Game of Thrones: What The White Walker Spiral Means

Warning: SPOILERS ahead for Game of Thrones season 8, episode 1, “Winterfell”

The Night King left a grim message in the Game of Thrones season 8 premiere, featuring a spiral design that we’ve seen in the show before. In one of the final scenes of “Winterfell,” Tormund and Beric rendez-vous with Jon’s old friend “Dolorous” Edd Tollett at Last Hearth, the ancestral home of House Umber. Unfortunately, the only Umber they found was young Ned Umber, who was impaled on a wall in the center of a grisly spiral of made of severed limbs.

To make matters worse, Ned Umber was not dead but undead: turned into a wight by the Night King. Beric put him out of his misery with his flaming sword, setting fire to the spiral as well. It’s been a while since the last season of Game of Thrones, so you could be forgiven for not remembering it, but this spiral has actually been in the show several times. In season 3, Jon came across some horses belonging to the Night’s Watch, cut up and arranged in a similar spiral. Jon also saw the same spiral pattern carved on the walls of caves in Dragonstone.

Related: Game Of Thrones: What Arya Wants Gendry To Make

The spiral pattern was originally attributed to the Children of the Forest, the ancient race who guided Bran in Game of Thrones season 6. In the episode “The Door,” Bran sees a vision of the Children of the Forest stabbing a man (notably played by the same actor who plays the Night King, Vladimir Furdik) with a dragonglass dagger and seemingly creating the first White Walker. The White Walkers themselves then adopted the spiral as one of their symbols, using it as a way to display the bodies of their victims – including poor Ned Umber.

Here are the instances of the spiral we’ve seen before – starting with the slaughtered horses north of the Wall:

Here’s a spiral of stones surrounding the weirwood tree where the Children of the Forest created the Night King:

Here’s the spiral among the cave drawings on Dragonstone. The White Walkers have also arranged bodies in the shape of another symbol from these caves:

So, what’s the significance of the spirals? We know that they were originally used by the Children of the Forest, and that they were then adopted by the White Walkers. There’s animosity between those two factions, so there’s a strong likelihood that the Night King and his cohorts use the symbols of the Children of the Forest in their acts of horrific violence as a kind of blasphemy against their creators. However, there are also other theories.

Some fans have speculated that the symbols actually have powerful magical properties, and that ritual sacrifices are used to advance the cold weather south – essentially conjuring the winter. Another theory is that the Night King is an ancient Targaryen (a theory bolstered by the fact that he’s able to ride a dragon), and that the spirals are somehow connected to a similar pattern in the Targaryen sigil:

We may learn more about the precise meaning and history of the spiral in the final five episodes of Game of Thrones, or it may simply remain an intriguing aspect of Westerosi history that’s never elaborated upon further. One thing is certain: if Jon and Daenerys can’t find a way to stop the Night King and his army, there will be more gruesome spiral symbols to come.

More: Game Of Thrones: Why Jon Snow Is The Rightful Ruler Of Westeros, Not Dany

Game of Thrones returns to HBO @9pm on Sunday, April 21.

2019-04-14 07:04:44

Hannah Shaw-Williams

What The Game Of Thrones Premiere’s Big Pilot Callback Means For Season 8

WARNING: Spoilers ahead for Game of Thrones season 8, episode 1.

Game of Thrones season 8’s premiere ends with Jaime Lannister arriving in Winterfell and coming face-to-face with Bran Stark, leading to an icy stare that would only be colder if one of them was a White Walker. The moment called back to the Game of Thrones pilot and Jaime’s original sin.

When Jaime was last in Winterfell, it was way back in Game of Thrones season 1 as the head of the Kingsguard to Robert Baratheon. While there, he and sister Cersei snuck away to engage in incestuous relations in secret. However, the nimble-footed Bran Stark was climbing the stone towers and saw them, leading to Jaime pushing the young boy out of a window and permanently disabling him from the waist down.

Related: Game Of Thrones: What Arya Wants Gendry To Make

The pair have been on separate sides of the Westeros map throughout Game of Thrones ever since, but now, with the threat of the Night King looming large, they’re going to have to face the past. The fact that the “reunion” ends the season 8 premiere, “Winterfell”, positions it as a very important moment. But what could it actually mean to the future?

Both of these characters have changed a lot since the Game of Thrones pilot. Jaime has transformed from an initial villain into one of the series’ most sympathetic characters, coming to terms with his ungratifying Kingslayer title and striving to do good. Bran, meanwhile, has transcended his injuries to become the new Three-Eyed Raven, completely losing all emotional connection to his past and family.

This is what makes the premiere ending so interesting: what it means depends massively on the character. For Jaime, it’s something that will force him to accept his past in a more upfront way – unlike killing the Mad King, what he did to Bran was purely evil, and it’s not like he’s been squeaky clean since considering he threatened to kill Tully babes when fighting in the Riverlands in Game of Thrones season 6. However, the boy whose life he ruined will surely have no emotional resentment; Bran has been detached to everyone, from Meera Reed to sister Sansa, and in this episode wouldn’t even personally tell Jon Snow about his true parentage.

Of course, there’s one major wrinkle here going back to the books: it was in dreams about the original push out of the window that Bran had his first proper interaction with the Three-Eyed Raven. It may be that Bran will recognize Jaime as the progenitor of his journey into becoming an all-seeing tree. Although even that angle does little to build expectation of any upset.

Related: How Game Of Thrones Opening Titles Are Different In Season 8

Beyond Bran and Jaime themselves, this connection has much bigger implications. While the death of Jon Arryn orchestrated by Littlefinger is the real starting move in the game, Bran’s injury, Catelyn Stark’s subsequent investigation and the fracturing of Lannister faith was essential in the escalation of the War of the Five Kings. Considering how Sansa and Arya handled Petyr Baelish in the Game of Thrones season 7 finale, this could put Jaime’s desire to fight in the army of the living on thin ice (although trailers do confirm he will eventually be accepted). All of this is before we get to the fact that Jaime killed Daenerys’ father, King Aerys, making him one of the least popular men around.

What this moment really does is hammer home how important past actions will be to Game of Thrones even as the Night King’s army nears Winterfell. In the season 8 premiere, we already saw how Dany’s callous execution of the Tarly’s will have an impact on Sam and, by extension, Jon, who is himself upset at how his honorable father lied to him. While Jaime and Bran may not be a deciding factor in the war to come, what they represent in terms of the start of this journey influencing the end is unavoidable. In Game of Thrones, it really is all about the things you do for love.

Next: Game Of Thrones Season 8: Returning Cast & New Character Guide

Game of Thrones season 8 continues next Sunday at 9pm on HBO.

2019-04-14 07:04:21

Alex Leadbeater

Us Ending Explained (& What It Really Means)

WARNING: Major spoilers for Us from the start.

What does the ending of Us really mean? Jordan Peele’s latest is a scarier film than his debut Get Out, and with that comes a more ambitious exploration of the rot in modern American society.

