his dark materials season 2 review

Last year, His Dark Materials arrived at the epic fantasy arena with big ambitions and big visions of the future. But the first season of the BBC/HBO series adaptation of Philip Pullman’s acclaimed trilogy had the unfortunate tendency to put the cart before the horse, resulting in a solid but tonally uneven debut season that really just wanted to get to the meat of the story. But now, with the second season of His Dark Materials, we’ve arrived at the meat, and it’s a veritable feast of breathtaking visuals and thrilling adventure.

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his dark materials lyra's jordan review

His Dark Materials wants you to take it seriously now. And with the first episode of HBO and BBC’s TV series adaptation of Philip Pullman‘s beloved fantasy adventure novels, it achieves just that — albeit to both positive and negative effects.

Long tucked away in the children’s sections of libraries and bookstores, the His Dark Materials novels have legions of fans who have desperately wished for Pullman’s twist on Milton’s Paradise Lost to be taken seriously as a smart, even times philosophical, fantasy adventure story. In its first episode, “Lyra’s Jordan,” it’s clear that His Dark Materials TV series is most definitely “made for adults.” Prestige director Tom Hooper bestows upon the series a muted color palette and lots of shadowy corners for the whispered schemes to take place, while Jack Thorne‘s script crafts a vast web of intersecting storylines that are much more complicated than that of the book’s original adventure story revolving around the bull-headed orphan Lyra Belacqua (Dafne Keen) on a quest to rescue her friend. But by shifting the focus away from Keen’s fiery little heroine, we never get to really know “Lyra’s Jordan” or the rich, vibrant world that Pullman created — the first episode is a little too heavy on table-setting and a little too fixated on those shadowy corners.

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his dark materials review

We do not speak of the 2007 feature film The Golden Compass. Chris Weitz’s botched adaptation of the acclaimed Philip Pullman fantasy novel came at the tail end of a string of Harry Potter knock-offs, and suffered from being reduced into a typical children’s fantasy adventure without all the religious themes and dark undertones that made Pullman’s epic inversion of Milton’s Paradise Lost so great. But I’m inevitably going to draw comparisons to that nonsensical disaster of a film in this review of His Dark Materials, HBO and BBC’s lavish, enthralling, and infinitely more successful adaptation.

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his dark materials teaser trailer

BBC has released the first look at its big-budget adaptation of His Dark Materials. The teaser trailer gives audiences a glimpse at the star-studded cast of the fantasy miniseries, which is set to adapt all three novels of Philip Pullman‘s acclaimed fantasy series, led by James McAvoy, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ruth Wilson, and Dafne Keen.

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his dark materials season 2

Update: HBO, perhaps noting that they will soon have an epic fantasy-shaped hole in their schedule when Game of Thrones ends next year, has joined the production of BBC’s His Dark Materials. According to Deadline, the prestigious American network will act as a co-producer on the series, distributing it outside of the United Kingdom. Our original story continues below.

Fans of Philip Pullman‘s formidable fantasy series His Dark Materials have been nervously anticipating the BBC’s lavish adaptation — and for good reason. The first attempt at adapting the ambitious three-book saga about two children who take on the Kingdom of Heaven was an expensive dud that squandered its perfect cast.

Now BBC’s His Dark Materials has recruited a promising cast, an Oscar-winning director, and an equally lofty budget, but the question remains: Will it be good? BBC seems to think so, renewing His Dark Materials for a second season before the show even hits the airwaves. Now that’s something that even an alethiometer couldn’t have foreseen.

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His Dark Materials movie

Philip Pullman‘s His Dark Materials series is getting adapted for the screen, again. The King’s Speech director Tom Hooper will helm a new BBC adaptation of the YA fantasy series, and Logan breakout Dafne Keen will star. Also, rumor has it that Hamilton‘s Lin-Manuel Miranda has joined the cast as well. More on the new His Dark Materials adaptation below.

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x 23 spin off

Logan was as much about bringing a satisfying end to the long and hard journey of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine as it was about the beginning of Laura’s (Dafne Keen) story as the fierce runaway X-23 clone.

Keen stole the scenes as the stoic and bullish Laura, who becomes a surrogate daughter to Logan, and was implied at the end of Logan to shoulder his burden as the next Wolverine. The open ending to James Mangold‘s film would have been powerful enough, but we’re in the superhero genre — the story never ends. Mangold is already working on a spin-off to Logan, centered around Keen’s Laura. And it’s largely thanks to Wonder Woman that an X-23 spin off could happen.

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logan trailer breakdown

Logan couldn’t be a better success story. Hugh Jackman got to go out on a high note, the R-rated movie surpassed expectations at the box-office, and the whole endeavor received love all around from audiences, comic book fans, and critics. Making Logan‘s journey all the more satisfying is its return to theaters with a black and white cut, which will be on this month’s Blu-Ray release.

Also on the home video release is a deleted scene with Caliban (Stephen Merchant). Below, watch the Logan deleted scene (Spoilers are ahead).

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Scott Frank interview

Right from the start of Logan, it’s obvious James Mangold‘s film isn’t your average superhero movie. Putting aside the R-rating the filmmaker doesn’t waste, there’s also the fact that comic book heroes rarely look as broken and feel as real as Hugh Jackman does in his final outing as the beloved mutant. The story isn’t about a hero who saves the day; it’s about a man who desperately needs saving.

The unconventional comic book movie, which is always more interested in its three central characters than hurrying up to the next set piece, is co-written by Mangold, Michael Green (American Gods), and Scott Frank. Frank is the writer behind two knockout Elmore Leonard adaptations, the director of The Lookout and A Walk Among the Tombstones, and the author behind Shaker.

We recently spoke with Frank about Logan, his novel, and more after he wrapped shooting his western Netflix series, Godless. We’ll be sharing more from our conversation with the writer-director in the coming days, but in the meantime, you can read our spoiler discussion about Mangold’s film below.

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logan spoiler review

(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: James Mangold’s Logan.)

There has never been a superhero movie like Logan.

Paced like a ’70s drama, styled like a classic western, and powered by characters rather than action, director James Mangold has concluded the saga of Hugh Jackman‘s Wolverine with a powerful pop rather than an empty bang.  Like the very different Deadpool, this is a superhero movie, an X-Men movie, that is beholden only to itself. It has shrugged off its masters and is all the better for it.

And while most superhero movies dwell on surface pleasures, Logan offers meat to chew on. Bloody and bitter meat, but meat thoughtfully and carefully prepared. Let’s take a deep dive into what makes Logan so special and so different.

Spoilers head, of course.

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