Thursday, July 28, 2016

TLR Chats With Actor Stephen Manley

Actor Stephen Manley is a showbiz veteran whose career in both film and television spans over 40 years.

He may be best known as one of several Young Spock's in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock but as you will soon discover his work crosses many genres.

As a child and teen Manley appeared on classic shows such as All in the Family Emergency! The Love Boat Little House on the Prairie and The Streets of San Francisco.

As an adult he stayed quite busy over the years--but 2016/17 may his most productive period yet. The interview touches upon a lot of it.  When the chat began I promised him that I would try not to geek out with too many questions about Star Trek. I will let you guys judge whether I succeeded in doing that or not....but we started where all good stories begin...

You've been acting since you were very young. How did you get started?

My grandfather Stephen E. Soldi, had started in the silent era. His first job was as a Roman Soldier in D.W. Griffith”s film “ Intolerance:”. He worked as a character actor and stunt double for decades until his retirement in 1966. He worked on everything from “ Frankenstein” to “Singin' in the Rain”. After his wife passed he lived with my parents and he was my biggest role model, He taught me to read by giving me film scripts. when i was 5, I obtained a SAG\ Card thru him and eventually began to audition thru a wonderful agent named Dorothy Day Otis who represented young people.

You have appeared on number of TV shows from the 70's  Can you talk about that period?

The 1970’s was a wonderful period of time to be working in film and television. All of those fantastic shows which are now pop culture classic’s. I primarily worked at Universal Studios, which was an institution: Emergency, Rockford Files, Six Million Dollar Man, Earthquake, I myself worked on The Hindenburg. A great place to be. Warners had Kung Fu, which I also did some episodes, and 20th Century Fox where The Love Boat set sail from. I Cherish the period.

How were you treated by the adults you worked with?

When I was very small, many “old-timers” who knew my grandfather kept a good eye on me and helped keep my standards professional. It could be magical, creative and fun, but it was work, the jobs in every aspect of production are highly sought after , and I learned to respect that very early. I was treated on a level playing field among the adult actors and learned much from many of them which i still carry to this day.

You were on "Little House" which already had a few established young folks on set what was that like?

The Labyorteaux Brothers, Matt and Patrick, whom are still are friends to this day, were a part of that show for years. However it was not until the final season that I was fortunate enough to land a good guest star role as Italian acrobat Marco Gambini. Michael Landon was a very kind and sincere man and i enjoyed the work there very much..even the circus leotard was not too bad. I also got to work with veteran character actor Jack Krutchen who had been in so many wonderful films and shows.

How did you land the role as young Spock (age 17) on Star Trek III: The Search for Spock?

Mr. Nimoy had seen my work in an episode of “ The Secrets of Midland Heights”, a series created by my dear friend David Jacobs. In one episode my character was dealing with the death of his mother by going to a empathetic and warm gypsy fortune teller who was played by the legendary and passionate Zohra Lampert. Ms. Lampert and I played some beautiful scenes and Mr. Nimoy wanted me to bring some of that feeling to what would be “ Pon Farr Spock” with Lt. Saavik.

We lost Leonard Nimoy last year--What was he like to work with?

A wonderful and giving man. A fantastic and gifted actor himself, with that incredible voice. He never lost his temper or patience, treated everyone kindly and as a director ran a very smooth and stress free set. He wanted everyone to have a great creative environment.

Talk about filming the pivotal Pon farr scene?

Mr. Nimoy explained to Robin Curtis and myself that the Pon Farr ritual had only been hinted at in the Star Trek Universe and that now was the time to at least show the lead in to it. Robin, like Ms. Lampert, is a very warm and compassionate woman and worked hard to keep her emotions’ Vulcan-like”. The three of us created the scene under Leonards’ guidance, Robin and I reacting off each others touch, which is very strong way to work. There were more elements that we did that were not shown, for instance there is a pic of Robin touching my face as Leonard observes us. I humor my fans and tell them that it was from the Italian Bertolucci version..! However, I will always be eternally grateful to Mr Nimoy as he insisted the Pon Farr scene be kept in the film when some executives not familiar with the worlds of Star Trek wanted it cut out.

Reflect on Star Trek at 50

What can I say, Star Trek will forever be with us. It stands the test of time and perseveres. Many of the fans I meet are in their teens or early 20’s now, and have become avid fans in their youth. That says to me how strong Star Trek will always be.

Talk about your interaction with the Trek fans

Mr. Nimoy had strongly advised me about the responsibilities of Star Trek actors. He told me that Star Trek would be with me the rest of my life and how he himself took that responsibility very seriously. I assured him I would do the same as I was representing his character at a different stage of life. As a result, I always give to the fans as much as I possibly can, answering their questions and even Pon Farr-ing in pictures with my wonderful fan ladies who have shown such wonderful support. They are all great people and I am always taken with the fact that they remember me.

What is Star Trek: Progeny?

Star Trek Progeny was a high end fan based web series that was slated to begin production, however production is postponed until further notice. I have however taken part in a Star Trek Excelsior Internet Radio Program which features the voices of many Star Trek actors and actresses, Ms. Curtis and Ms. Nichols included. Enthusiasm and followings for these projects is always high and the people wonderful.

What's your take on the reboot of Trek and the latest movies?

The movies were great. A throwback to the original series which I always encourage. And now, Star Trek Discovery. Very pleased to see another series to continue the universe.