Us follows the Wilson family – Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o), Gabe (Winston Duke), Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex) – on vacation to Santa Cruz. On their first night, a family of warped doppelgangers invade their house and attempt to kill them. Adelaide, scarred from a previous run-in with these shadows as a child in 1986, leads her family through the horror as they learn the uprising encapsulates the entire country. Known as the Tethered, the attackers are a failed government experiment fighting for their place in the world. Red, Adelaide’s supposed double and Tethered leader, kidnaps Jason, leading to a fight between the mirrors which Adelaide emerges victorious… only for the movie to reveal she was Red all along.

Related: Read Screen Rant’s Review Of Us

A twisted home invasion slasher that takes aim at the heart of American society, there’s a lot of ambiguity to Us in both how its world is constructed and ultimately what Peele is trying to say. If you’re confused and want to learn more, we’re here to help. Discover the secrets and real meaning of the movie in our Us movie ending explainer.

  • Page 1: The Tethered’s Origin & Plan In Us Explained
  • Page 2: Us’ Adelaide/Red Twist Ending Explained
  • Page 3: What Us’ Ending Really Means

The Tethered’s Origins In Us Explained

The doppelgangers that attack the Wilson family – and the rest of the world – in Us are known as the “Tethered”. They are perfect copies – or shadows – created by the U.S. government as a means of controlling the population and stored in the labyrinth of deserted tunnels underneath the country (a reference to the Mole People urban myth). Each Tethered is connected to their above-ground counterpart through a psychic connection, with all aspects of their life recreated meticulously.

The initial purpose of the Tethered in Us was to literally turn the population into puppets: from underground, the Tethered would dictate everybody’s life, removing free will and leaving leaders in complete control. This sort of government-sanctioned control is a popular conspiracy theory, one teased earlier in Us when Zora suggests fluoride is added to the water to make people more docile.

However, this plan didn’t work. Due to some fault in the development of the Tethered, the connection didn’t imbue control, and so the government left their science experiment to its own devices. Either as part of the fault or a result of their discarding, the Tethered became the puppets and were forced to live out a shadow existence, mimicking their original constantly in the drab tunnels. Starved of sunlight and living off rabbits, they become warped, mute versions of their original.

A lot of the Tethered’s origins are left unexplored in Us. How they or the connection were originally created and how a mirror life leading to the same children was subsequently developed is left dangling for the audience to imagine – it may be that Zora is correct and this is just one part of a greater skewing of reality – but that’s because the only important thing is that they exist; the film’s real focus is on their life after creation.

The Tethered’s “Hands Across America” Plan In Us Explained

Us shows the night the Tethered emerge from their underground prison, with most (but, as evidenced by Jason, not all) having weakened their psychic connection. They first go about killing their doubles – along with any other people who get in the way – but the endgame of the uprising isn’t quite so violent; holding hands, they form a long, uninterrupted line from coast-to-coast. The aim isn’t to overthrow those living above but to find a place amongst them, with the line a striking announcement of their arrival.

The protest explicitly evokes Hands Across America, an audacious and successful charity initiative in 1986 where, across the continental United States, people held hands for homelessness charities (there was a $10 donation per place in line). Organized by music manager Ken Kragen and featuring celebrities Michael Jackson (who is referenced via a Thriller t-shirt), Michael J. Fox, Katheleen Turner and even President Reagan, it was a striking fundraiser. In reality, the chain didn’t exist uninterrupted due to the landscape of America, but did include enough people for it to occur in theory. Us‘ version, which was directly inspired by Kragen’s, appears to genuinely stretch across the country regardless of what mountains stand in their way, technically making it an even more striking example.

In the movie, this was all kickstarted when Red, Adelaide’s double, broke free from her connection and rallied the Tethered after a dance recital. Regarded as something of a messiah figure, she rallied all of the Tethered and began preparing them for war. Of course, there’s something darker going on in this pair’s connection…

Page 2 of 3: Us’ Adelaide/Red Twist Ending Explained

The Adelaide/Red Twist Ending Explained

Us opens in 1986 with Adelaide watching TV – including an advertisement for Hands Across America – before being taken to Santa Cruz pier by her parents. She walks off and finds herself in a hall of mirrors attraction. While trying to find her way out, she’s first creeped out by an extra person whistling, then comes across her exact double – her Tether. For much of the movie, we’re meant to believe that this experience irreversibly scarred Adelaide; this connection is how the Tether broke free and the trauma is why she’s so driven to fight back.

However, the final moments of Us‘ ending reveal something much darker: the Tether attacked Adelaide, chained her up in the tunnels, took her Michael Jackson Thriller t-shirt and returned to her parents, taking on a life above land. Adelaide was her own Tether all along! For the sake of simplicity, we’ll call the two characters by how they are known for the majority of the movie: Red is the original, Adelaide is the Tether.

After the switch – which is where the Tether between the two broke – Red assumed Adelaide’s life, learning to live above ground in a mostly normal manner, although still haunted by her early years. She originally suffered from ill-diagnosed P.T.S.D. and upon returning to Santa Cruz has an aversion to going near the beach; the film presents that as fear of the event but it is actually of returning to her origin. How much Red actually remembers is unclear – flashes of memory and her confusion over Adelaide’s two speeches suggest that over time memories has softened.

Adelaide, on the other hand, suffered considerably more after being trapped underground. While at first “Red” is presented as having broke free during a dance recital, the twist suggests that the girl actually used this as a way to rally the Tethered, showing her uniqueness. From there, her ability to speak allowed her to organize the uprising, an event rooted in her last memories of above; she saw Hands Across America on TV hours before the switch.

As with the true nature of Rose’s family in Get Out, there are a lot of clues to the twist early on, from Red telling Jason to “get in rhythm” to a Tethered visage appearing in her reflection when telling Gabe the 1986 story to her animalistic killing of the Tyler twin. Perhaps the biggest, though, is the characters’ evolving speech: Adelaide “loses” the ability to talk after her experience because, as a Tether, she never was able to and must learn, and later, the present day, she says to Kitty (Elizabeth Moss) she’s not much of a talker. Conversely, Red is the only Tether with the ability to speak, which becomes increasingly prominent as the nationwide scale of the story is revealed.

By the end of Us, Red has killed Adelaide following a tense mirrored showdown (where she chokes her just as she did in the hall of mirrors all those years ago) and escaped with her family. Jason suspects the truth – or, at least, that something is off with how his mother handled the outbreak, with her two kills seeing her slip into Tethered clicking – but, essentially, Red has managed to finally put the past to bed. While the Tethered have made their existence known under the leadership of Adelaide, to our lead character what mattered was her killing the big connection to that night in 1986 and her horrific existence before.

And if the fact that she was running and neglecting her past, or that Jason’s discovery has no discernable impact, leaves you feeling a bit morally confused, that’s exactly the point of Us and its ending…

Page 3 of 3: What Us’ Ending Really Means

Us Is A Commentary On Outside Fear

While Us isn’t as directly targeted as Get Out, there’s no avoiding what its core discussion is. This is a film about our fear of “the other” when “the other” is literally just us. More than that, even: when “the other” is a direct product of us and our actions.

