ENJOY THE SHOW
Based on the acclaimed comic book by Dave Gibbons and Mark Millar, 2015's Kingsman: The Secret Service was a crass, tongue-in-cheek tribute to the spy films of the '60s and '70s. Co-written and directed by English filmmaker Matthew Vaughn (of Layer Cake, Stardust, Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class), the stylish and subversive send-up became the filmmaker's most commercially successful film to date. Enter the highly anticipated sequel, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, a movie so overblown and preposterous that it feels less like On Her Majesty's Secret Service and more like the deranged lovechild of Austin Powers and Crank.
Inspired by Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury, H.P. Lovecraft, and EC Comics' Tales from the Crypt and The Vault of Horror, Stephen King carved a path for himself as the world's foremost writer of horror fiction throughout the '70s and '80s. By the time his novel It was published in 1986, many of King's best-selling books had already been adapted into successful films, including Carrie, The Shining, Cujo, The Dead Zone, and Christine. With the ambitious It, however, King's work shifted shape, much like the novel's titular evil entity haunting a small town in Maine. Instead of writing about the one thing that scared you, like a rabid dog or a demonic car, this time he was writing about everything that did - the very nature of fear itself.
The beloved sketch comedy group Good Neighbor was originally formed in 2007 by Kyle Mooney, Beck Bennett, Nick Rutherford, and Dave McCary. The comedians racked up millions of YouTube hits with their offbeat and uncomfortable sketch videos, including such notable standouts as "My Mom's a MILF", "Is My Roommate Gay?", "420 Disaster," and "Unbelievable Dinner," based on Steven Spielberg's Hook. In 2013, Mooney and Bennett joined Saturday Night Live as featured players along with McCary, who stayed behind the camera as a segment director. Now Mooney and McCary are transitioning to the big screen with the indie comedy Brigsby Bear, a feature-length narrative about friendship, family, and nostalgia that deftly blends humor and heart to create something that is both odd and oddly affectionate.
Written and directed by Luc Besson (of Léon: The Professional, La Femme Nikita, and Lucy), Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is based on the Valérian and Laureline graphic novel series by writer Pierre Christin and artist Jean-Claude Mézières. First published in 1967 in the French comics magazine, Pilote, the seminal science fiction series paved the way for Heavy Metal, and informed George Lucas' Star Wars and Besson's 1997 film, The Fifth Element, for which Mézières contributed concept art. The live-action adaptation, independently crowd-sourced and personally funded by Besson, is supposedly now the most expensive independent film ever made, but does it live up to its influential source material?
Created by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko, Spider-Man first appeared in 1962's Amazing Fantasy #15, an anthology series published by Marvel Comics. The character's origin story goes something like this: Midtown High's only professional wallflower, Peter Parker, becomes a web-slinging "wall-crawler" when he is bitten by a radioactive spider and acquires the proportionate strength and agility of an arachnid. 55 years later, Spider-Man has become one of the most popular superheroes ever, inspiring countless comics, cartoons, video games, and not one but two film franchises: Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy (2002-2007) and Marc Webb's The Amazing Spider-Man series (2012-2014). Those movies, produced and distributed by Sony, have their moments, but ultimately fail to deliver a definitive take on the character. Enter the appropriately titled Spider-Man: Homecoming, a new film co-produced by Marvel Studios proving third time's the charm.
The British writer-director behind the "Three Flavours Cornetto" trilogy – consisting of Shaun of the Dead (2004), Hot Fuzz (2007), and The World's End (2013) – and also the director behind 2010's Scott Pilgrim vs the World, Edgar Wright, is known for his unique, kinetic, energetic cinematic style. Unlike most comedy directors working today, Wright finds humor in the filmmaking, utilizing framing, lighting, mise-en-scène, camera movement, editing, and sound to pull as much comedy out of a scene as possible. With his latest film, Baby Driver, Wright has not only improved upon his signature style, but matured with it.
Up-and-coming filmmaker Trey Edward Shults follows his acclaimed debut film Krisha with It Comes At Night, a psychological horror thriller centering on a teenage boy (Kelvin Harrison, Jr.) as he faces mounting terrors — both external and internal — in the aftermath of an unnamed apocalypse. Surviving in a secluded, fortress-like home with his two parents, Paul (played by Joel Edgerton) and Sarah (played by Carmen Ejogo, also in Alien: Covenant), 17-year-old Travis is overwhelmed by fear, grief, and uncertainty after losing his grandfather to a mysterious plague responsible for the collapse of human civilization.
Created by William Moulton Marston and Harry G. Peter, Wonder Woman first appeared in 1941's All Star Comics #8 published by DC. Marston, a Tufts University psychology professor, drew inspiration for the superhero demigoddess from early feminists like Ethel Byrne and Margaret Sanger, who founded the American Birth Control League, which later became the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The physical appearance of the character was influenced by Byrne's daughter, Olive, who was Marston's research assistant before becoming romantically involved with the polyamorous professor and his wife.* For more than 75 years since her introduction, Wonder Woman has been an enduring symbol of strength and equality.
In 1977, director Ridley Scott made his feature debut with The Duelist, which won the Best First Film Award at the Cannes Film Festival. His next film, 1979's Alien, catapulted Sigourney Weaver to stardom and would go on to be considered one of the best sci-fi films of all time. A thriller about an extraterrestrial organism that stalks the crew of a spaceship, Alien launched a mega-franchise of movies, novels, comic books, video games, and collectibles that remains a pop culture mainstay nearly 40 years later. In 2010, Scott decided to return to the universe he helped create with Prometheus, a prequel to Alien that would explore the origins of the franchise's iconic Xenomorph creature, as well as the "space jockey"—the giant, elephantine extraterrestrial that briefly appears in the film as the deceased pilot of a derelict spaceship.
In 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy, James Gunn introduced the world to a team of miscreants and misfits forced to come together and save the galaxy. To put it bluntly, they're a bunch of a-holes. With the sequel, titled Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the latest feature from Marvel Studios, the writer-director is tasked with delivering a story that not only continues the epic and irreverent adventures of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and his gang of lovable weirdos, but furthers their evolution as characters as well. Set to the '70s soft rock stylings of Awesome Mix Vol. 2, the sequel picks up a few months after the first film ended.
In the entire history of cinema, only a few select films are so influential, so ingrained in our popular culture, that they become a modern myth. 1933's King Kong, directed by Merian C. Cooper & Ernest B. Schoedsack, is one of those films. As the original effects-driven blockbuster and monster movie milestone, Kong has been re-imagined, parodied, and referenced countless times since first being unleashed more than eight decades ago. Each one of us has, at some point in our lives, encountered The Eighth Wonder of the World. Whether it's a remake, like John Guillermin's 1976 film, or Peter Jackson's in 2005, or a reference made in The Simpsons, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, or Jurassic Park, the legend of the colossal ape endures.
Australian actor Hugh Jackman first played the character of Wolverine back in 2000 in the film that launched the modern day, comic book blockbuster - Bryan Singer's X-Men. Now 17 years later, the Academy Award-nominated actor has inhabited the character an unprecedented nine times on the big screen — that's more times than Roger Moore suited up as James Bond or Robert Englund terrorized Elm Street as Freddy Krueger. With Logan, out in theaters everywhere on March 3rd, Jackman and director James Mangold (of Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma, and The Wolverine) craft something special as a means of laying to rest Jackman's iconic role: an intimate, character-driven film that is brutal, beautiful, and deeply affecting.