You have been really busy this year with no less than 6 projects--all at various stages in the pipeline. Of course some will bow in 2017. Can you talk about them for me? I am particularly jazzed by Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter and  Curse of the Phantom Shadow.

Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter is a Sci Fi / Action film by Director Neil Johnson and starring actress Tracey Birdsall. Also appearing are Daz Crawford from “Agents of Shield” and William Kirtcher from “The Hobbit”. Cannot give away the plot or story, but action fans and Sci Fi fans should be pleased. Neil creates incredible worlds and this is his biggest film yet, as Tracey says: “ This one is EPIC.” Curse of the Phantom Shadow is a stylised 1940’s era serial type project by filmmaker Mark Ross. In place of spaceships and robots, we have B-25 Bombers, Burma, Whiskey, Secret Agents and Varga Girls. How’s that one..!!

Sounds pretty cool. I like horror flicks Ghosthunters was released recently--talk about filming that movie and The challenges of playing Henry.

All of the characters in Ghosthunters had very high emotional stakes. I d prepared my auditions for Pearry by rehearsing with my grandpa who is now in a mausoleum…! I often visit him, but now we had a great role to prepare for, so I brought my fold up chair, a large coffee, and worked the scenes in his presence for hours. Hows that for method,,! The film was written and directed by Pearry Teo whose goal was to craft a serious gothic horror film for The Asylum which is known mostly for it’s tongue in cheek “mockbusters”. What resulted from everyone's hard work was a highly dramatic film with elements of the older Hammer films of the 1960’s but shot with Pearry’s unique style that included some SteamPunk flourishes. Francesca Santoro, David O’Donnell, Liz Fenning, Web Crystal, Phyllis Spielman and myself found ourselves in this fantastic historic home rehearsing and acting out what was really a Gothic horror play. It was an incredible experience for all of us and a wonderful opportunity to help Pearry deliver something new for this company, who were shocked at the dailies they were seeing. I was so wrought after playing Henry that it took a couple of weeks to heal. So proud of everyone I worked with. There were no best or worst days. The whole production was first class.

 What do you like to do when you are not working?

I cannot remember, thank goodness I have been blessed with quite a lot of work recently so am focused on that. I have cherished playing in the pool lately with my little girl who is now 9. After some fear of the water, she is now swimming “ like Pac-Man” under and above the water. I am so proud of her.

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to be an actor?

As with any Art, find the best instructors that you can and be willing to work very hard on both yourself and the work. Being an actor, one is exposed, there is no canvas to protect you. You have to be willing and ready to open yourself up for your art. Not always easy to do for any actor or actress including the ones you admire. You will be training for the rest of your life.

Your chance to say anything else...

Thank you so much Tom. I can talk forever on these things so I better let you rest..!

I am so very grateful to Stephen. He is one of the nicest industry folk that I have met in my travels. He was so understanding about my hand injury--the interview was a bit unorthodox to say the least. He also gave me as much time as I needed so that I could do this interview for you guys. I hope at some point down the road that we will be able to chat again. In the meantime be sure to "Like" his  Facebook Page and follow him on  Twitter. Thanks again Stephen! And to you guys my loyal readers--as Spock might say: "Peace And Long Life"...

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Review of Batman: The Killing Joke -- Two Masked Men At Their Darkest

I should preface this review by first saying that while I have a deep affection for Batman, I am by no means a Dark Knight connoisseur.

I probably know more about Batman than the average person, but I hesitate to call myself a "fan" because that title is, at least in my mind, reserved for people who really know the comics inside out (and it is fair to say that this movie is in many ways aimed at such hardcore fans.)

I don't read a lot of comics, and I've only read a handful of Batman ones. Rather, my relationship to the Caped Crusader stems mainly from the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight Trilogy, as well as perhaps the pinnacle of superhero-comics-as-games, Rocksteady's Arkham Trilogy.

Most importantly, however, it is my childhood fondness for Paul Dini's Batman: The Animated Series that shapes who Batman is to me (and a whole generation of millennials, for that matter.)

As such, the voices of Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy are the Joker and Batman, respectively. Any time a producer is able to wrangle these two voice actors back together for any Batman project, it lends a heavy weight of credibility for me and many like me.

(As a side note, Kevin Conroy as cranky old Bruce Wayne in Batman Beyond is probably the best I've ever heard him in his decades-spanning role.)

The Killing Joke film being an adaptation of an era-defining classic comic, it hardly needed any more "credibility" to be taken seriously, but the fact that these two actors were onboard was probably the biggest reason I went to see it.

(I should point out that, lest anyone be misled, this movie is rated-R for a reason. We have long left the innocent territory of the Animated Series. This movie is violent, gory, and in some places quite disturbing. No explicit sexual content is shown, but heavily implied, including a sexual assault.)

As prefaced earlier, I am not deep into Batman comic lore, and had not actually read The Killing Joke prior to seeing the film. I caught wind of a few details beforehand, but by and large the story was new to me. So while I have been told that the majority of the film follows the comic almost shot-for-shot, I cannot speak to this personally.

What I can say is overall the relationship between Batman and the Joker is explored more deeply in this film than any I've seen. In TKJ, Joker is at his darkest and most sadistic, and Batman is forced to confront the fact that the only real way their dysfunctional dance will end is if one of them is killed.

