BLADE RUNNER 2 Casts CAPTAIN PHILLIPS Star Barkhad Abdi

Alcon Entertainment has announced that they've cast Barkhad Abdi in the highly-anticipated sequel Blade Runner 2. You'll remember Abdi for earning an Oscar nomination for his work in his first movie ever, Captain Phillips. He'll star alongside notorious grump Harrison Ford (who seems really stoked about this movie), Ryan Gosling, Robin Wright, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Carla Juri, MacKenzie Davis, and Dave Bautista. Denis Villeneuve (Sicario, Prisoners) directs, Roger Deakins is the cinematographer, and the film hits theaters on October 6, 2017.

No word yet on the film's plot or who Abdi will be playing, but I have my fingers crossed he'll be some sort of spaceship captain.

Jon Snow’s Resurrection Was One of The Worst Aspects of GAME OF THRONES Season 6

They were the stabs felt 'round the world.

When the Night's Watch committed mutiny and murdered Lord Commander Jon Snow at the end of the fifth season of Game of Thrones, the show left viewers with a massive cliffhanger: was Jon, one of the main characters of the series, truly dead? I'd like to say fandom was divided on this issue, but it seemed (in my social and online circles) that 99% of people were convinced Jon being resurrected was inevitable. The show made sure to highlight Melisandre arriving at Castle Black right before the stabbing, and we'd already seen Beric Dondarrion resurrected earlier in the series through the power of the Lord of Light.

A popular theory (and my personal belief) about the decision to leave us on a cliffhanger was that showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss wanted George R.R. Martin to be able to have the honor of unveiling the truth about Jon's fate in his new novel, "The Winds of Winter." After all, the character was stabbed in a book that came out in 2011, leaving fans wondering for years about what would happen to him. Since Martin is notorious for taking a long time to write his dense novels, this would essentially be his last chance to bask in the glory of knowing that he'd beaten the show to some massive plot points. But sadly, Martin missed his deadline, and the book wasn't released between seasons as intended. The showrunners gave him his window, and he whiffed.

So after a tortuous off-season in which every cast member was asked a billion times about Jon's fate, set photos and videos became analyzed like the Zapruder film, and Kit Harington's every move was tracked and posted by rabid Twitter users, the showrunners brought Jon back to life at the end of the second episode of season six. Entertainment Weekly, HBO's mouthpiece of choice for all official Game of Thrones announcements (and set visits, interviews, and post-mortems) released a huge cover story, and that's where the trouble started for me. The network put forth the narrative that the character's resurrection was going to change him in a profound way, with the EW writer claiming "the Jon Snow who wakes up has changed dramatically." Here's the worst example:

EW: How does death change Jon Snow?
Harington: At first I was worried that he’ll wake up and he’s the same, back to normal — then there’s no point in that death. He needs to change. There’s a brilliant line when Melisandre asks: “What did you see?” And he says: “Nothing, there was nothing at all.” That cuts right to our deepest fear, that there’s nothing after death. And that’s the most important line in the whole season for me. Jon’s never been afraid of death, and that’s made him a strong and honorable person. He realizes something about his life now: He has to live it, because that’s all there is. He’s been over the line and there’s nothing there. And that changes him. It literally puts the fear of God into him. He doesn’t want to die ever again. But if he does, he doesn’t want to be brought back.

Benioff said something similar in that week's Inside The Episode video:

We were talking about the idea that you do lose something and you're forever changed. Not in a supernatural way — he's still Jon — but he's been dead. That is a haunting experience because if that's really what's beyond, and what's beyond is nothing, just the terror of knowing that...

For me, it seems obvious that Harington had a right to be worried. Jon came back, and while he was a little more shell-shocked than usual for a while, he pretty much seemed like the same character we knew from before. For the show to truly hammer home the idea that death and resurrection changed this character in a major way, we needed to see A) some actions that were wildly different than anything he'd done before so we could experience his internal change through his outward behavior, or B) spend more quiet time with Jon wrestling with what it all means. He barely even mentions his resurrection again until his brief talk with Melisandre before the Battle of The Bastards, and even then, it was more about what kind of god would bring him back only to kill him again than it was about why he was brought back in the first place.

I'm sure some people have stopped reading this and already jumped into the comments and written about how I shouldn't consider interviews with the actors or the showrunners to be part of the season's narrative, but even if you take away what Benioff, Weiss, and Harington said, one would still assume being brought back from the dead would change a character in a pretty major way. Even in a fantasy show like Game of Thrones, that's not something that happens every day, and plus, we saw how being brought back wore down Beric when he was resurrected time and again by Thoros of Myr.

