by Hunter Bush
Howdy, all! Welcome to another installment of Everything Old is New Again, where I keep you abreast of movies (and in this instance also a few TV shows) coming down the Hollywood pipeline that are either remakes of, long-gap sequels to or adapted from some pre-existing intellectual property.
For those who don't know, the way this column works is: I watch all the available trailers and preview footage of stuff coming up in March & April, then I do a little research into its source material. Just enough to give me an idea of what I'm supposed to be seeing, but I primarily go by what the trailers show me. Trailers can be misleading, of course, but having grown up loving movies, I like to think I have a decent instinct for these things.
Every other month, Moviejawn lets me do this column (thank you!) and every single time I'm surprised by how many films there are to cover. Some look good, some aren't for me and some...I just don't know. Check 'em out below, see what you think:
CAPTAIN MARVEL - Based on the Marvel Comics character whose lineage goes back to 1967, this Captain Marvel is Carol Danvers (who first took the mantle in 2012, though she had already been a different hero before that...it's complicated cuz, y'know: comics). So there have been like almost a baker's dozen different Captains Marvel for the movie to draw inspiration from, but it looks like the flick is focusing on a streamlined version of Danvers' backstory: U.S. Air Force officer gets injured, is rehabilitated thanks to alien technology and discovers she has powers beyond those or normal humans. Y'see, the first Captain Marvel (who may or may not appear, be referenced or even exist in the film) was of a blue-skinned alien race called the Kree who are, to put it simply, "good guy" aliens. Noble warriors, yadda yadda yadda. They're involved in a forever war with the Skrulls who are green-skinned, shape-shifting "bad guy" aliens (There are exceptions on both sides of this rule, but I'm trying to broad-strokes it for you) and it appears as though, in the 1990's-set world of Captain Marvel, the Skrulls are already somewhat integrated into human society, undercover thanks to their shape-changing abilities. There's a lot of dialogue about Carol having recovered memories, but not knowing if they're real, and feeling that something in her past is "the key to all this". All what, I have no idea, but her origin here is presented as her being rescued by the Kree, patched up and set back on Earth to protect it and us from the threat posed by the Skrulls (presumably because she's human and therefore won't draw attention). But that dialogue makes me think maybe they wiped & reformatted her memory? I think there's a chance this could be a kind of Invasion of the Body-Snatchers take on the superhero movie genre and that's very exciting! Plus, Carol (Brie Larson) gets to pal around with a young Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson)!
JUANITA - Coming to Netflix, this unappreciated-woman-goes-on-a-journey-to-find-herself flick is based on the novel Dancing on the Edge of the Roof by Sheila Williams and stars Alfre Woodard as the titular Juanita. Deciding she needs Something New in her life, Juanita sets out on a trip to the randomly-chosen destination of Butte, Montana and from what I can see ends up helping a diner cook (Adam Beach) bring in business by cooking food people actually want to eat. There's a really nice line of dialogue in the trailer when, after Juanita & the cook have presumably hit it off romantically, she tells him "I like you but I took this journey to be by myself and this isn't my last stop". I really liked that tone and I mean, I'll watch Alfre Woodard in anything. Plus! Blair Underwood plays himself in some of Juanita's ...saucier daydreams. Fun!
AN ELEPHANT SITTING STILL - Whew. I knew this wasn't going to be a "fun" entry, but I wasn't expecting how deeply sad this film looks. To put this right out on front street, Bo Hu, the writer / director who was adapting one of his own short stories, committed suicide shortly after finishing production on the film. An Elephant Sitting Still looks, appropriately then, bleak and downcast. The phrase "The world is a wasteland" appears onscreen just before one of the characters throws a lit match up onto the ceiling where is sticks until it burns out. This might be a bit of poetic imagery or indicative of some sort of magical realism within the world of the film itself. The plot seems to be set over a single day and follow four characters as their lives intersect. The title comes from a rumored elephant in a nearby town called Manzhouli who is just sitting there. "Maybe he just likes it there" says someone as the trailer winds down. For the characters presented in the trailer, who seem to be miserable where they are, the concept that the elephant likes it where he is might be almost akin to magical thinking. Definitely not a light evening at the movies, but this might be a powerful thing to experience.