The Tethered were created by the American government (the title’s U.S. double meaning is intentional, called our when Adelaide describes her family as “Americans”) as direct replicas of the population and then forgotten. They are the embodiment of outsiders that we’re told to resent by the people who created them. Immediately, that’s the homeless and underprivileged that Hands Across America was built to help while involving a President who made steps to worsen the social gap in a decade of opulence. But they can represent more: black slaves brought to America against their will and resented post-abolition; al-Qaeda, who were in the 1980s freedom fighters who the U.S. funded; and even Native Americans whose land was taken and the people discarded (it’s no coincidence that the hall of mirrors changes from an indigenous-themed attraction to an English mythological one).

But Us isn’t just a history lesson of injustice. It’s telling the audience how these injustices remain to this day, regardless of when they were created. The Tethered were a product of a time before Adelaide’s parents but, as easy as it is to bury, the modern America must address it. The film is a plea for humanity. The Tethered may act differently, but they are intrinsically the same as us; try as we might, there’s no getting around how we’re all the same. Us is a movie about basic human rights.

This isn’t a black-and-white issue. The Tethered’s end goal is non-violent protest, yet to get that point they brutalize their surface world doubles. To see them as relatable humans, we have to look past extreme actions they were pushed to and take in the full context. It’s the reverse of the approach taken by today’s judgemental media, and further roots Us in the here and now.

All of this is underscored by the Red and Adelaide twist. That they could swap and nobody noticed highlights just how close we are to the Tethered, further breaking down any mental barrier that may be put up. Indeed, what Red ultimately cares about is the safety of her family, making her indistinguishable from the humans she has infiltrated.

What Jerimiah 11:11 Means In Us

One recurring aspect of Us that is left unexplained is the repeated reference to Bible passage Jerimiah 11:11. It’s seen multiple times on a cardboard sign held by a drifter in Santa Cruz and one of the first to be killed by his Tethered. The movie doesn’t provide the quote so, first, here’s what it says:

“Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them.”

Obliquely, it represents the brutality of the Tethered in their uprising and how unrelenting they are, with the command of the Lord being that of Adelaide, the only one who can speak. However, coming from a surface human and one murdered early on, this more represents the misguided view of what the Tethered are trying to achieve, a skewed propaganda take on what is meant to be a leveling of the playing field. Considering that religious rhetoric is synonymous with the far right media, there’s a further crass statement to be made.

Us is not an immediately open movie. It intentionally hides its narrative and thematic meanings behind a note-perfect slasher riff, but it’s in diving deeper the real and relevant horrors come out. This is a fantasy world of a twilight zone, and yet it’s far too real.

Next: Us Is A Very Different Film To Get Out

2019-03-22 02:03:51

Alex Leadbeater

Aquaman’s Post-Credits Scene Has A Flashpoint Tease: What It Means For The DCEU

Aquaman Post Credits Flashpoint Tease

Aquaman‘s post-credit scene has an interesting tease for the DC Extended Universe Flashpoint movie, but there’s one small problem with that – there isn’t going to be a Flashpoint movie. No, this isn’t the result of us passing into an alternate timeline, but rather the result of Warner Bros. backtracking on basing the first solo movie with Ezra Miller’s Flash on Flashpoint, the 2011 comic miniseries written by Geoff Johns.

The Flash movie has been somewhat stuck in limbo for the past couple of years. At one point, Warner Bros. had a confident lineup of DCEU movies that included Justice League Part 2, a Cyborg movie, and Green Lantern Corps. However, since that slate was originally announced the DCEU has been through a series of highs and lows, and Warner Bros.’ structure of DC Films executives has been through a couple of shakeups, meaning that the future of the DCEU now looks very different to what it once did.

Related: What is Flashpoint?

Directed by James Wan, Aquaman was made at the heart of the DCEU’s biggest transition, with plans for other movies shifting around it. Since Aquaman is part of a shared cinematic universe and takes place after the events of Justice League (which also introduced Aquaman’s partner in crime and love interest, Mera), it naturally has several links to the rest of the DCEU – including a bizarre rumor about Aquaman and Wonder Woman dating that has more to it than meets the eye.

  • This Page: Aquaman’s Post-Credits Flashpoint Tease Explained
  • Page 2: The Flash Movie Is No Longer Flashpoint

Aquaman’s Post-Credits Flashpoint Tease Explained

Aquaman Wonder Woman Wedding Flashpoint

Secondary villain Black Manta gets knocked out of the fight before the movie arrives at its third act, but he does make a comeback in Aquaman’s post-credits scene, which sets him up to return in a future movie. In this scene, a wounded Black Manta wakes up on a fishing boat off the coast of Italy and finds Dr. Stephen Shin (played by Randall Park) examining his super-suit. Shin recognizes the Atlantean tech because he has been obsessed with the possible existence of Atlantis, and has been gathering evidence in the form of newspaper clippings about Aquaman, which are pasted to the walls of his boat. One of those newspaper clippings

While this might just seem like a throwaway world-building gag about the media furor over the Justice League, there’s actually more to it than that. Speaking on the Fire and Water podcast, Neil Daly (who organized the test screenings for Aquaman) offered some intriguing behind-the-scenes details for the movie, and explained that the newspaper clippings were designed to tease the upcoming DCEU movies:

“One of [the newspaper clippings] is from Coast City [home of Hal Jordan a.k.a. Green Lantern]. There was another one, that one of the newspaper headings said ‘Wonder Woman Nixes Aquaman Dating Rumor,” which most people are just going to take that as tongue-in-cheek and think it was funny. But at the time of the filming, that was when they were still talking about going ahead with Flashpoint being the Flash story that they were going to do. And so there was a reference to Aquaman and Wonder Woman dating.”

Aquaman and Wonder Woman have never been romantically involved in DC Comics… except in Flashpoint. And even then, it wasn’t particularly romantic. In that story, Barry Allen goes back in time and saves his mother from being murdered, which results in history unfolding differently. In the new timeline, Aquaman and Wonder Woman decide to get married for the sake of strengthening their respective dynasties, but the decision sparks serious backlash among both the Amazons and the Atlanteans. On the day of the wedding there is an assassination attempt that leads to further violence and the union being called off. In the wake of this there is an Atlantean-Amazonian war that rips apart the world and results in the deaths of many major DC characters.

Related: Aquaman’s Box Office Success Was Better Than Anybody (Even DC) Expected

The DCEU Was Going To Do Flashpoint

The original plan for the DCEU was based primarily around Henry Cavill’s Superman and Ben Affleck’s Batman, and in particular around director Zack Snyder’s planned five-movie arc for Superman. Warner Bros. naturally assumed that the two most famous DC characters would also be the biggest draws at the box office. However, each movie that was released undermined those assumptions, with Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice underperforming at the box office and Wonder Woman performing far better than anyone expected. Aquaman itself has continued to shatter those expectations by becoming the highest-grossing DCEU movie so far and the first to hit the billion dollar mark at the worldwide box office. Not bad for a guy who talks to fish!

One of the movies that Warner Bros. had lined up for the DCEU was a solo Flash movie. In July 2017, at San Diego Comic-Con, Warner Bros. revealed a logo for this movie that also dropped a bombshell: the title of the movie was Flashpoint! Fans of the comic were naturally hyped, but since then the plans have changed.