I figured maybe they'd bring him back for some huge event, and the Battle of The Bastards certainly fit that description, but Jon even managed to screw that up, breaking his own rules and charging in to try to save Rickon and falling right into Ramsay's trap. He said himself in the finale that the only reason he survived that situation was because Sansa called in the Knights of the Vale, a decision he had nothing to do with. I could be convinced that there may not have been a battle at all without Jon being resurrected, but I feel like Sansa may have had enough clout in the North to eventually rally some troops and make it happen, even if she eventually may have had to use Littlefinger's men as her primary attacking force from the start instead of using them as a sneaky cavalry.

Sure, bringing Jon back will almost certainly have some huge implications down the road. With his parentage finally revealed and his new role as the King in the North, there's clearly more in store for Jon as this story progresses, but as for the way season six specifically approached and executed his resurrection and his (and other characters') reaction(s) to it, I hate to say that for the most part, they blew it. I didn't feel like the character was any different after he died than he was before Alliser Thorne, Ollie, and the rest of his scheming brothers plunged their knives into him.

James Cameron Says THE FORCE AWAKENS Lacked George Lucas’ “Innovative Visual Imagination”

During a recent interview, Avatar director James Cameron was asked what he thought of J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and it doesn't seem like he really cared for it. He doesn't come right out and say he didn't like the movie, but the way he talks around sharing his real feelings, you can tell he didn't like it.

"George Lucas is a friend of mine and he and I were having a good conversation the other day about it. I don’t want to say too much about the film cause I also have a lot of respect for J.J. Abrams, and I want to see where they’re taking it next, to see what they’re doing with it."

He then dove into more of an explanation praising Lucas' Star Wars films and saying those had more innovative visual imagination than The Force Awakens.  

"I have to say that I felt that George’s group of six films had more innovative visual imagination, and this film was more of a retrenchment to things you had seen before, and characters you had seen before, and it took a few baby steps forward with new characters."

As much as I loved The Force Awakens, I do see Cameron's point. At the same time, Abrams crafted a solid story with solid new characters to ease fans into these next few chapters in the saga. I have a feeling these next two episodes are going to take things in a very unexpected direction. Cameron concluded by saying:

"For me the jury’s still out. I want to see where they go with it.”

You can watch the interview below from JarJar Abrams. What do you think about Cameron's thoughts on The Force Awakens?

Trailer for the Animated Film TROLLS with Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake

DreamWorks Animation has released the first trailer for their upcoming feature film Trolls, which is based on a toy line that I remember being very popular in the 1980s. The Trolls toy line was something I was never into but if you were, maybe you'll you'll like what this trailer has to offer. I have no interest in watching this movie. My kids, on the other hand, can't wait. 

The film stars Anna Kendrick as the optimistic leader of the Trolls, Poppy, and Justin Timberlake plays Branch, who is the complete opposite of Poppy. They are joined by several other actors that include Gwen Stefani, James Corden, Russell Brand, Icona Pop, Ron Funches, and Kunal Nayaar. Together, the Trolls must embark on an adventure that takes them far beyond the only world they've ever known. 

The film was directed by Mike Mitchell and Walt Dohrn, who both worked on Shrek Forever After. It will be released on November 4th, 2016.

ACCIDENTS, BLUNDERS AND CALAMITIES Is a Fantastically Twisted Comedy Short about Dangerous Humans

"Accidents, Blunders and Calamities" is an entertaining short film that tells a dark comedic tale of how humans are the most dangerous animal. The story features a father possum who is reading his kids a story about the dangers of humans, and each part is dementedly told using the alphabet.

Inspired by the Edward Gorey classic, this black-comedy for kids and parents alike is a hilarious and brutal alphabet of death and mayhem exacted upon animals by ignorant humans. 30 CGI animals were meticulously crafted and killed by a team of 44 students at Media Design School.

The movie is a mix of CGI and live-action and so enjoyably dark and twisted. 

Steven Spielberg Says CGI Effects Would Have Ruined JAWS

While talking to Steven Spielberg at the press event for The BFG the subject of CGI effects came up. A lot of CGI animation was used in the creation of The BFG, and I thought it was handled well and was really quite beautiful. The film felt like a work of art because of it.

At one point he said that five years ago he wouldn’t have been able to make The BFG in this way because the technology just wasn’t there. At this point, the classic film Jaws was brought up in the conversation, and the director was asked if he ever thought of what it would have been like had today's technology existed back when he made Jaws. He replied:

“Well, I think if I had the computer, and if I had digital artists the way we have them today, in 1975, ’74 - I probably would have ruined the movie, because you would have seen nine times the amount of shark. And I think what makes the movie is the dearth of shark.”

It’s true! One of the greatest things about Jaws that is one of the film’s strengths is that you don’t see the shark that much. You know it’s there, lurking around, you just don’t know when it’s really going to strike until that awesomely eerie musical score starts to play. 

Keeping the visuals of the threat at a minimum in a film like Spielberg did with Jaws is a genius and effective storytelling tactic that builds the intensity, and it’s something other filmmakers have replicated over and over and over again over the years. I’d like to think that even if Spielberg had the technology, he still would have made the film the same way. He obviously thinks he wouldn't have, but I guess we’ll never truly know. 

