The Big Push: Sony Bumps Its Summer Releases Into 2021

Well, COVID-19 has caused another studio to push a lot of properties into 2021. To my knowledge, F9: The Fast Saga, the latest in the Fast & Furious franchise, is the only film that was pushed into 2021. Now, Sony has added several more films to that list.

Sony Pictures has adjusted the release dates for Morbius, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Uncharted, and Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway into early 2021. The Kevin Hart film Fatherhood was moved from 2021 into October of this year in all the shuffle, and Greyhound, the Tom Hanks-scripted and starring film, was removed from its June date.

The only significant Sony film that didn’t adjust is Venom 2, the upcoming sequel to the very-successful Venom film from 2018. Let’s break this down…

Morbius, starring Jared Leto, was set to be the second film in Sony’s Spider-Man Character Universe. It was set to follow the first Venom film and it had a lot of questions surrounding it. The trailer featured posters of Spider-Man as well as a moment with Michael Keaton potentially playing Vulture again, which would be mind-blowing because many believed that Disney would not allow Sony to do that with the current deal in place. Many wondered if Morbius was firmly plant itself as MCU-adjacent, and the question therefore came to, “Will it connect to Venom as well?” Now that Morbius will come out after Venom 2, that seems to tell us that the films won’t crossover. If they did, Morbius would likely have taken Venom 2‘s spot and Venom 2 would have likely moved to 2021.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife is something I’ve been very excited for, but this film has a lot to accomplish. I was really excited to see how this film would pick up the franchise and get it going again, but the biggest hurdle of this sequel isn’t Ghostbusters II. It’s 2016’s Ghostbusters: Answer the Call. I know, they aren’t related, but not everyone will connect that. What people will connect is how they didn’t like that film. Ghostbusters: Answer the Call was very mixed in its reactions. I really enjoyed the 2016 film myself, but I know there were a lot of people that didn’t love the film, and now we have this upcoming sequel to Ghostbusters II that has a new, potentially concerning release date. Release dates are an economic science, and choosing a date can make or break your release.

Uncharted, like The New Mutants, seems cursed. This movie just cannot catch a break. This most recent push just signals that the film may never happen.

As far as Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway goes, I couldn’t care less. The first wasn’t great but not horrible, but I don’t need to see another one.

So there you have it. A lot of changes, and a lot more waiting. You may be asking “Why? Why bump these movies so early?” It’s all for marketing. If you cannot guarantee the release date, you can’t spend millions marketing a movie.

So what do you think? Which of these adjustments hits you the hardest or do you not care about any of them? Let me know/Drop a comment down below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

[31 Days of Horror Part VI: Jason Lives] Day 10 – Zombieland (2009)

Director: Ruben Fleischer

Cast: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin

Screenplay: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick

88 mins. Rated R.

 

It’s been a bit since I’ve watched Zombieland. I was utterly addicted to it back in 2009, but it’s been a long time. It’s been ten years since it released, so it is time to officially talk about the film that was envisioned as a TV show, then reworked into a film that was adapted into an Amazon pilot before eventually getting a sequel. Did you follow all that?

It’s been some time since the world ended, and zombies have overtaken the landscape. Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network, The Art of Self-Defense) and Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson, The Highwaymen, TV’s True Detective) have formed a shaky truce and teamed up to pursue their goals, and along the way, they befriend two young women who go by Wichita (Emma Stone, La La Land, The Croods) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin, Little Miss Sunshine, Freak Show). Together, four of the last humans in America make an effort to get to Pacific Playland, a famous theme park that Little Rock has always wanted to see. It’s just another day in Zombieland.

Zombieland fires on all cylinders. Every element of this film works exactly as is intended. The cast is absolutely incredible. There’s a reason all four leads have been nominated for Academy Awards (Stone going as far as to win as well). Woody Harrelson finds that perfect balance of dickery and sweetness. Jesse Eisenberg could very easily become boring, but he tows the line just right. Emma Stone displays a subtlety in her distrust of the others and her love for Little Rock with such ease. Even Abigail Breslin, who has to shoulder the responsibility of being a kid growing up in a zombie wasteland. The secondary cast is terrific in what they need to accomplish.

The screenplay is smartly-written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (Deadpool, G.I. Joe: Retaliation) and features solid world-building, very funny dialogue, and an elegant mix of horror in suspense in all the right doses. Their collaboration with Ruben Fleischer (Venom, Gangster Squad) creates a unique, authentic, and fun reinvention of the living dead mythos.