Whether Batman is capable of doing it, and whether or not he can avoid tumbling into an abyss after breaking his character-defining rule of not killing, is the ultimate question posed (but maybe not answered?) by the film.

[Warning: Spoilers Ahead]

The flashbacks to Joker's past are beautifully done and do very well to humanize an otherwise utterly inhuman character. We even see a brief moment of this humanity peek through when Batman offers to help the Joker return to sanity, and Joker pauses to reflect, only to make it clear he has given up hope on himself.

While I certainly appreciated this extra dimension to Joker, I was not entirely convinced by his backstory of a relatively normal person who, after a series of terrible events, is pushed straight into pure insanity. Joker's level of depravity makes such a leap too difficult to buy, and even though I like seeing into his past, made me almost wish they had left it unknown.

One of the most controversial bits of this film is the added content in the first 20 or so minutes detailing the relationship between Barbara Gordon AKA Batgirl (voiced by Tara Strong) and Batman.

Romantic undertones have always been implied between these two, but in this film, that relationship is-- shall we say-- fully "fleshed out".

One one hand, this is a very odd story choice. Batman has always traditionally fulfilled a mentor or fatherly role for Barbara, whose romantic affections towards him are little more than a juvenile crush, and eventually redirected to the more appropriately-aged Robin.

Their love scene in particular was very poorly done and rather sinister in nature, which only brought the feeling of creepiness to the forefront.

Naturally, a lot of people are very upset about this rather abrupt change in the relationship. The romantic interlude tailed by an immediate falling out, tailed by her being brutally attacked by Joker and then ending with her working with Batman once more as Oracle with no apparent emotional reservation is... tough to swallow.

At the same time I do understand it-- her near-death at the hands of Joker is suddenly given much more emotional impact and heightens Batman's sense of revenge. Unfortunately, I don't feel that at-the-edge-of-madness rage that Batman feels after the incident are very well communicated in the dialogue, and the entire point of adding that relationship feels wasted.

But what about everything else?

This movie is beautifully animated, written, and executed. It has some very memorable shots. Joker's eyes twinkling in the lights of his new abandoned theme-park-turned-hellscape is flawless. The pacing is great. 

I particularly appreciated the level of attention given to the sound design. If you were to close your eyes in the theater, you could easily forget it was animated-- no low-budget SFX or music score taint this film. Explosions feel huge, the Batmobile sounds as souped-up as ever and the dialogue is nice and crisp.

If you like Batman at all, and can appreciate good animation, you would be well-served to experience this piece of classic Dark Knight storytelling.

The film is available on Digital HD this week and comes out on Blu-ray and for rental in early August.

TLR Gets Another Writer!

I am sooooo excited to announce that my cousin Vincent Lobascio will be posting on TLR! I told him that he can post as little or as much as he likes There's no set schedule or topic.

I will continue posting as much I can--eg The Stephen Manley Chat--Still I cannot thank Vincent enough ...This will allow me to rest my hand and wrist--Doc says I stll need to do less if I want the injury to my right hand to ever properly heal.

Vincent's first post?

A review of the much talked about animated film Batman: The Killing Joke! I think you will find his take entertaining and interesting.....

Show him support and let us know what you think of his posts.

Thanks for your continued loyalty to TLR.

All the best T

Sunday, July 17, 2016

TLR's Next Interview....

Wanted to share this news with you guys!

Gotta jet! All the best


Friday, July 15, 2016

Ross Lynch Is A Class Cut-Up

Heat Vision reports that "Teen Beach Movie" star Ross Lynch will play infamous serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer in the indie drama "My Friend Dahmer".

Based on cartoonist Derf Backderf's graphic novel the project sees Lynch play Dahmer during his high school years in the 1970's. The young man struggles with a difficult family life and the urge and thoughts of wanting to kill.

Dahmer is one of the most infamous serial killers om record=he raped and murdered seventeen men and boys in the late 1970s through the early 1990s by way of dismemberment and cannibalism. He was killed in prison in 1994.

Marc Meyers ("Harvest") will direct the film from a script that he wrote that made the 2014 Black

Adam Goldworm is producing the pic. Production begins in Ohio in August.

Wow! You can't get further away from the Disney nice than playing a future serial killer.  Lynch can pass for Dahmer. If he has the acting chops to explore a dark side--this could put him on the map with non Tweens--Will be watching to see where this one ends up.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

TLR's Captain America Contest Answers And More!

Now that TLR's Captain America: Civil War Blu-ray Contest has ended--It's time to reveal the answers and the winners...yes, you read that right, winners--as in more than one! There were in fact 3 winners! Each of whom guessed one of the missing answers:

 Tom's top 5 movie scores. The first two were easy and thus I told you what they were.

1. Superman The Movie
2. Star Trek: The Motion Picture
3. Halloween 1978
4. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
5. Psycho

Never in a million years did I expect a 3 way tie!!! Since I did not state within the rules what would happen in the event of a tie--my error means that ALL THREE OF THE WINNERS WILL GET A COPY OF "Civil War"!! Congrats to the winners! And thanks to everyone that played along! It was fun!

Winners Don't forget to send me an address and your name so that I can get it to you by its street date of 9/13/16. Send the info via email with words Cap 3 Contest Address in the Subject line or via Direct Message by way of the Twitter handle @TheLastReel. As soon as I have everyone's snail mail info--I will pre-order the disc!