Regardless of that, we are left with a movie masterpiece that will continue to entertain movie lovers for years to come.

Daniel Craig in Talks to Join Halle Berry’s L.A. Riots Film KINGS

James Bond star Daniel Craig is in talks to join a new indie film called Kings. The film is set during the 1992 Los Angeles riots, and if cast he will star alongside Halle Berry.

According to Variety, Craig would portray “a loner who lives in South Central Los Angeles and falls in love with Berry’s character. When the riots erupt, he will help Berry in protecting her children from the violence.”

The L.A. Riots were an intense time. It exploded after a jury acquitted police officers' use of excessive force during the arrest of Rodney King after a high-speed chase. I grew up in a suburb of L.A., and I remember seeing the fires and smoke rising from the city. 53 people were killed during those riots, and there was more than $1 billion of property damage. I’m surprised a major motion picture has been made about them yet.

The film is being directed by Deniz Gamze Erguven (Mustang), and it seems like solid project for Craig to be a part of. The actor was last seen in Spectre, and it doesn't look like he’ll be returning to Bond

Kings would be the third film I’ve heard about being made with the L.A. Riots as its story backdrop. One of the other films is currently being developed by Ice Cube. It will tell the story of an ex-criminal “who must save his son when a group of thugs raid his place of work in the hopes to steal an expensive amount of platinum.”

Then back in 2012, Justin Lin was developing one called L.A. Riots with Ron Howard and Brian Grazer producing. I’m not sure where that project currently stands, but Lin just directed Star Trek Beyond and is looking at several other projects, so I imagine this isn’t on his priority list anymore. 

Watch Some Behind-the-Scenes SUICIDE SQUAD Footage of Jared Leto as The Joker

A new video for Suicide Squad has surfaced giving us a behind-the-scenes footage of Jared Leto as The Joker. The actor provides some commentary on the villain he plays:

“The Joker is one of those rare opportunities because you get to reinterpret, bring back to life some character provides some counter point to the good of the world.”

We’ve heard a lot about Leto’s portrayal of Joker in the film and that it’s going to be something unique and crazy. The guy stayed in character through the whole shoot, and these behind-the-scenes clips give you a little glimpse of Leto in character when he was in-between shots. As you’ll see, the guy just had the crazy in his eyes. 

We’ve gotten a little taste of what the Joker will be like in Suicide Squad, but I have a feeling that what we’ve seen barely scratches the surface of this new version of the character. 

Suicide Squad hits theaters August 5th, 2016.

Lots of New Footage Featured in STAR TREK BEYOND TV Spots

I think Justin Lin’s Star Trek Beyond is going to give us one of the most unique stories in the new franchise of Star Trek films that J.J. Abrams launched. Unlike Abrams, Lin is a die-hard fan of the franchise, and he wants to give fans something awesome and unique. The footage that I’ve seen so far has been promising, and today we have three new TV spots for the film that showcase even more new footage. 

This chapter in the Star Trek saga continues to follow the galactic voyage of the U.S.S. Enterprise and its intrepid crew as they are deep into their mission of exploring new worlds and new civilizations. This movie follows the crew as they explore “the furthest reaches of uncharted space, where they encounter a mysterious new enemy who puts them and everything the Federation stands for to the test."

Star Trek Beyond hits theaters this summer on July 22nd.

J.K. Simmons Tells the Story Behind Those Insane Workout Photos

A couple of weeks ago some photos surfaced of J.K. Simmons working out and looking ripped as hell. We all thought that he training for his role of Commissioner Gordon in Zack Snyder’s Justice League. During an interview with Business Insider, the actor revealed that it was all just a coincidence and that he’s always striving to be in shape, so that’s just J.K. Simmons… everyday! He explains:

"This is all coincidental. After the second and final time that I got hugely fat in my life and when I lost that weight six or seven years ago, I pretty much decided that I was going to stay in decent shape for the rest of my life.
"I was not in good shape at all. I was overweight and soft and here I am playing the head of the Aryan Brotherhood in this maximum-security prison in the first-ever HBO original drama and I was watching the first season when it came out and I just thought, 'Wow, I don't believe this guy at all. I have to get my ass to the gym and be a believable hard-ass.’”

So the fact that he’s in ass-kicking shape is just his lifestyle. Good for him! And in case you were wondering, the HBO series he’s talking about is Oz. He then joked:

"Those were shot at the end of April. I'm huge now!"

Simmons went on to briefly reassure fans that his version of Jim Gordon isn’t going to mess with the character that we all know:

"I'm not going to mess with something that iconic.”

I never thought he would. When Simmons was initially cast in the role of Gordon I couldn’t have been happier. The guy is perfect for the part, and I believe he has the ability to give us one of the best and most badass versions of the character ever put on screen. I can’t wait to see him in Justice League