If there’s a flaw to Zombieland, it’s maybe that the film hasn’t aged perfectly, and it’s the realization that we should’ve gotten a sequel sooner. This is a tightly-constructed narrative, coming in under 90 minutes but bursting with flavor. If you missed Zombieland back in 2009, I highly recommend you give it a go, and if it’s been some time since you last watched, go back and revisit it. It’s a remarkable little horror/comedy.

 

5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

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Sony Searches for a Venom 2 Director

Hey, I’ll throw my hat in the mix too, why not?

Sony is meeting with several possible directors for Venom 2. Variety is reporting that Andy Serkis, Travis Knight, and Rupert Wyatt are all in talks for the upcoming sequel, which will see Tom Hardy returning as the vigilante anti-hero. Currently, there is no front-runner, but Sony will want to move fast as they hope to begin shooting this fall.

The director of the original Venom, Ruben Fleischer, will not be able to return as he is deep into post-production of the zombie sequel Zombieland: Double Tap (he also directed the original).

Venom 2 is a big-ticket win for Sony, which has struggled in the past to find viable franchises, and Venom, although not a winner with critics, certainly appealed to fans as it grossed over $800 million at the worldwide box office. Assumptions are that the film is aiming for an October 2020 release.

I’ll be the guy that says it. I still haven’t seen Venom yet, but given the box office, this is a good move for Sony, who, as I said, needs more franchises than just Spider-Man, even if they are trying to  merge the two.

Looking at these filmmakers, I would say the best bet would be on Rupert Wyatt. As of yet, I haven’t caught Andy Serkis’s Mowgli, and as far as serious dark films, I’m not sure Travis Knight is the best pic, having only helmed Laika films and last year’s Bumblebee, a noticeably poppy and bright film. Wyatt, however, brought the Planet of the Apes franchise back to life, a very difficult task to complete.

So what do you think? Who should helm Venom 2? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

[Early Review] Late Night (2019)

Director: Nisha Ganatra

Cast: Emma Thompson, Mindy Kaling, John Lithgow, Max Casella, Hugh Dancy, Denis O’Hare, Reid Scott, Amy Ryan

Screenplay: Mindy Kaling

102 mins. Rated R for language throughout and some sexual references.

 

Late Night had a lot of strong buzz coming out of Sundance earlier this year, most of it focused around Emma Thompson (Sense and Sensibility, Missing Link) and the screenplay from co-star Mindy Kaling (A Wrinkle in Time, TV’s The Office). I was able to catch the film last night at an early screening, and the buzz is absolutely correct.

Katherine Newbury (Thompson) has been the host of a late night talk-show for decades, but she comes to realize under the ownership of new network president Caroline Morton (Amy Ryan, Birdman, Beautiful Boy) that she has lost her passion, and she learns that she is soon to be replaced. Challenged by this fact, she hires a woman, Molly Patel (Kaling) to her writing staff with no writing experience. Molly’s equally challenged by the entirely male-dominated writing staff. She buts heads with Monologue Writer Tom (Reid Scott, Venom, TV’s Veep) and starts up a fling with the handsome Charlie (Hugh Dancy, Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return, TV’s Hannibal). But Molly quickly learns that she is in the lion’s den, and the leader is Katherine, a host who has never brought her personality, beliefs, or background, into the show, and the two women slowly find that they can learn a lot from each other, if they can survive each other.

This is Thompson’s movie, hands down, and it’s one of her most surprising and charismatic performances in a long and varied career. Her take on Newbury is interesting and nuanced. She says early in the film that she only ever really cared about two things: the first being her husband Walter (John Lithgow, Pet Sematary, TV’s 3rd Rock from the Sun) and the other being her show. It’s sad to hear her say it because of how she is frequently on the edge of losing both, Walter to his illness and the show to a younger, dumber host. At the same time, she fails to understand that she is self-sabotaging herself. It is only in her struggle to find an understanding of Molly’s feedback that she is able to grow, if she decides to listen to it.

Molly’s an interesting character. For the most part, her character’s inclusion in the film is a bit of a conceit, and not very realistic, but I was able to push past it for the needs of the narrative. Her character and Kaling’s performance shine in the ways that Molly is so much like Newbury. She knows not to hook up with the handsome writer she now works with, and she states that this is her dream job, and then she too self-sabotages.