 Maybe the next contest will finish the bottom 5...One things fer sure I will include tie!
All the best!

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

TLR's Captain America: Civil War Blu-ray Contest Is OVER

Hey folks:

I hope this post finds everyone well.

Before I get into my plans for TLR going forward--Here are those contest details I promised you on social media last week where you could win a copy of Marvel's Captain America: Civil War on Blu-ray! The popular superhero mash-up hits the streets on September 13th 2016. The winner will have it delivered on that very day....In case you missed it--here's my review of the film...

One of the most important aspects to a film is its music soundtrack--the contest will underscore  (Sorry I couldn't resist!) that--as well as test how well you pay attention to details on TLR....

All you have to do is complete the following list:

Tom's top 5 movie scores. The first two are easy and therefore I will tell you what those are.

1. Superman The Movie
2. Star Trek: The Motion Picture


The bottom 3 are really not that hard to figure out. The answers are here if you can find them. Still too hard?  OK you don't have to put them in the right order...BUT if you do, there's a bonus 25.00 Amazon gift card in for you as well. If nobody gets all three answers then its whomever got closest with one or two. The guessing period runs for ONE WEEK--starting today 7-5-16 until 7-12-16 at 12:00 PM EDT The answers can be submitted via email with words Cap 3 Contest in the Subject line or via Direct Message  by way of the Twitter handle @TheLastReel


 The winner will be announced on 7-13-16 (WED) Once that's done he or she will provide a mailing address. Further info will be given to said winner....

Questions? Send them to the email address above DM on TWITTER or at The Last Reel Cinema Group on Facebook

I will back soon with that blog news...Stay close.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Remembering My Dad And Movies

Hey folks:

It's still kinda hard to believe that my Dad passed away some six months ago. And that today is my first Father's Day without him...It's been hard but thankfully I have an excellent support system that is helping me muddle though.

Just as did with my Mom I want to devote some space to share my movie memories that focus on him....

Dad HATED going to the movies. He thought everything was overpriced (He's not wrong there!) and did not like sitting in a darkened theater for very long. The last film he saw at the cineplex was the Oscar-winning epic Titanic for heaven's sake--believe me with a 3 hour plus running time it was a tough slog for him. When I asked him later that day what he thought of James Cameron's hit film; His reply? "It was OK." He could not understand what all the fuss was about.

My parents shared many favorite films: The film saga of Rocky Balboa; Mel Brooks' comedies like Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, and High Anxiety; the first two Godfather films--that said he also had his own list as well. His favorite actress was Sophia Loren. She has talent to be sure. But I also think her Italian accent had a lot to do with the reason she was tops on his list. Yeah let's go with that. Among actors  Sean Connery and his exploits as James Bond were tops. He may not have enjoyed watching films with a long running time in the theater--in the comfort of his home--length did not matter 1970's biopic Patton starring the great George C. Scott in the title role (A must watch if you have never seen it), the star-studded biblical story The Ten Commandments (1956) and it's cousin--the original Ben-Hur (1959) were favorites. I wonder how he would feel about the upcoming remake of the latter?

I remember being in another part of my childhood home while my folks were watching television in the family room. I was working on a paper for one of my film classes--trying to beat back a case of writer's block for my conclusion. I was startled out of deep concentration by the sound of uncontrolled and very intense laughter. The sound originated from dad. I first thought he was in some sort of dis-stress...I rushed out to see what was going on...To my surprise by the time I got there dad was literally falling off our love seat--laughing so hard I thought he was gonna wet his pants. As it turns out he and mom were watching the comedy  “What About Bob?” In the film a successful psychotherapist/author () loses his mind after one of his most dependent patients, () a manipulative, obsessively compulsive narcissist, tracks him down during his family vacation.

Here's one of the bits Dad loved:

When I told Dad that I was quitting my job to make a short film---he was not a happy guy and not very supportive of the decision at all. It was a pretty heated exchange--I said things, he said things, pretty bad...I realized soon after that, just like Mom years earlier, he was just looking out for my best interest. I forged ahead with my writer/cinematographer Matt. While we were filming on location, he surprised me pulling up in his car, saying he wanted to see what we were up to. I don't think he had a clue what was happening. By the end of his set visit he helped us get some tricky shots on film--and then offered to buy everyone lunch. Once "Crossroads" was completed and he watched it he was all smiles. He did have one criticism--"I could have done without all of those curse words". Mind you growing up I heard Dad curse up a storm almost every day without much concern for my virgin ears...I treasure the footage that he helped us get and his set visit meant a lot.

Gosh I miss you dad--I wish you and mom were here...Thanks for all of your love and support. Some days are really rough. Love your son...

This post is also for my brother Nick--who is also a father to three girls--I love you...

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Zac Efron Going Under Big Top For "Showman"

Variety reports that Zac Efron is in talks to join the long gestating musical biopic The Grenatest Showman on Earth.

In development for nearly a decade, the film will tell the story of American showman P. T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman) who had a knack for hoaxing a gullible public even as he created the three-ring circus that made him a household name. The pic also traces his infatuation with singer Jenny Lind known as the Swedish Nightingale. The Lind role was being eyed for Anne Hathaway way back when...Now it's uncast.

Efron's role is not yet known.

Michael Gracey will direct the project.

Jenny Bicks wrote an early script draft with British pop singer-songwriter Mika to write the music and lyrics for the film. Filmmaker Bill Condon was then hired to write a new draft in 2013.

