Sam Flynn’s 7: The Week in Pop Culture – May 30-June 5

7. TV NEWS! Hannibal, X-Files, more 24, Arrested Development, Prison Break

  • Hannibal returns for its third season

Hannibal returned to NBC last night of this premiere and it was the start of a season series creator Bryan Fuller calls “the series [ he] always wanted to make.” The hour was a bottle episode following an on-the-run Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) in Europe mode with his captive/partner/psychiatrist Dr. Bedelia du Maurier (Gillian Anderson).

Fuller told THR (via DarkHorizons) that this season would have a lower body count than the previous, but would have much more narrative momentum as, essentially, a split season: half following Will Graham’s chase after Hannibal (with cues from both Hannibal and Hannibal Rising) and half adapting Red Dragon. Richard Armitage (The Hobbit trilogy) will play Francis Dolarhyde a.k.a. the titular serial killer “The Tooth Fairy.”

Despite being a low-rated, perpetually on-the-bubble broadcast show, Hannibal is one of the show’s on television, for fans of the cannibal’s mythology, for fans of bromances (you liked Knocked Up? I Love You, Man? Hannibal will work for you), for fans looking for something scrumptious to look at in every way. Seriously the eye-gasmic cinematography and food alone are worth it – as long as you’re able to stomach it.

  • The X-Files adds Joel McHale as recurring guest star

Beloved cult comedy Community wrapped its sixth (and final?) season on Yahoo this week and lead Joel McHale – also known as the host of The Soup on E! – has become the first new castmember announced for the six-episode X-Files revival, premiering January 2016. McHale will play a conservative Internet news anchor who becomes an unlikely ally to Mulder. Series stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson return alongside fellow original castmember Mitch Pileggi. In a funny twist, both Duchovny and Anderson have already returned to TV in the last two weeks on respective NBC series Aquarius and Hannibal.

While known for his stand-up and comedy acting, McHale has delivered dramatic turns previously on a guest arc on Sons of Anarchy and as a police detective in last year’s horror film Deliver Us from Evil.

In related X-news, TVLine reports that second episode will likely be a sequel to classic Season 4 episode “Home” (also the second of its season). It followed Mulder and Scully as they came up against an inbred family in the South. Original episode scribe Glen Morgan return to write/direct the follow-up. The title of this new one? “Home Again.”

  • 24, Prison Break, and Arrested Development plan returns to the small screen 

Brian Glazer confirmed that a fifth season of Arrested Development will film at the top of 2016 for a Netflix release later that year. Its’ previous network, FOX, has hopped on the “bring-back-hit-series-from-the-dead” train with X-Files, 24 and Prison Break franchises set for returns. A new male lead being sought for the new series – it could go limited or regular – while Jack Bauer himself Kiefer Sutherland has the option to continue as a guest star. The stars of Prison Break Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell – who re-team on this fall’s CW show DC’s Legends of Tomorroware said to be excited to return, with production taking place during their summer hiatus next year.

6. Nikolaj Arcel to direct Stephen King’s The Dark Tower adaptation

Stephen King’s The Dark Tower is his magnum opus, telling the story of a lone gunslinger in a fantasy Western-land called Midworld and his quest to reach the center of existence – The Dark Tower. The film adaptation has followed a similarly winding path to production bouncing from J.J. Abrams to Ron Howard, with ambitious talk of both movies and TV series to tell King’s massive, sprawling, universe-interlocking series.

Now, Deadline broke that Swedish writer/director Nikolaj Arcel, best known stateside for writing the Swedish adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, has accepted the massive task (one might say Quest) to bring The Dark Tower to the screen for Sony. He previously directed the critically-acclaimed A Royal Affair, which was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2012. He will first re-write the script based primarily on the first book by Akiva Goldsman & Jeff Pinkner. Sony will co-finance the franchise-play with Media Rights Capital (MRC).

I wish him luck. There are so many genres in King’s masterwork, so many characters, different universes, timelines, and so much that would be hard to tell without first telling his ENTIRE collected works first. There are reasons such film giants as Abrams and Howard balked on this one, why Cary Fukunaga can’t get the best version of It on screen, and why every Stephen King film seems to suck.