The writer’s room cast of characters are all quite funny here. It’s great to see Paul Walter Hauser show up; he’s an absolute delight in everything. I think we get a nice crew of writer/showbiz archetypes that never feel flat because of the diverse collection of performers placed in the roles. Kaling’s screenplay gives most of them something to do without resorting to grouping them all together.

Director Nisha Ganatra (Chutney Popcorn, Pete’s Christmas) capably handles the film, and while her style here is nothing flashy, it is her focus on the characters and relationships that keep the whole thing afloat and moving, and the film just flies by thanks to some strong editing and tight storytelling.

Late Night showcases another powerhouse acting performance for Emma Thompson, one I expect that will be talked about in the next few months as we tick closer to the awards season. Kaling’s screenplay doesn’t provide as many laughs as I had expected, but there’s so much heart to it, and some of the funnier bits come out of the real situations she places her characters. It’s a sweet and occasionally funny trip to a part of our entertainment process not so often looked at. This comes highly recommended.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

Director: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman

Cast: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Lily Tomlin, Luna Lauren Velez, Kimiko Glenn, John Mulaney, Nicolas Cage, Liev Schreiber

Screenplay: Phil Lord, Rodney Rothman

117 mins. Rated PG for frenetic sequences of animated action violence, thematic elements, and mild language.

IMDb Top 250: #26 (as of 1/13/2019)

 

I was pretty certain that the Sony Animation Spider-Man movie would disappear into obscurity. Sony, as a company, has been throwing everything at the Spider-Man IP and hoping something would stick. After making a deal to get Spider-Man into the MCU, they proceeded to make a Venom movie not featuring Spider-Man, talks of a Kraven the Hunter film and a Silver and Black film, and then there’s Into the Spider-Verse. None of these properties excited me on the outset, but I was at the very least quite thankful to see Miles Morales finally get the big screen treatment.

Miles Morales (Shameik Moore, Dope, The Pretenders) is a teen struggling with his identity. He attends a boarding school that he doesn’t feel at home in. He looks up to Spider-Man but his father, Jefferson Davis (Brian Tyree Henry, Hotel Artemis, TV’s Atlanta) sees the masked crusader as a menace. All Miles wants is to have purpose, and when he is bitten by a radioactive spider and develops powers similar to Spider-Man’s, he finds that this may be his chance. Matters are complicated, though, when he runs into Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson, Tag, TV’s New Girl), a Spider-Man not from his universe. That’s not all. Spider-People from all different universes are converging on Miles’s world, and they must work together to fix the problem and get them all home while they still can.

Into the Spider-Verse is an assault on the senses, and I mean that in the best possible way. My eyes actually needed to adjust to the intense color display and terrific voicework displayed in the film. This film actually forced a new animation amalgam to be attempted in order to give it that “jumps off the comic book page” look that makes the film so damn pretty. The process involved rendering the 3D images and then working over them with 2D drawing to give it a comic book panel look. It’s gorgeous and altogether the most impressive feat of the film.

Beyond all that, Into the Spider-Verse has such an impressive and relatable story. Miles is a kid who doesn’t fit in. He even becomes Spider-Man but he doesn’t believe that he is worthy of the mantle. Peter B. Parker is a man who has lost the woman he loves because he was incapable of being the man he needs to be. Even Wilson Fisk (Liev Schreiber, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, TV’s Ray Donovan), the Kingpin, has an understandable motive for his menacing plot. During all this, I didn’t feel the stakes of the film very much, and that’s a fault, but it was so fun to watch that it didn’t bother me like it should’ve.

Into the Spider-Verse subverts expectations so well. There are genuinely surprising moments, twists, and turns in the film, something not easy to do with a character/franchise that is seven films over the past twenty years. The Stan Lee cameo in the film just has so much more packed within it, especially given our tremendous loss this past year. The film even sends up the post-credits scene with theirs, and I won’t spoil it, but it’s my favorite moment in the film.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a strange movie, and it’s also totally brilliant. It exists perfectly on its own, even though some would argue that it is a sequel to the Sam Raimi-directed Spider-Man films (and I agree). It’s to Spider-Man what Cabin in the Woods is to horror films, in that it validates everything without being beholden to any of it. But beyond all that, it’s an amazing story of finding oneself among the craziness of life. It’s a special damn movie. Go see it.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

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