"Dreamgirls" producer, Laurence Mark, will oversee production with Jackman and John Palermo set to produce.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Neighbors 2 Review: "Let's Shut This S@&t Down!"

 It's hard to believe that it has been 2 years since Universal Pictures released the R rated comedy Neighbors. Since I liked the original flick quite a bit--my expectations for "Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising" going in-were perhaps a bit higher than they would have otherwise been. How does the sequel measure up?

As the film opens we find out that Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly Radner (Rose Byrne) are expecting a second child. With the family about to grow--the couple decide that they are ready to make the final move into adulthood: the suburbs. But just as they thought they’d reclaimed the neighborhood and it was safe to sell, they learn that the new occupants next door are a sorority even more out of control than Teddy (Zac Efron) and his brothers ever were.

Tired of their school’s sexist, restrictive Greek system, the unorthodox ladies of Kappa Nu have decided to start a house where they can do whatever they want. When Shelby (Chloe Moretz) and her sisters, Beth (Kiersey Clemons) and Nora (Beanie Feldstein), find the perfect place just off campus, they won’t let the fact that it’s located on a quiet street stand in their way of parties as epic as the guys throw.

After Teddy's best friend Pete (Dave Franco) gets engaged--he finds himself homeless-striking a deal with the Nu girls for a place to live in exchange for his expertise on how to work the system. The Radner's are desperate to ensure that their home sells without any problem. Easier said than done. Soon though Teddy is given the boot by the gals and he switches sides as a secret weapon for Mac and Kelly...

Once again the original film's director as well as writers Brendan O'Brien and Andrew Cohen return to steer the festivities.  Rogen, his pal Evan Goldberg and Stoller helped out with the script this time. As before, (mostly) everything works. The film is light on it's feet and very raunchy fun.

Efron's comedic muscles continue to flex with a turn in the adult laugh-fest Dirty Grandpa as well as the upcoming Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates and next year's Baywatch movie. It remains to be seen whether or not those not yet released movies portend that this is a good career trend for him. So far so good. He has shed his teen beginnings and High School Musical for sure.

 The filmmakers know what worked before and didn't really change the recipe--the entire cast works well with each other. Happily the Radner's best friends Jimmy (Ike Barinholtz) and Paula (Carla Gallo) are given a bit more to do here. The newbies Moretz Clemons and Feldstein make fine additions. As leader Shellby--Moretz is just great! Characters we like and care about is the film's secret weapon amid all of the f-bombs and airbag gags.

Neighbors 2 is that rare comedy sequel that works out very well--that said--I hope the team thinks long and hard before making a third one...

Friday, June 03, 2016

Bill Skarsgård Tipped For "It" Big Bad

One of the series that I am currently working my way through is the now completed Netflix original Hemlock Grove. I am about halfway through the 2nd season and I am really digging it.

Well now Heat Vision reports that one of its stars Bill Skarsgård is talks to join the newest two-part film adaptation of author Stephen King's novel It.

The story follows a group of teen outcasts (called 'The Losers Club') in 1958 who encounter 'It', a shapeshifting creature that feeds on children and whose favorite form a sadistic clown called Pennywise.  And then In 1985 the creature resurfaces. The kids, who're now adults, must take on the demon of their childhood again - this time in a different form.

Skarsgård (who played Roman Godfrey on Grove) is said to be the frontrunner to play Pennywise--and based on his work for the Net show--I think he'd be a great choice. Will Poulter (The Revenant) was previously eyed for the role when "Sin Nombre" director Cary Fukunaga was set to call action on the project. Poulter had to step out due to scheduling conflicts. “Band of Brothers” star Kirk Acevedo was in the running as well.

 Jaeden Lieberher (St. Vincent), Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things), Jack Dylan Grazer (Tales of Halloween), Wyatt Oleff (Guardians of the Galaxy), Chosen Jacobs (Cops and Robbers) and Jeremy Ray Taylor (Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip) are said to be in talks to play the young incarnations of the group of friends.

Andy Muschietti, who directed 2013’s “Mama”, will sit in the big chair.

 The new version will take place in contemporary times and will be tipped as a rated R affair

Dan Lin, Roy Lee, David Katzenberg, and Seth Grahame-Smith are producing.

The book was previously adapted as a solid 1990 2 part TV mini-series with John Ritter, Harry Anderson, and Tim Curry ('The Rocky Horror Picture Show') as Pennywise that was directed by Tommy Lee Wallace.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Director's Cut Goes Blu

Hey Guys!

I know it has been a while since I posted anything on TLR--I of my goals with the relaunch has been to do less stories that just regurgitate film news per se--That's what Twitter handle @TheLastReel is here for--and instead focus on stuff that allows for a bit more commentary from me...I hope the slight shift makes for a better blog.

Moving on.

Tuesday June 7th will see the Blu-ray debut of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Director's Cut! This version of the popular sequel has been around since about 1985 when the film made its network television bow. Director edited back in three minutes of material that adds some great character moments between Kirk (William Shatner) and McCoy (); Spock () and his protegee' Saavik (); And finally gives Scotty () a meat on the bone subplot-his expanded scene in Sickbay gets me every time...Among other bits of footage.

Meyer did a similar addition thing when his 1991 franchise return Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country hit home video. I hope the powers that be will release that cut on Blu as well.