5. All-male Transformers brain trust gets a shot of femininity

Since Akiva Goldsman was hired by Paramount to create a writer’s brain trust to create a “Transformers Cinematic Universe,” the list of prisoners in robot-land has grown week-to-week. Initially Robert Kirkman, Zak Penn, Jeff Pinkner, Art Marcum, and Matt Holloway were announced, to be joined by Andrew Barrer & Gabriel Ferrari (rumored for a Cybertron origin film titled Transformers One)  and then, thankfully, this week human beings without Y chromosomes got a chance to add something, anything to this braindead film franchise.

Christina Hodson and Lindsey Beer (great last name, Lindsey, keep up the good work already) joined on June 2, though it was not said what film or films they are to be working on. Not two days later, Geneva Robertson-Dwaret and Ken Nolan were also added, bringing the total writers in this cluster to a whopping 12, including Goldsman. He also elaborated to Deadline about the writer’s room and how it operates.

“There is such reciprocity between TV and movies now, that we’re borrowing this from TV. I got a taste of this from JJ Abrams when I came in to write an episode of Fringe, and then Jeff Pinkner let me hang around for four years like the drunk uncle. The whole process of the story room was really delightful, and we are seeing it more in movies as this moves toward serialized storytelling. There are good rooms around town, including the Monsters Room at Universal, the Star Wars room, and of course, at Marvel. We’re trying to beg, borrow and steal from the best of them, and gathered a group of folks interested in developing and broadening this franchise. There is a central corridor of movies that has been proceeding quite well, but our challenge will be to answer, where do we go from here?”

Their first meeting will be at the Paramount offices Monday, June 7. Their first mission, according to Goldsman (via Deadline) is to immerse themselves in the lore of the Hasbro toyline so they can create a cohesive mythology.

“We’ve got a work space that is beautifully production designed to be immersive with a strong sense of the franchise history. We will look at the toys, the TV shows, the merchandise, everything that has been generated by Hasbro, from popular to forgotten iterations, and establish a mythological time line. It has been designed with a lot of visual help, toys, robots, sketches and writers and artists. After that super saturation, the writers will figure out not one, but numerous films that will extend the universe.”

The goal is to get a fifth Transformers ready for a Summer 2017 release for the Baymeister himself (that’s Michael Bay, in case I was too subtle) while he finishes up on his Benghazi action-drama 13 Hours. A flood of spinoffs, prequels, interquels etc. will be sure to follow. Yay.

4. Spider-Man: Turn Off the Endless Rumor Carousel

Initially it looked like Drew Goddard (The Cabin in the Woods, writer on this fall’s The Martian) would nab the job writing and directing Marvel & Sony’s new Spider-Man reboot. After all, he’d worked with Marvel previously writing and exec producing their Netflix series Daredevil (review here) and had left that gig to develop a Sinister Six film to direct. Seems like a natural transition into a full-fledged Spider-Man flick, right? But last fall’s infamous Sony leak revealed Goddard’s departure from Daredevil was not amicable and with the previous Amazing Spider-Man series scuttled, the spinoff’s development was halted.

With Goddard’s chances looking as likely as being an alien abductee and the search for the new Spider-Man actor elongates further (It’s Asa Butterfield! Wait, Tom Holland’s still got a shot! Wait, they’re flying in a bunch of new actors to Atlanta!), the director list has become the new list to watch. We all love lists, right? Here’s who they’re looking at according to Hollywood mouthpiece / daily trade Deadline (leaking to the press is a good way for studio execs to gauge fan response when making these selections):

  • Ted Melfi, director of last year’s star-studded indie St. Vincent
  • Jonathan Levine, director of The Wackness, 50/50, Warm Bodies, and this fall’s X-Mas
  • Jon Watts, director of this year’s Sundance hit Cop Car
  • the guys directing this summer’s Vacation reboot (they have names, I’m sure)

If you’re thinking all these guys sound like Marc Webb, who was last plucked from obscurity after a successful dramedy indie, you’re right! History repeating my friends, it looks like. Of ’em all, I agree with Devin Faraci of Birth.Movies.Death – Jonathan Levine has the most experience and deft touch. Even better? Faraci says he’s a native New Yorker, just like our kid hero Peter Parker. It’s so fitting that it almost definitely won’t happen. The new film, rumored to be titled Spider-Man: The New Avenger, will hit July 28, 2017.