Page 2: The Flash Movie Is No Longer Flashpoint

Ezra Miller as The Flash in Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice

The Flash Movie Is No Longer Flashpoint

It’s unclear when exactly Warner Bros. first decided when the Flash movie would be based on Flashpoint, but in summer 2017 that was definitely the plan. At this time, Aquaman had been filming for about two and a half months, and the Flash movie was still searching for a director following Rick Famuyiwa’s exit in fall 2016. The script for the Flashpoint movie was written by Joby Harold, and was submitted to Warner Bros. in September 2017. In October 2017, a report emerged that the Flash movie’s future would depend on the reception of Justice League.

Justice League, after being handed off to Joss Whedon by original director Zack Snyder, did not get a great reception, with the biggest complaint among fans being the sense that the original “Snyder Cut” was lost amid heavy reshoots and editing designed to simplify the movie and lighten the tone. That tone-lightening was the first stage of a shift in direction for the DCEU, and the second stage came in the wake of Justice League‘s lukewarm reviews and box office.

Related: Removing The Snyder Movies From Canon Solves The DCEU’s Problems

January 2018 was a big month for both the Flash movie and the DCEU as a whole. IT and The Conjuring producer Walter Hamada replaced Geoff Johns (the writer of the Flashpoint comics) as the head of DC Films. A couple of weeks later, the Flash movie finally found not one director, but two: Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, who were two of the writers for Spider-Man: Homecoming.

The Aquaman reshoots, which included the post-credits scene with Randall Park, took place in spring 2018, and in April 2018 we learned that the Flash movie was no longer called Flashpoint. Though there were continued promises that filming would begin soon, it emerged in October 2018 that the Flash movie had been delayed and is now not expected to begin filming until late 2019 at the very earliest. As far as we’re aware there still isn’t a new script to replace Flashpoint, but it wouldn’t be surprising if a new screenwriter (or screenwriters) was revealed in the coming months.

This Flashpoint Easter Egg Is A Relic Of Old DC

Even without Flashpoint on the way, the newspaper clipping in Aquaman‘s post-credits scene still works as an amusing bit of world-building that shows how the world (gossip magazines included) reacted to the emergence of the first ever superhero team. But because it was originally intended as a reference to Flashpoint, it also stands as an interesting relic of the transformative period during which Aquaman was made. Director James Wan had a considerable challenge on his hands, as the shape of the cinematic universe in which his movie was set changed significantly between the start of filming and the end of reshoots. It’s little wonder that it’s the most self-contained DCEU movie so far, with no cameos from other Justice League members and few references to events from other movies.

While the Flash movie may not be directly based on Flashpoint any more, it may still involve time travel elements. A couple of months after we learned that the original title had been dropped, it was reported that Back to the Future was being used as a “touchstone” for the movie. Based on what we know about the current direction of the DCEU, we can speculate that the Flash movie may retain aspects of Flashpoint (for example, Barry travelling back in time to the moment of his mother’s death), but that it’s dropping the global Atlantean-Amazonian war plotline and the countless superhero cameos in favor of a more focused story that’s all about Barry.

So far the biggest success stories of the DCEU have been Wonder Woman and Aquaman, both of which mostly eschewed wider universe connections and the obsession with Batman and Superman in favor of focusing on their titular heroes. If Warner Bros. takes a similar approach with the Flash movie, they could have another huge hit on their hands.

More: The Flash Movie: Every Update You Need to Know

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2019-01-23 02:01:39

Magic esports Means The End of Pro Tours

Magic: The Gathering Arena is heralding a massive shift in the way competitive Magic will be played in 2019, and it will also spell the end of the game’s most iconic tournament series – the Pro Tours that showcase the game’s best professional players and brand new deck ideas. Wizards of the Coast Vice President of Esports Elaine Chase went on record in an interview with Screen Rant earlier this week to confirm the departure of Pro Tours from the competitive Magic: The Gathering scene.

Pro Tours have existed in Magic since 1996, and have been a fixture of the game’s competitive play since then. An invitation-only event that is usually held four times a year, the Pro Tour represented the highest stakes tournament series annually, outside of one-off events like the World Championships. For many Magic: The Gathering players, the dream of “making the Pro Tour” by winning a qualifier or placing highly at Magic’s Grand Prix events is at the core of their decision to play competitively.

Related: Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast Announce Magic esports

Pro Tours will be no more after Magic esports is fully implemented, but that doesn’t mean Magic won’t have similar tournaments – in fact, the competitive tournament series replacing Pro Tours will feature even more in prizes. In Screen Rant’s interview with Elaine Chase, she described how Wizards of the Coast sees the future of professional Magic after Pro Tours are gone:

“The Pro Tours themselves are actually going to be transitioning into Mythic Championships…we’re making it different because we really want to separate out the professional players in the MPL (Magic Pro League) from the tournaments that are open to the public that can come in and challenge them. So we’re unifying all our flagship championship events under the banner of Mythic Championships whether they’re in tabletop or MTG Arena.”

The Mythic Championships announced during the Magic esports reveal at The Game Awards 2018 will be the game’s new version of the Pro Tour, with an intent to showcase an elite class of pros across both tabletop and Magic Arena. The latter is an important fixture; previously, Pro Tours were kept distinctly separate from Magic’s previous online client, Magic: The Gathering Online. It is clear that Wizards of the Coast believes the future of Magic lies in a more balanced split between its premium digital offering in Magic Arena and its already established tabletop presence.

While the change is likely a net positive one – there are more prizes available in Mythic Championships, and using Magic Arena for some of them will help bring more eyeballs onto Wizards’ product – the transition is still bittersweet. There was a mystique about the Pro Tours that had been built up over decades of the tournament series existing, and it will not be one that is easily replaced. For many, the desire to end up playing a Pro Tour was what kept them going through the competitive grind’s ups and downs. While the Mythic Championships appear to be an upgrade, it may be a while before they build up the same legendary vibe that made Pro Tours so appealing.

More: Magic: The Gathering Arena Adding Direct Challenges & Streamer Events

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2018-12-06 07:12:02

Does Bad Times At The El Royale Have A Post-Credits Scene?

Drew Goddard’s Bad Times at the El Royale sees the writer-director try his hand at a ’60s-set noir thriller, but does it have a post-credits scene setting up a sequel or clearing up the ending? Goddard made a name for himself in Hollywood as a writer, working on TV shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Alias. He made his directorial debut on 2012’s The Cabin in the Woods, a film he co-wrote with Joss Whedon. The movie became a hit with critics and well-remembered by horror fans for its handling of tropes typical to the genre. Now, Goddard returns to film directing with this year’s Bad Times at the El Royale.

The movie follows seven strangers over the course of one night in the ’60s at a motel called the El Royale, which sits on the border between California and Nevada. The star-studded cast includes Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Jon Hamm, Dakota Johnson, Chris Hemsworth, Cailee Spaeny and Lewis Pullman as guests of the motel and the concierge working at the establishment. As the movie progresses, viewers follow the various characters throughout the night and gain insight into the backstories before arriving at the El Royale.

