, it’s safe to assume that the Writers Guild of America (WGA) may again go on the picket line, aiming for fairer wages and a better health care plan. If you want more the details on why the guild is prepared to strike, we wrote a primer on everything you need to know.

WGA strikes aren’t entirely uncommon: in the last 60 years, they’ve gone on strike four times, the longest one taking 155 days in 1988. Most recently, the WGA went on strike for 100 days between November 2007 and February 2008. Because the landscape of film and TV had changed drastically since the 1988 strike, the impact on audiences was felt a little bit more notably. Relative to the current situation, looking back at the 2007-08 strike may offer a peek into what we can expect as audience members, presuming that the WGA goes on strike again next week.

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martinwarrior-redesign.indd

In an ideal world, Hollywood would focus entirely on wholly original films, from low-budget dramas to big-budget action/adventure/science-fiction stories. When the industry does go back to original storytelling, it can often yield major successes; we’re only a couple months removed from the low-budget original horror smash Get Out, released by Universal Pictures.

But hoping only gets you so far. Even the briefest look at the summer-movie calendar in 2017 and beyond offers sequels, prequels, remakes, reboots, revivals, and everything in between. Some of those movies, no doubt, will be a lot of fun, but that doesn’t mean that something new in the world of movie universes isn’t needed.

So, in the spirit of “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” here’s a humble suggestion to the industry: if you want to find the next great franchise, you just need to adapt the Redwall book series. This is an all-but-guaranteed moneymaker that (mercifully) would also be a wonderful adaptation. Why? Let’s explain.

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the lost city of z review

What is it about the jungle that lures in filmmakers like a siren song? Over the years, auteurs like Werner Herzog (Fitzcarraldo), Francis Ford Coppola (Apocalypse Now), and Peter Weir (The Mosquito Coast) have married the untold beauty of unexplored lands with the obsession that borders on insanity exemplified by protagonists who go deeper into those lands. Now, we have a new entry in the subgenre: The Lost City of Z, courtesy of writer/director James Gray, telling a true story of a British explorer who’s seduced by the jungles of South America once and is unable to shake their pull on his psyche. While The Lost City of Z is perhaps not as overheated a depiction of the madness of obsession as Fitzcarraldo or Apocalypse Now, it’s no less entrancing and enormous.

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colossal and little shop of horrors

(This post contains major spoilers from Colossal.)

Nacho Vigalondo’s new film Colossal begins with a novel high concept: what if a kaiju-style monster attacking innocent civilians was the manifestation of a random, unknowing stranger thousands of miles away? Anne Hathaway portrays that random stranger, whose growing awareness that her drunken exploits are inadvertently causing mayhem in South Korea causes a change in her lifestyle. But as the film progresses, Vigalondo reveals the wild card up his sleeve: this is less a monster movie and more a character study about the so-called “nice guy” in town (Jason Sudeikis) becoming unable and confronting the failure of his hapless dreams and choosing to wreak havoc instead. In this way, Colossal is a modern, dark flip-side to another monster-movie pastiche, the musical adaptation of Little Shop of Horrors.

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the fate of the furious review

The Fate of the Furious, like one of its heroes, wants to live life a quarter mile at a time. On a moment-to-moment basis, the eighth entry in the Fast and the Furious franchise offers visceral thrills that come close to rivaling some of the series’ standout chases. But as the film rides its way to an ice-bound conclusion that requires our heroes to literally stop World War III from happening, it becomes all-but-impossible to accept some of the leaps of logic Fate takes in how its characters treat each other and the fabled family. This is the first entry in a while that talks a bigger game than it walks (or drives).

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Finding Dory otters

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, and opinionated about something that makes us very happy…or fills us with indescribable rage. In this edition: why a new Oscar rule for Best Animated Film sets a frustrating precedent for the industry)

Last Friday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (or, as we all know them, the Oscars) announced a couple of new rules, one of which may have an enormous impact on the future of Best Animated Feature nominees.

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Ghost in the Shell review

The live-action remake of Ghost in the Shell is a cinematic cubic zirconia that thinks it’s a diamond. The real thing exists, and is much easier to recognize; even at its gloomy, stylish best, this version is a poser unable to hide its true nature. The 2017 Ghost in the Shell is itself a ghost, a trace of something familiar left behind that can’t quite replicate the sense of being introduced to a strange new world that feels disturbingly close to our own. Though many of the themes inherent in this story are still relevant in 2017, nearly 30 years after the Masamune Shirow manga was first published and more than 20 years after the release of the iconic anime, Ghost in the Shell fails to capitalize.

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beauty and the beast compared to the original

(In our Spoiler Reviews, we take a deep dive into a new release and get to the heart of what makes it tick…and every story point is up for discussion. In this entry: Bill Condon’s Beauty and the Beast.)

Once Walt Disney Pictures began adapting its animated classics for live-action, starting with Tim Burton’s 2010 take on Alice in Wonderland and moving into villain-centered fairy tales like Maleficent, it was a safe bet that a new version of Beauty and the Beast wouldn’t be too far behind. The 1991 film is beloved the world over and was a central part of pop culture for countless Millennials growing up. Plus, it garnered heaps of critical praise and a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars, the first for an animated film. So it’s no surprise that Disney has gone all-in with its live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast: it boasts an all-star cast including Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, Luke Evans, and more; its director, Bill Condon, has directed everything from entries in the Twilight Saga to the Dreamgirls musical adaptation; and its reported $160 million budget is evident in the sets, costumes, and extensive CGI.

But can the new Beauty and the Beast compare to the 1991 classic? Does this remake feel as timeless as the film that inspired its existence? Or do its changes — and there are quite a few — feel dull and lifeless? Let’s dive in and compare the original and its remake to find out.

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