3. TRAILERS – Everest, Macbeth, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

The Tom Cruise-in-mortal-danger-for-our-entertainment series returns. Disappointingly, it does little to convince this Renner-phile that he didn’t film his scenes at a Mariott on a weekend off from Avengers: Age of Ultron (my review here). That said, they’ve committed to trying to top themselves in the stunt departments and as Mad Max: Fury Road proved last month (that review here) practical effects will always trump CGI. Always. Rogue Nation hits July 31.

Macbeth stars the best actor this side of Tom Hardy, Michael Fassbender with the Oscar-winning Marion Cotillard as his scheming Lady Macbeth. The epicness on display, the acting, the cinematography, it all makes me want to watch a Shakespeare movie. Not something I normally do and I say that as a guy who played Bottom in my high-school’s rendition of A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream. I just find previous film adaptations boring (yes, even Kenneth Branagh’s oeuvre). But for Fassbender? I’ll give it a shot.

The scale is immediate with the trailer for Everest. High peaks, helicopter shots, rotating to show the breadth of the Himalays, it’s all breathtaking, and even more so when you’re reminded it was filmed in IMAX 3D. As a kid, I remember seeing a documentary on Everest at Cleveland Ohio’s OmnIMAX screen and being wowed by it. This true story is based on a disastrous 1994 climbing expedition up-and-down the world’s largest mountain.

Starring an ensemble led by Jason Clarke (man, who expected Clarke to explode a few years ago?), he’s joined by Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Sam Worthington, with Keira Knightley, and Robin Wright relegated to the worried-wife roles. Most interestingly, Michael Kelly (of House of Cards fame) plays writer Jon Krakauer (of Into the Wild fame), whose phenomenal 1996 book Into Thin Air originally documented the terrifying tale of survival the group endured on the way down the legendary mountain.

2. 3rd Tron film cancelled by Disney

Bad news, Sam Flynn fans (population: me). Our return to the big-screen is not to be as Disney has cancelled development on TRON 3 which just as early as last month had been lining up stars Garrett Hedlund and Olivia Wilde to return. Now THR reports that the poor performance of Disney’s original sci-fi flick Tomorrowland might’ve spooked the mouse about committing to a third feature after 2010’s TRON: Legacy was not a smashing success.

Confession: I still haven’t seen TRON: Legacy, but I will always love it because I finally have an action figure literally named Sam Flynn. Which just proves once again people, the importance of patents. I would have made a killing on the merchandising back-end.

1. James Wan will direct Aquaman, Robotech

The future of the Wan is known.

With the highest-grossing film of the year under his belt Furious 7 (until Star Wars hits, if Avengers: Age of Ultron can’t quite get there), James Wan has moved very sharply from horror movie auteur to A-List filmmaker. His talents were being sought for both Warner Bros. upcoming DC superhero feature Aquaman starring Jason Momoa and Sony’s long-gestating anime adaptation Robotech. So what is Wan to do? Cut the knot and do both.

Already set to tackle the sequel to 2013 horror hit The Conjuring this fall for release June 10, 2016, news broke early Wednesday he had officially signed to direct Aquaman, which had a July 27, 2018 release date set last fall. It will be the seventh feature part of WB’s informally-dubbed D.C. Cinematic Universe. It’s preceded by next year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, 2017’s  Wonder Woman and Justice League – Part 1 as well as a Flash film in March 2018. Momoa will first cameo in Dawn of Justice and be a member of the two-part Justice League films.

Not long after, it was also confirmed he had committed to directing Robotech, with it in second position to his job on the Atlantean hero’s solo debut. Meaning: it’ll be a while before we see it. Wan is a workman though; he directed two films in both 2007 and 2013 and deftly handled the production upheaval on Furious 7 caused by Paul Walker’s untimely death. My bet is to expect Robotech in 2019.

About Sam Flynn

Wasting oxygen since 1992, Sam thanks the gods he doesn't believe in everyday his parents didn't discard him as an infant. It would have been the sensible thing to do.
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