Related: Screen Rant’s Review of Bad Times at the El Royale

Now that the movie is in theaters, fans of Goddard – and/or those intrigued by the Bad Times at the El Royale trailers – have a chance to check it out, but they may be wondering if there’s an extra scene after the credits. Unfortunately, Bad Times at the El Royale does not have a post-credits scene, which means the movie wraps up entirely before the credits start to roll. While it’s always worth it to watch the credits of a film and get an idea of who was involved in making it, Bad Times at the El Royale doesn’t feature any extra teaser or scene at the very end.

Those who have seen Bad Times at the El Royale know the movie doesn’t quite leave room for a sequel, though there are undoubtedly ways one could be done. Still, it makes sense that the film doesn’t feature a post-credits scene setting up a follow-up. It’s relatively clear that there won’t be a sequel to the movie – just like there won’t be a sequel to Cabin in the Woods – but not all post-credits scenes are explicitly sequel teasers. Some are simply an additional scene that offer added context or insight into the main movie.

For instance, a Bad Times at the El Royale post-credits scene could have cleared up the mystery of who was on the film reel that’s discussed throughout the movie. Instead, viewers are left to ponder who might be the man on that reel (which was, no doubt, Goddard’s intention). So, while there may have been a way for Bad Times at the El Royale to incorporate a post-credits scene, it also doesn’t necessarily need one. At the end of the day, whether or not a movie includes a post-credits scene is up to the director and Goddard chose not to include one for Bad Times at the El Royale.

Next: Bad Times At The El Royale’s Ending & Big Mysteries Explained

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2018-10-11 04:10:56 – Molly Freeman

18 Best Sequels, According To Rotten Tomatoes (And 8 Stuck With 0%)

We live in an age where sequels are all the rage. Every major studio is chasing those franchises that can keep their cash flow healthy for years to come. Sometimes, they’re exhausting. Other times, they can be our most anticipated movies. Maybe we could do without more Transformers movies, but Marvel and Mission: Impossible sequels are event movies that drive us to the theater in droves.

Sequels are tricky and unpredictable, though. On one hand, they’re often necessary for expanding stories and the good ones continue sagas we want to see progress. On the other, some are soulless cash grabs that shouldn’t exist. In the worst cases, some of them completely derail promising franchises by failing to deliver the goods. Then again, in some instances, sequels can get a series back up and running after they’ve experienced setbacks.

This list will look at those rare sequels that are considered worthy — and even superior — follow-ups. Those rare beasts that make us grateful for multiple movies in a series. Furthermore, we’ll also be discussing the most maligned sequels that brought no critical good will to their respective franchises whatsoever. It’s more fun this way. In order to fully appreciate the best of the best, we also must acknowledge the worst of the worst. Without evil, we wouldn’t be able to understand all that’s good and pure. Without terrible movies, we wouldn’t be grateful for the good ones.

With this in mind, here are 18 Best Sequels According To Rotten Tomatoes (And 8 Stuck With 0%).

26 Best: Captain America: Civil War (91%)

The decision to keep the same team of writers for all three Captain America films paid off in the end. The trilogy just went from strength to strength with each passing entry, though some would argue that The Winter Soldier is equally as good — if not better — than Civil War. Either way, they’re both prime examples of how to do sequels right.

Civil War tackles the same themes you’d expect from a movie about a do-gooder like Cap, but where the film truly soars is during its wild third act. The airport showdown is the best action showdown in the MCU, and that’s saying something.

25 Worst: The Bad News Bears Go To Japan (0%)

If you didn’t know that sequels to The Bad News Bears exist then no one would think any less of you. While the first movie is a cult classic about an underdog baseball team, the sequels have faded from the collective memory with the passing of time, lost like tears in the rain. That’s for good reason.

None of the sequels are good, but The Bad News Bears Go To Japan is especially bad.

While the idea to relocate to Japan for a big game is good on paper, the sequel is just bland, forgettable, and was made to cash in on the brand name.

24 Best: Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (93%)

Some fans argue that The Force Awakens is essentially a retread of A New Hope in many ways. However, clearly the critics and audiences didn’t necessarily agree, given its stellar Rotten Tomatoes score and its audience score of 87%, not to mention its impressive box office haul.

As far as Star Wars movies go, it hits the spot. The new characters are great, the return of some old faces is a trip down memory lane, and the story still made significant effort to push the franchise forward. In those regards, the film definitely succeeded.

23 Best: War for the Planet of the Apes (93%)

Anyone who has a problem with classics being rebooted needs to watch the most recent Planet of the Apes trilogy.  The finale pits the apes in a brutal battle against the humans, which leads to an epic confrontation between the Caesar the Ape and humanity’s ruthless colonel (played by an utterly wicked Woody Harrelson). As far as concluding trilogies goes, War for the Planet of the Apes has everything.

By no means is this a pleasant movie, but it is rewarding. And not only does it wrap up an epic story, but the film boasts some of the great CGI wizardry out there. The action is also ridiculously impressive and compelling, which is crazy considering it’s a movie about people versus monkeys.

22 Best: Logan (93%)

James Mangold’s Logan, the gloriously violent and heartbreaking farewell to Patrick Stewart’s Professor X and Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, is an all-timer. Taking cues from the Old Man Logan comics, the movie has just as much in common with neo-westerns as it does with superhero yarns, which makes for a gritty, character-driven elegy to characters many of us grew up with.

Logan deserves praise for going R-rated and taking some stylistic risks.

The movie is proof that audiences will still flock to see superhero movies with some edge. If you’re going to send off some icons, this is the way to do it.

21 Worst: Return to the Blue Lagoon (0%)

Considering that no one liked The Blue Lagoon (it currently holds a 9% rating on RT), why anyone would want to return to the franchise is beyond comprehension. Of course, every sequel is a perfect opportunity to right some old wrongs if handled with care. Unfortunately, this was not. The story follows two children who are marooned on a tropical island as the grow up and fall in love, etc. The characters don’t wear enough clothes either, which makes for some weird, uncomfortable viewing.

There are some unintentional laughs to be had at the poor script and performances.

Otherwise the Blue Lagoon isn’t a scenic cinematic paradise worth spending time in unless you want to punish yourself for some reason.

20 Best: The Dark Knight (94%)

Few superhero movies are ever regarded as anything more than popcorn fare. However, if there were ever a superhero movie that proved the genre could be prestige cinema, it would be The Dark Knight. Christopher Nolan’s take on Batman is an exploration of chaos and just how far people are willing to go to achieve their goal.

The Dark Knight — for better or worse when you consider how devoid of fun some DC movies have been since — also brought a gritty, realistic touch to the genre. The movie feels more like a Michael Mann crime saga than it does a story about superheroes versus their outlandishly evil counterparts.

19 Best: Finding Dory (94%)

In recent times, Pixar has been criticized for relying too heavily on sequels, but if it ain’t broke… Finding Dory was released 13 years after Finding Nemo, and it was a smash with critics and audiences alike.

Its 94% on Rotten Tomatoes is complemented by an 84% audience score.