In the Prime timeline Khan Noonien Singh is the genetically enhanced human--An American Sikh of the 1967 episode of "Star Trek" called Space Seed played both times by the great Ricardo Montalban...Despite making $467 million worldwide, "Star Trek Into Darkness" still divides the core fanbase...Thanks to the fact that Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch's baddie "John Harrison" in  J.J. Abrams’ sequel is really Khan in the rebooted timeline....Before STID opened I was totally against the notion of reimaging Kahn and stated my position loudly...Once I saw the film I was won over in large measure because of Cumby's magnetic portrayal ...All of that said though it's widely regarded that Montalban's version is the best Trek villain in its 50 year history. The debate will continue...

Here are specs on the TWOK-DC Blu-ray:

The Blu-ray  release will be presented in 1080p high definition with English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, French 2.0 Dolby Digital, Spanish Mono Dolby Digital and Portuguese Mono Dolby Digital with English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.
  • Director’s Edition in high definition
  • Theatrical Version in high definition
  • Commentary by director Nicholas Meyer (Director’s Edition & Theatrical Version)
  • Commentary by director Nicholas Meyer and Manny Coto (Theatrical Version)
  • Text Commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda (Director’s Edition)
  • Library Computer (Theatrical Version)
  • The Genesis Effect: Engineering The Wrath of Khan—NEW!
  • Production
o   Captain’s Log
o   Designing Khan
o   Original interviews with DeForest Kelley, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and Ricardo Montalban
o   Where No Man Has Gone Before: The Visual Effects ofStar Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
o   James Horner: Composing Genesis
  • The Star Trek Universe
o   Collecting Star Trek’s Movie Relics
o   A Novel Approach
o   Starfleet Academy: The Mystery Behind Ceti Alpha VI
  • Farewell
o   A Tribute to Ricardo Montalban
  • Storyboards
  • Theatrical Trailer
 Sure most of the extras port over from previous releases of the film. The tech specs are an upgrade though. For the record I am not a fan of the box art here...

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Travis Fimmel Lands "Inversion" Role

Deadline reports that "Warcraft" and "Vikings" star Travis Fimmel has joined the cast of the sci-fi film "Inversion".

The story follows a street-wise American con man, and a young Chinese physicist as they race against the clock to save the earth from a terrifying loss of gravity.

Paul Haggis, David Arata and Bragi Schut wrote the script from which Peter Segal will call the shots.

Michael Nozik, Philip Lee and Markus Barmettler will produce the movie.

Production kicks off in Dublin, Shanghai and Chicago on September 12th.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Dylan O'Brien Tapped As "American Assassin"

Deadline reports that NJ native Dylan O'Brien ("The Maze Runner," "Teen Wolf") is in negotiations to play the title character in "American Assassin".

Based on author Vince Flynn's eleventh Mitch Rapp novel that charts a Cold War veteran (Michael Keaton), who would be the most feared training officer in the CIA if more than a handful of people at the agency actually knew of his existence. His deputy director tasks him with training a black ops recruit (O'Brien) devastated by the loss of his fiancee to a terrorist attack. The pair is eventually dispatched on a joint mission with a lethal Turkish agent to stop a mysterious operative from kicking off a global war.

"Kill the Messenger" director Michael Cuesta will call action from an adapted screenplay written by Stephen Schiff.

Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Nick Wechsler are producing the film

Production begins this Summer.

CBS Films won the rights to the Rapp novels back in 2008 and originally planned to begin the series with an adaptation of "Consent to Kill" that Antoine Fuqua was due to direct Gerard Butler, Colin Farrell and Matthew Fox were all on the list to potentially play CIA agent Rapp.

O'Brien is still said to be recovering from injuries he sustained after an on set accident during production of the adaptation of the third and final book in the Maze Runner Series--The Death Cure.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Taylor-Johnson Stands Behind "The Wall"

Aaron Taylor-Johnson is in talks to star in Doug Liman's "The Wall" reports Variety.

The cat-and-mouse thriller follows an American sniper (Taylor-Johnson) and an Iraqi sharpshooter who has him pinned down behind a small chunk of concrete.

Taylor-Johnson reportedly won Liman over for the highly coveted role after several meetings.

Liman calls action using a script by Dwain Worrell, that made The Black List of 2014.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Captain America-Civil War Review: Civil Discourse

Whenever a comic book based film boasts a lot of super-powered characters I cringe because that usually means that the folks in charge intend to burden plot with spectacle rather than a good story. Thankfully the team responsible for Captain America: Civil War do a great job at balancing both. The 3rd phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe gets off to a rollicking start.

The film starts with a flashback in 1991--where we see Hydra operatives from Siberia send the brainwashed Winter Soldier aka Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) to intercept an automobile carrying a case of super-soldier serum and assassinate its driver and passenger. Cut to...

One year after Ultron's defeat in Sokovia at the hands of The Avengers, Captain America aka Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) stop former S.H.I.E.L.D; operative Brock Rumlow (Frank Grillo) from stealing a biological weapon from a lab in Lagos--when Scarlet Witch tries to displace an explosive blast into the sky, it destroys a nearby building, killing a number of Wakandan humanitarian workers.

At the team's headquarters, U.S. Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross (last seen in The Incredible Hulk and played by William Hurt) informs the Avengers that the United Nations is preparing to pass the Sokovia Accords, which will establish an international governing body to oversee and control the Avengers. The team is divided: Tony Stark aka Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.)  supports oversight because he feels responsible for Ultron's creation and Sokovia's devastation while Rogers has more faith in his own judgement than the government's.