Upon release Finding Dory was praised for being as funny and thought-provoking as the first movie, while also adding a new dimension to the story. As with any Pixar movie, Finding Dory can be appreciated by audiences of all ages. 

18 Worst: Staying Alive (0%)

No other actor on the planet has experienced a career of ups and downs like John Travolta has. When he broke out he had the world at his dancing feet. After that, his career experienced a downturn until it was resurrected briefly following Pulp Fiction until it ultimately plummeted when he started starring in movies like Battlefield Earth. Staying Alive was released in 1983 when Travolta was experiencing his first fall from grace. Following up a classic like Saturday Night Fever was never going to be easy, but it shouldn’t have been this difficult, either.

The sequel lacks the gritty realism of its predecessor, and instead tries to get by on dance sequences. What’s the point in dancing when we don’t care about who’s doing it?

17 Best: Creed (95%)

No franchise tends to remain compelling seven sequels in, but Creed is proof that the Rocky franchise is the rare exception. Granted, some Rocky movies aren’t exactly knockouts, but Creed got things back on track and showed that it’s game for a few more rounds.

By serving as both a sequel and a spin-off/soft reboot, Creed gave the franchise a breath of new life.

It passed the gloves on to Michael B. Jordan as the eponymous character.  Creed 2 is right around the corner. Let’s see if it can do what the original saga failed to do and deliver a second outing that’s as good as the inaugural entry.

16 Worst: Leprechaun 2 (0%)

The first Leprechaun movie doesn’t come close to being certified fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, so it should come as no surprise that the sequels didn’t receive any critical acclaim. Especially not the second movie, which no critic seemed to enjoy at all.

Here, the infamous critter resurfaces in Los Angeles to find a bride, which leads to him abducting a young woman and trying to claim her as his own. This isn’t high art by any means, nor does it try to be.

15 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (96%)

The Harry Potter books were an emotional roller coaster that affected millions of readers worldwide. Reliving those adventures on the big screen was also a great time to be alive, and the grand finale lived up to expectations. In the final installment of the saga about the Boy Who Lived and his fight against the forces of darkness, the ultimate showdown finally happens as our hero and his pals face off against Voldemort in Hogwarts castle.

It’s a true epic in every sense of the word.

As far as wrapping up the story goes, Death Hallows: Part 2 delivered the goods and gave us cinematic closure in style.

14 Worst: Looking Who’s Talking Now (0%)

Look Who’s Talking is a perfectly serviceable comedy that should never have received any sequels. In a bid to end to the trilogy on a high following the disappointing previous sequel, Look Who’s Talking Too, someone thought it would be a good idea to introduce talking dogs to the mix for the series’ swan song. 

Needless to say, Look Who’s Talking Now wasn’t the glorious goodbye the series was looking for, but at least the film did cast some cute dogs.

13 Best: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (97%)

The third installment of Sergio Leone’s influential Dollars trilogy, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly is the creme de la creme of spaghetti westerns. 

The story centers around two men who form an uneasy alliance following a scam.

This leads them on a quest as it turns out there’s money buried in the desert and they want to find it. However, they have to compete against another who won’t hesitate to put a bullet in them to claim the prize. On top of being one of the most acclaimed movies out there, the film has been hailed as a major influence on directors like Quentin Tarantino.

12 Best: The Godfather: Part II (97%)

The continuation of Francis Ford Coppola’s Best Picture-winning 1972 crime saga, The Godfather: Part II chronicles Michael Corleone’s further ascendency in organized crime while simultaneously taking us back to the past to explore his dad’s humble beginnings.

Like its predecessor, the sequel also won Best Picture and is hailed by many a critic and film buff as one of the best movies ever made. Whether it’s better than the original is up for debate, but they’re like two sides of the same coin. These movies set the bar for mob pictures, and to this day, other directors are still trying to recreate the formula.

11 Mad Max: Fury Road (97%)

Director George Miller was in his seventies when he unleashed Mad Max: Fury Road, but the energy and madness imbued in every frame of this extravaganza suggest a man half his age.

Maybe we’ll never see another Mad Max movie, but the world needs a Furiosa spin-off eventually.

Fury Road is essentially one non-stop chase that barely lets up from the get-go all the way to the climactic ending. Furthermore, it’s a movie that defied expectation by taking the focus away from the titular character and making Charlize Theron’s Furiosa the real hero of the adventure. 

10 Worst: Jaws: The Revenge (0%)

Is Jaws: the Revenge a good movie? Definitely not. Is it an entertaining movie, though? Definitely yes.

How many other movies have sharks that make a conscious decision to get revenge on the humans that wronged them? Not only that, but the shark here followed its target to the Bahamas from Massachusetts. And why would someone who wants to avoid sharks go to an island surrounded by ocean? The movie is illogical, silly, nonsense, but it does offer sheer entertainment value for bad movie buffs.

9 Best: Aliens (98%)

Alien and Aliens are quite different in some regards, but they complement each other perfectly. The first is an exercise in pure suspense and terror. The sequel, on the other hand, retains the horror elements but adds a lot more action to proceedings.

Aliens shows how to make a successful sequel: acknowledge what came before but don’t be afraid to bring some fresh ideas to the table.

James Cameron was on fire in the ’80s and he wasn’t afraid to make Ridley Scott’s baby his own.

8 Best: Mad Max 2: Road Warrior (98%)

While George Miller’s inaugural Mad Max caper is a cult classic, most film buffs would agree that a couple of the sequels are slightly superior. Taking nothing away from the first movie, Road Warrior is a vast improvement when it comes to world building and sheer action spectacle. The story follows the eponymous character as he helps a group of people steal oil from a tyrannical madman and his band of goons.

As far as cinematic thrill rides go, few movies are on par with Road Warrior. Here, Miller turned up the volume significantly by making the post-apocalyptic terrains feel more dangerous and the action sequences more gung-ho and grander in scale.

7 Best: Evil Dead 2 (98%)

Sam Raimi’s first Evil Dead movie was a huge achievement for independent filmmaking when it was released back in 1981. The movie still holds up to this day with its innovative camera work, effective scares, and excellent cast as well.

The sequel is a triumph in its own right.

While the first movie contained moments of dark comedy, the sequel amps up the zaniness to become what is essentially the splatter flick equivalent of a Laurel and Hardy flick. For 90 minutes, Bruce Campbell is tormented by laughing ornaments and his own severed hand. As silly as that sounds, Evil Dead 2 still manages to pack more punch than your average MMA fighter.

6 Worst: Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol (0%)

In the third installment of the Police Academy franchise, the cops are understaffed and in need of some help. Naturally, the force turns to America’s civilians to help aid in their mission. Things don’t go smoothly, for the characters in the film and the movie itself.

Rotten Tomatoes describes Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol as “Utterly, completely, thoroughly and astonishingly unfunny” and  a movie which sent “a once-innocuous franchise plummeting to agonizing new depths.” That sounds about right.

5 Toy Story 3 (99%)

Few franchises manage to strike three home runs in a row. Even The Godfather stuttered when it came to the third outing. Toy Story, on the other hand, never ceases to replicate the magic time and time again.

This emotional installment sees Andy get ready to leave for college and neglect his old toys.

He’s all grown up and has no use for them anymore, and what ensues is what is by far the most heartfelt movie in the series.

4 Worst: Highlander II: The Quickening (0%)

As far as pure entertaining action-fantasy goes, the first Highlander movie is a fun slice of popcorn entertainment that aficionados of cult cinema lose their head over. The sequel, meanwhile, is an incomprehensible mess.

Highlander II is too overplotted to explain, but the cusp of the story revolves around the hero from the first movie taking on a corporation after being led to believe that they don’t have the world’s best interests in mind. In this one, our hero is a defender of the ozone as well. What makes Highlander II so awful is that it completely retcons everything good about the original film and the mythology it introduced.

3 Best: The Bride of Frankenstein (100%)

We all desire to be loved by someone special– even bolt-head monsters made up of the remains of other people. But to find them a mate, one must dig up some more corpses and create a suitable partner that’s similar in genetic make-up. This is also the storyline behind James Whale’s 1935 masterpiece, Bride of Frankenstein.

There are too many Frankenstein movies to keep track of at this point, but this sequel remains the pinnacle of the original series.

The movie is a masterpiece that successfully blends campy fun with Gothic beauty and genuine chills that’s stood the test of time as a result.

2 Paddington 2 (100%)

No one expected the the first Paddington to be as good as it is. That movie is a bona fide classic in the making in its own right, but the sequel is some next-next level brilliance.

Paddington 2 sees the lovable bear go to prison and, unsurprisingly, all the mean criminals fall in love with him as well. Critics, like the fictional convicts, were also full of praise for the titular bear and his second big onscreen adventure as well. At one point, Paddington 2 was even the best reviewed movie in history.

1 Best: Toy Story 2 (100%)

Following up a movie like Toy Story was never going to be easy, but that didn’t stop Pixar from trying and succeeding. In this one, we find out that Woody is a collectible when he’s discovered and stolen by a greedy museum owner. Naturally this prompts Buzz Lightyear, Mr. Potato, and the rest of the gang into action and they set out to save their friend.

General consensus on Rotten Tomatoes states that Toy Story 2 is that rare sequel that improves upon its predecessor.

The sequel raises the stakes and ups the element of adventure while retaining the humor and heart that made audiences fall in love with the franchise in the first place.

What’s your favorite sequel? Let us know in the comments!

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2018-10-10 04:10:39 – Kieran Fisher

Spider-Man: Far From Home First Teaser Poster Spotted At Licensing Expo

Sony’s Spider-Man: Far From Home gets a teaser poster as the promotional image is spotted at the Brand Licensing Europe 2018 event in London. Thanks to a deal between Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Captain America: Civil War. Since then, Holland’s wall-crawling superhero has headlined his own movie in Spider-Man: Homecoming and teamed up with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in Avengers: Infinity War. Next, Spidey will return for Avengers 4, then the beloved Marvel hero will kick off Phase 4 of the MCU with Spider-Man: Far From Home.

Despite Peter Parker becoming the victim of Thanos’ snap as part of Infinity War’s cliffhanger ending, we know the web-head will return somehow – whether that means Avengers 4 will use time travel, though, remains to be seen. Holland and stars of Homecoming returned to work this summer as Spider-Man: Far From Home has been filming across Europe. Set photos from the Spider-Man sequel have offered looks at MCU characters joining the Sony movie, including Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury and Cobie Smulders’ Maria Hill. Now, a promo poster for Spider-Man: Far From Home has also surfaced.

Related: Every Villain Rumored For Spider-Man: Far From Home

Instagram user Dirtees posted a group of photos from the floor of the Brand Licensing Europe 2018 expo in London, United Kingdom this week. The fourth photo in the post (which can be located by clicking through the series of photos below) features a hanging promotion image for Spider-Man: Far From Home. It appears to be an image of Spider-Man from Homecoming that was repurposed with the Spider-Man: Far From Home movie logo. Take a look at the image below.

Of course, Sony can use images of Spider-Man from Homecoming for the Far From Home posters because Peter Parker is expected to be wearing the same superhero suit. Previously, Holland confirmed Spider-Man will wear the Homecoming suit in the sequel, despite upgrading to the Iron-Spider suit for Infinity War. However, based on Far From Home set photos, Spider-Man will also don a stealth suit that’s all black. Fans have theorized this suit is inspired by Spider-Man Noir, but how exactly Spidey gets the black suit for Far From Home remains to be seen. All we know for now is that Peter Parker will trade in his red and blue costume for something more covert (or, perhaps it’s a separate mode built into the old suit by Tony Stark).

Unfortunately, this Spider-Man: Far From Home promotional poster doesn’t reveal anything new from the movie – neither in terms of the web-head’s suit nor otherwise. That said, with Far From Home set to hit theaters in July 2019, we aren’t too far off from Sony kicking off marketing for the Spider-Man sequel. While there are two MCU movies due in theaters before Far From HomeCaptain Marvel and Avengers 4 – their close release dates mean the marketing pushes for each film will inevitably overlap. Plus, given how secretive Marvel Studios has been with Avengers 4, it’s entirely possible we’ll see some official artwork for Spider-Man: Far From Home even before the Phase 3 capper releases a trailer. For now, fans will have to wait and see – and make due with Holland’s occasional social media reveals and the Spider-Man: Far From Home set photos.

Next: 2019 Will Have The Most Superhero Movies Ever Released

Source: Dirtees/Instagram

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2018-10-10 02:10:45 – Molly Freeman

The Disney-Fox Deal Will Close January 2019

The Walt Disney Company and 21st Century Fox’s major merger is coming together faster than anticipated and will now officially be completed on January 1, 2019. Fox has plenty of success over the years through a variety of media outlets, but determined they could not properly compete in the movie and TV space. They looked to sell these branches of the company and quickly found Disney to be their preferred buyer. Comcast attempted to pull the deal out from under Disney’s reaches, but simply made them pay them pay $71 billion for Fox’s assets instead of the initial $54 billion bid.

There has been plenty of resistance to the deal because of the monopoly Disney continues to grow and the job losses that will come from it. From Disney’s perspective, they view the Fox acquisition as a great way to enhance their library of content prior to launching their own streaming service late next year. Throughout the process, it was anticipated that summer 2019 would be when the deal would close, but it’ll actually be much sooner.

Related: What Will Happen to Fox’s R-Rated Franchises Under Disney?

Variety shared the news that 21st Century Fox president Peter Rice told Fox employees the merger will be “ready to close” on January 1, 2019. This effectively means that 2018 will be the final year for this current look of Fox and moves up the timeline for the merger as a result.

Disney and Fox shareholders officially approved the terms of the merger back in July, less than a month after the Department of Justice approved the deal on their own. The studios have since been seeking approval in various countries around the world, while also figuring out the new hierarchy of Disney in a post-merger landscape. For Rice’s part, he’s joining Disney as a top TV executive. Disney recently made several of these types of moves official, while other executives have already found jobs elsewhere for when the merger closes.