Widow tries to convince Cap to support the Accords, but is unsuccessful. At the conference in Vienna where the Accords are to be ratified, a bomb kills King T'Chaka () of Wakanda. Security footage indicates the bomber is Barnes, who T'Chaka's son, T'Challa, aka Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) vows to kill. Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) tips off Rogers to Barnes' location and that the government does not plan to take him alive. Because Barnes is an old friend and war comrade, Rogers decides to capture Barnes himself, without authorization. Rogers and Wilson track Barnes to his hideout in Bucharest and attempt to protect him from the authorities and T'Challa, but Rogers, Wilson, Barnes, and T'Challa are apprehended...

The 3rd Cap film is an adaptation of the Captain America: Civil War storyline penned by series vets Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely from which Captain America: The Winter Soldier directors Anthony and Joe Russo called action. While there is certainly no shortage of action and spectacular sequences--it's still light on its feet-yes it slows down--but the pic never stops to give you enough time to check your watch.

The film tackles some of the same ethical and moral questions raised by Zack Snyder's Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice. The difference? "Civil War" is much more fun to watch. Despite the fact that this is indeed Marvel's darkest movie yet--there's still enough humor and warmth found within to prevent the film from being a total downer. During the sequel's pivotal 17 minute  battle between the opposing sides--things are serious-but there is also plenty of fun to be had....

Newly minted  Spider-Man () gets a fine introduction into the MCU--and while I still wish that former Spidey Andrew Garfield was wearing the suit--I look forward to seeing where this third big screen incarnation goes next in Spider-Man: Homecoming. The film's other big introduction is Black Panther. Boseman is just terrific I can't wait to see more of him as well.

Cap 3 biggest flaw is its true villain Zemo (Daniel Brühl). Once again we have a comic book movie bad guy who is woefully underwritten and thus poorly realized He doesn't really seem all that menacing. Behind the scenes he is the puppet master--but onscreen he's no menace. A shame because Brühl is talented.

"Civil War" has it all...Action Spectacle Drama Humor--A must see.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

What's The Last Reel Cinema Group?

Hey Guys.

I wanted to let you know that I created The Last Reel Cinema Group on Facebook

Here is the description:

"Need a film recommendation? Want to talk about your favorite films or a movie that you have recently watched? Want to promote your film? Need a cinema question answered? Get it all right here.

Have fun with it! All I ask is that you you keep the discussion Civil and the debate Friendly. Looking for more members--Spread the word Kids!"

I decided go this route rather than do a "proper" FB page for TLR--Hoping that it proves popular enough--Its fate lies with you....

Andrew Garfield Swims "Under the Silver Lake"

Heat Vision reports that former "Spider-Man" film series star Andrew Garfield is attached to star in "It Follows" writer/director David Robert Mitchell's noir crime thriller "Under the Silver Lake"

Plot details about the project are being kept under wraps other than that the film is set in contemporary Los Angeles setting.

Michael De Luca, Adele Romanski, Chris Bender and Jake Weiner are producing the pic.

Production kicks off at the end of summer.

I thought horror pic "It Follows" was meh after hearing raves--we shall see what happens here.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Very Special Post Remembering My Mom

My Mother And Movies

On this what would have been her 80th birthday I would like to spend some time talking about--My Mom--and the films she loved..

From a very early age, I remember spending many Saturday afternoons with mom, watching a show called Creature Double Feature, where a local host would introduce classic horror films like Frankenstein, Dracula, (both from 1931), House of Wax (1953) The Blob, (1958) I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957)-just to name a few.

Mom's favorite film star was James Cagney. Sitting down with her to watch White Heat was a both a treat and chore, because I really didn't understand the beauty of the black and white film yet. Into my adulthood I appreciate it as the masterpiece that it is. When the 4th of July rolled around, Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) became a family tradition. When Cagney died on March 30th 1986, I vividly recall her shedding a few tears upon hearing the sad news.

Mom liked films about the underdog overcoming adversity. The film saga of Rocky Balboa was her favorite of the genre.

Watching Ryan Coogler's excellent continuation Creed in the theater last Christmas--was very bittersweet. I thought about the time I saw the original film with my parents on the big screen. Memories flooded back. I think she would have loved it... and Sylvester Stallone were great together. They both deserved more attention from the Academy....Mom would have most likely agreed with me on that. If you have not seen it yet...It's a MUST WATCH...

Speaking of sagas...even though the first two Godfather films were not meant for kids my age, the first time they hit broadcast TV in the mid 70's, I was allowed to watch them. Of course I'm so glad my parents made the exception.

As mother and son we shared many other favorite films over the years. Comedies like Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, and High Anxiety, all from the mind of a master named Mel Brooks. We also got a kick out of Peter Sellers as Inspector Jacques Clouseau in the original Pink Panther movies, as well as Sellers' turn in the underrated Murder by Death (1976).

She warned me not to watch John Carpenter’s Halloween the first time it hit broadcast TV--It's not like the Creature Features she said... Sorry Mom--So glad I disobeyed you. Regular readers of the blog already know how special Carpenter's 1978 original is to me....And the Horror genre as a whole...the funny thing here is that The Godfather on network TV is waaaaay more violent and disturbing than Michael Myers.

When the news of Shirley Temple-Black's passing broke in February of 2014 ..I thought about my Mom...Oh how she loved watching Temple's films. At a young age I remember that she had them on nearly every Saturday when the local UHF station would run two of them back to back...At the tine I did not appreciate them. As an  adult--It's easy to see that Temple had a special kind of magic...that has never been duplicated. What I would not give for one more chance to sit with Mom to watch a Temple film.

Mom would also indulge me by sitting through multiple viewings of Superman and various "Star Trek" flicks...especially Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, without much of a fuss. Star Wars, on the other hand, was a tougher sell...

When my sister Karen suggested that I study film making in college--while I was still in High School--Mom tried to steer me into a more "stable profession" She would say "you should be a college professor--you could teach the kids of the future so much..." I did think about the teaching idea for a bit--but the pull of cinema was too strong...Here I sit...There is a bit of Irony considering the path that I find myself on now though...

Sadly, cancer took her from our family nearly 21 years ago...And now that Dad is also gone--It's been an even tougher slog

Thanks Mom for all of your love, support, and kindness for all of those years. I miss you every day. But I'm grateful that we shared lots of love, laughter, and of course many movie memories.

"Made it, Ma! Top of the world!'

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Baywatch Movie: Pics, Pecs And Bikini Babes

Here are the latest pics from the currently filming Baywatch movie.

The film puts a comedic spin on the worldwide success of the TV show that ran from 1989–2001
charting the exploits and rescues of a team of lifeguards--ala 21 Jump Street
Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach, Ilfenesh Hadera, Priyanka Chopra, Hannibal Buress, Izabel Goulart, Charlotte McKinney and  all star in the film.

 Series stars David Hassehoff and Pamela Anderson are both set to appear.

In late 2011 "Rescue Me" co-creator Peter Tolan and Jeremy Garelick had reportedly finished their script then--Reno 911 creators and stars Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant were attached to work on the pic at one point as well In June 2012, Justin Timberlake was linked to play a disgraced former Olympic swimmer trying out for the Baywatch crew. But that version fell apart

Justin Malen did a rewrite of the script that Seth Gordon directs.

Ivan Reitman, Beau Flynn and Tripp Vinson are producing the pic.

The Paramount release opens May 19th next year.

 The new shots see main cast members riffing on the signature slow motion beach run that was a staple of the series.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Max Greenfield Lives In "The Glass Castle"

Variety reports that "New Girl" star Max Greenfield is in talks to join the dramedy "The Glass Castle".

Based upon author Jeannette Walls' memoir the story centers on a successful young woman (Academy Award winner Brie Larson) raised by severely dysfunctional parents who struggles to understand her childhood when her parents, unexpectedly, move to New York to be near her.

Greenfield will play Jeannette’s loyal, but distant husband. He had a privileged upbringing, and is now living in Westchester and working in finance. He tries to understand and help Jeannette cope with her parents’ unexpected arrival.

Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts also star as said parents.

Destin Daniel Cretton (Short Term 12)
is directing from an adapted script he wrote with Andrew Lanham. Marti Noxon helped pen a draft as well

 Gil Netter is producing the film.

  Filming is set to begin in June in Montreal and it is set for release in 2017.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Is Alden Ehrenreich The Young Han Solo?

Deadline reports that Alden Ehrenreich ("Hail Caesar") is now the front-runner to star as a younger version of Harrison Ford's Han Solo in Phil Lord and Christopher Miller's upcoming Untitled Star Wars Anthology Film.

Ehrenreich was part of a list of contenders that included Taron Egerton ("Kingsman: The Secret Service," "Eddie the Eagle"), Jack O'Connell ("Starred Up"), Blake Jenner ("Everybody Wants Some!!") and Jack Reynor ("Transformers: Age of Extinction")--it seems that he is now apparently leading the pack after having an impressive test performance.

With production to begin later this year, a name is expected to be announced soon.

Peter Mayhew is playing the legendary Wookiee Chewbacca in the Solo tale.

Lawrence Kasdan ("The Empire Strikes Back," "Raiders of the Lost Ark" "The Force Awakens") and his son wrote the script.

 Kathleen Kennedy is producing and the film.

The film is scheduled for a May 25th 2018 release.

Channing Tatum Jumps Into "Kingsman: The Golden Circle"

Heat Vision reports that Channing Tatum has joined the comic based sequel "Kingsman: The Golden Circle".

The actor tweeted conformation of the news:

Created by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons--the comic book follows a seasoned Secret Service agent (Colin Firth) who takes a younger agent (Taron Egerton) under his wing as they investigate the murder of every resident of a small town and a mysterious secret involving Mount Everest.

Tatum's role is unclear as he was offered several with parts ranging from supporting roles to cameos, potentially including one in which he plays himself.

Egerton, Firth and Mark Strong are all returning for the latest chapter The newcomers to the franchise include Julianne Moore as the villain, Halle Berry as the head of Central Intelligence and Pedro Pascal as a lethal American agent. As reported earlier this week, Elton John is also in talks to join the pic.
Matthew Vaughn did a great job calling action on the 2014 action-spy film"Kingsman: The Secret Service" and returns to call action here too--using a script he script he co-wrote with Jane Goldman. The original film grossed a surprisingly healthy $415 million worldwide.

Production is slated to begin early May in London.