The accelerated timetable of the deal comes after reports that a late 2018 finalization could be possible. They will miss this mark by a day it appears, as both studios now hope to become one at the turn of the calendar year. This is all barring some unforeseen mishap with the deal, but considering how well the deal has gone so far, it is difficult to imagine anything coming up now that would hinder them from completing the deal on Jan 1. After all, Rice told this to all of Fox’s current employees in a town-hall setting at their Los Angeles studio, so they must be confident that this date will stick. How quickly changes, such as cancellation of some projects or Marvel Studios’ plans for the X-Men, are made from then on remain to be seen. But, we do at least now know when the merger will be completed.

MORE: Marvel Has Time To Put X-Men Into Avengers 4 (But Probably Won’t)

Source: Variety

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2018-10-10 01:10:31 – Cooper Hood

22 July Review: Paul Greengrass Delivers Another Intense Docudrama

Despite some general storytelling issues, Greengrass succeeds in delivering another well-crafted and intelligent docudrama-thriller with 22 July.

In-between his efforts on the Bourne movies, journalist-turned filmmaker Paul Greengrass has spent much of his career making docudrama-thrillers about real-world events, ranging from the September 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. (United 93) to the hijacking of the Maersk Alabama in 2009 (Captain Phillips). While there’s an inherent risk of exploiting a real-world tragedy that comes with any such project, Greengrass has long been celebrated for his ability to dramatize terrible events on the big screen in a manner that’s intense, yet sensitive and ultimately insightful in its presentation. Thankfully, that remains the case with his Netflix Original 22 July, even if it doesn’t necessarily represent the writer/director at his finest. Despite some general storytelling issues, Greengrass succeeds in delivering another well-crafted and intelligent docudrama-thriller with 22 July.

22 July picks up on July 21, 2011 in Oslo, Norway, as Anders Behring Breivik (Anders Danielsen Lie) – a self-declared right wing extremist – prepares to carry out a terrorist attack on the city the next day. He begins his assault by setting off a bomb in a van near the main office of the then-current Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg (Ola G. Furuseth), killing eight people in the process. Breivik then proceeds to continue his attack by gunning down 69 members of a summer camp organized by the AUF – the youth division of the Norwegian Labour Party – on the island of Utøya, before he is ultimately apprehended by the police and taken into custody.

Among the members of the summer camp is one Viljar Hanssen (Jonas Strand Gravli), who manages to survive Breivik’s attack despite being shot multiple times and left permanently maimed. As Viljar struggles to recover both physically and psychologically from what happened to him (along with everyone else who survived the Utøya shootings and their loved ones), Breivik works with his chosen lawyer Geir Lippestad (Jon Øigarden) to mount a defense and use his trial as a platform to publicly announce his political agenda (which calls for the immediate deportation of all Muslims and heavier restrictions on immigration to Norway, among other things). When it becomes clear to Viljar what Breivik intends to do, he grows increasingly determined to continue his rehabilitation and testify against him in court for not only himself, but also every other person whose lives were affected by what took place on July 22.

Adapted from the book One of Us: The Story of a Massacre in Norway — and Its Aftermath by Åsne Seierstad, Greengrass’ script for 22 July has a very clear-cut three act structure – with the first act focused on the July 22 attack, the second part set during its immediate aftermath, and the final third centered on Breivik’s trial. The film is strongest during its first and third acts in particular, as those chapters (respectively) play to Greengrass’ strengths as a suspense-thriller storyteller and provide the emotional payoff to Viljar and, thus, Norway’s overarching journey of recovery and survival. It’s the second act where things start to drag and get a little muddled, especially as 22 July splits its focus between not only Viljar’s story thread, but also Lippestad and Breivik’s trial preparation, and the investigation into Stoltenberg’s administration and its failure to prevent a terrorist attack. While there’s nothing in the second act that feels inessential, 22 July struggles to divide its attention evenly between its three plotlines and the film’s pacing suffers for it.

On the whole, however, 22 July does a nice job covering a fair amount of narrative ground, even when taking its pretty substantial runtime into consideration. It helps that Greengrass (as he’s known now for doing, as a director) never fully lifts his foot off the gas pedal and keeps the film’s proceedings feeling on-edge throughout, even during its more purely dramatic portions. The filmmaker, working this time around with DP Pål Ulvik Rokseth (The Snowman) and Oscar-winning Argo editor William Goldenberg, uses essentially the same vérité cinematography and restless editing style that he has on his previous movies, in order to fully immerse viewers in the film’s setting and action. At the same time, Greengrass slows things down a bit here and, in turn, delivers a movie that’s more visually cohesive than some of his weaker efforts in the past (see the last Bourne sequel, in particular). This serves 22 July well, allowing it to effectively work as both a grounded drama and thriller.

Given the sheer amount of information that 22 July strives to cover, though, there’s not a lot of room for the film’s actors to really shine – not in the way that Barkhad Abdi and Tom Hanks did in Captain Phillips, for example. Even so, the 22 July cast is uniformly strong across the board, with Gravli especially doing an excellent job of portraying Viljar’s struggles with his physical injuries, PTSD, and the sheer amount of emotional baggage that he’s saddled with after barely managing to escape the attack on Utøya with his own life. Actors like Thorbjørn Harr and Isak Bakli Aglen are similarly moving in their smaller roles as members of Viljar’s family, as is Seda Witt as Lara Rashid, a young woman who starts to make a romantic connection with Viljar before both of their lives are shattered by Breivik’s attack. As for Breivik himself: Lie is quite compelling in the role and portrays the terrorist as a fully-developed person – one whose rationalization of his behavior makes him chilling and pathetic in equal measure.

As with his previous films, Greengrass uses 22 July as a means for delivering larger sociopolitical commentary about the state of things in the world, specifically where it concerns the rise of xenophobic and nationalist ideologies in various countries (the U.S. included). While his scripted dialogue can start to become a bit on the nose as its strives to get these points across (especially in the third act), Greengrass largely succeeds in allowing the story here to shine a light on these issues organically, without getting up on his figurative soapbox to drive the point home. If there’s a downside to the filmmaker’s approach, though, it’s that July 22 winds up handling its subject matter in a way that’s more engaging intellectually than emotionally and, thus, lacks the emotional resonance of Greengrass’ best work to date.

All things considered, however, Greengrass does a very good job of bringing the true story behind 22 July to cinematic life. The final result is a film that makes for an enlightening and otherwise respectful documentation of a horrifying real-world event, rather than one that comes off as exploitative or manipulative. 22 July is showing in select theaters now – in order to qualify for next year’s major film awards shows – and it certainly benefits from being seen on the big screen, but can still be appreciated just as much as a Netflix Original on your home TV. While it’s obviously not a light-hearted viewing experience, 22 July is very much worth checking out if you’ve enjoyed Greengrass’ previous non-Bourne efforts and/or would like to know more about Norway’s own infamous modern terrorist attack.


22 July is now available for streaming on Netflix and is playing in select U.S. theaters. It is 143 minutes long and is rated R for disturbing violence, graphic images, and language.

Let us know what you thought of the film in the comments section!

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2018-10-10 01:10:22 – Sandy Schaefer