NANCY DREW AND THE HIDDEN STAIRCASE - Let's pick the mood back up a bit with this! The character of Nancy Drew was created in 1930 by publisher Edward Stratemeyer as a female-friendly companion series to the Hardy Boys mysteries which he also published and she has appeared consistently ever since across hundreds of stories and sundry different formats. This movie, starring Sophia Lillis as the tenacious sleuth is based on the 1930 book of the same name, the second Nancy Drew book ever published! In the trailer, a mysterious and creepy house known as Twin Elms has for some reason "gone viral" which will bring a little excitement to Nancy's otherwise mundane hometown. Twin Elms has a legend associated with it as well as various ooky-spooky phenomena and it seems like Nancy & Co. will get to investigate and maybe put on a seance? Skateboarding antics, secret tunnels and a mysterious black Mercedes abound throughout the trailer which seems genuinely fun. Weird fact: This is directed by Katt Shea, director of 1992 Drew Barrymore erotic thriller Poison Ivy. Besides that fact, my favorite thing about this Nancy Drew is that Lilles seems to be playing Drew as ...kind of a ball-buster. Example: after being handed a vial of something and told not to drop it, Nancy pretends to almost drop it a few times. She's spunky. I like that. What I didn't enjoy (and this is a very minor quibble) was the background music which reminded me of DVD menus from 90's kids movies. I’m not exactly dying to catch this one, but it’s not entirely out of the question.
FIVE FEET APART - Based on an apparent bestseller published last November, this Nicholas Sparks-alike teenage tearjerker stars Haley Lu Richardson and Cole Sprouse as two kids with Cystic Fibrosis, a condition which means, among other things, that they can't get closer than six feet or they run the risk of catching each other's infections. But (and here's the rub) they've fallen in love! Ugh. Big sigh from me. I love Love and Love Stories and rom-coms and "chick flicks" but this most recent terminally-ill tween subgenre bores me into rigor mortis. It's just the 2000's-era version of those Deadman's Curve doo-wop songs of the 50's & 60's except them bastards had the decency to be under five minutes long. Plus: don't make me watch Jughead die. Don't even threaten!
OUT OF BLUE - Based on the apparently "comedic parody of detective stories" 1997 book Night Train by Martin Amis, this one looks...weird. Detective Mike Hoolihan (Patricia Clarkson) is investigating the apparent suicide of astrophysicist Jennifer Rockwell. The trailer is relatively fast-paced with appearances by Jacki Weaver (!) and Toby Jones among others. There's also a lot of talk about "big idea" space concepts (someone paraphrases Carl Sagan's "We're all made of star stuff" quote at one point) plus imagery to match and there's a confusing shot where someone vanishes from a diner booth seemingly mid-conversation. It gave the whole thing a very 90's vibe. Like someone saw a David Lynch movie and was like, I'll make that, but (presumably, according to the description) sillier? I doubt we'll get a second trailer, which would probably have helped me make up my mind on it, so I could go either way on this.
CRITTERS: A NEW BINGE - Based on the four-film franchise (1986 - 1992), Shudder is bringing the Critters back in series form! Having never seen a Critters film before, everything I know about them is showcased in the trailer: they're tiny, hairy, round creatures from space that are smarter than they look (they fly spaceships!) and they just love to eat! To paraphrase Frank Booth: They'll eat anything that moves! They may also eat non-moving objects or possibly devour all matter, as I said I'm not that familiar with them. The Critters movie series has always been described as a horror-comedy, but young me (having been terrified of Stephen King's The Langoliers) couldn't jibe with the idea of laughing at tiny, hungry monsters that were mostly mouths full of sharp, pointy teeth. There's a weird...shape-changing or hologram gag in the trailer and I know there were bounty hunters in some of the Critters flicks (maybe all of them) so, possibly this is some kinda disguise? Anyway, as far as "horror-comedy" goes, there wasn't much to support the latter half shown, unless the idea of a reporter saying the phrase "hairy balls" on the air really tickles you. Horror-wise, there's a lot of partially-eaten bodies shown (fair warning: some are animals; this seems to take place around a vet or animal control station?) so I guess after a 27-year hiatus, the Critters are pretty hungry. I get a real Troma Films vibe from this, which isn't everybody's thing, and truth be told half the time isn't my thing, but I'd be willing to give this a shot. But will it ruin my appetite or leave me hungry for more? I guess it's just a matter of taste. (I've had a lot of coffee).
THE LAST DRIVE-IN WITH JOE BOB BRIGGS - Hallelujah & Hail Satan! Joe Bob Briggs is finally returning to the weekly series format, educating and entertaining at the edges of commercial breaks of B-movie drive-in fare, as he has in one for or another since 1996. Seeing as this new weekly iteration of The Last Drive-In will be on Shudder, the commercial breaks have been replaced with "Joe Bob breaks", allowing Briggs and co-host Darcy the Mail Girl to pop in with fun facts, trivia, interviews and anecdotes from his lifetime of loving movies. I was lucky enough to see JBB put on a presentation (How Rednecks Saved Hollywood) this time last year and it was just the best. He truly loves these movies and that af-fection turns to in-fection because you'll end up loving them too! No titles have been announced yet but apparently each week will be a double feature and I can't wait!
WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS - Based on the absolutely hilarious 2014 Taika Waititi comedy that takes a look at the everyday life of vampires, this TV series coming to FX has an entirely new cast of both actors and characters while maintaining the mockumentary camerawork and bizarre tone of the original. Everyone in the trailer looks funny (even the checkout clerk chiding one of the vampires for hitting him with "ancient coins") but I'm most excited about Matt Berry as a pompous vampire and Mark Proksch as an "energy vampire" (basically That Guy at your job that is infuriating and boring in equal measure) a concept not seen in the original. I loved the movie and I really hope this is as true to the spirit of that as it appears. Plus it'll help ease the ache for October to get here.
DUMBO - Based on the 1941 Disney animated film (itself based on a story written by Helen Aberson & Harold Pearl and illustrated by Helen Durney) this live-action Dumbo comes to us from Tim Burton. Dumbo is the story of the titular baby circus elephant who can, magically, fly. When a big-top big-shot (Michael Keaton) buys Dumbo's mom to add to his own menagerie, Dumbo (aided in this version by Nico Parker and Finley Hobbins as the Farrier children) goes to rescue her. Personally, I'm against the live-action-ing of Disney's animated back catalog, but at the same time, I enjoy mostly everyone involved in this. Besides Keaton (who can't be beaten), and Burton (whose recent output is only so-so for me), the cast features Danny DeVito, Eva Green, Alan Arkin & Colin Farrell (as the Farrier kids' one-armed father). I'm torn on this one for a lot of reasons, but I'll definitely see it in theaters because the original Dumbo is one of my mom's favorites, so if she wants to see it, we're seeing it. Love you, mom.
THE HIGHWAYMEN - Based on the 1934 "untold true story" of the Texas rangers who eventually took down spree killer couple of the era, Bonnie & Clyde, this is another one being brought to us by Netflix. Kevin Costner plays Frank Hamer (who has a lengthy Wikipedia article devoted to him) and Woody Harrelson plays Maney Gault (who doesn't), though in the trailer they're presented as reluctant partners? Shouldn't Gault then have an article of his own? Anyhoo, there's some really nice cinematography in the trailer and I'm honestly a sucker for this kind of true crime biopic, plus the cast is rounded out by Kathy Bates and John Carroll Lynch! It seems like the movie will showcase how obsessed with Bonnie & Clyde people became (there's a shot of a water tower with a pro B & C slogan painted on it and at one point, someone pulls a knife on Gault because he's out to bust the couple) which I think is a really interesting tack to choose.
THE TWILIGHT ZONE - In 1959 to 1964 Rod Serling brought us the original Twilight Zone anthology series which covered horror, sci-fi, and weird fiction with an eye toward social satire and commentary. Now, Jordan Peele has picked up the torch, assumed Serling's dual producer/host role and is bringing us a new take. If you need more convincing, I dunno if I can help you, but here goes: Peele's Zone seems to be bringing updated versions of classic episodes like Nightmare at 20,000 Feet (the one where William Shatner sees a Gremlin on the wing of the plane), It's a Good Life (the kid that can make anything happen just by thinking it) and Nick of Time (a spooky fortune telling machine) or else, possibly just referencing them? Either could be true and I could see either working. I get serious It's a Good Life vibes from the footage of a kid riding his tricycle through the halls of what I believe is the White House like he's Danny Torrance in The Shining. Plus the cast here is amazing to boot! I spied with my little eyes Adam Scott, Steven Yeun, Sanaa Lathan, John Cho, Allison Tolman, Kumail Nanjiani, & Greg Kinnear! That's incredible. I couldn't be more excited for this series. Now onto the matter at hand: Who wants to hook your dude up with that CBS All Access login? Slide into my DMs.
ULTRAMAN - This 3D animated series coming to Netflix continues the truly epic tradition of the "Ultra Series" as it's called which was begun in 1966 and has so many characters and iterations it's almost absurd! The Ultraman basics are: Earth is under attack from huge, dangerous alien monsters and when all else fails, one man has the ability to turn into Ultraman, who is actually an alien himself. This Netflix series sees a young man attacked by an alien creature for being Ultraman only, he isn't. But his dad is! Now Ultraman Jr. (as I'm calling him) has to learn how to harness his abilities and become Ultraman! This looks fun but I have a hard time getting into the weird CG animated look of it (which is the same style as Netflix's recent trilogy of Godzilla films) but besides that, if this seems like your thing, get at it.
SHAZAM! - It's weird that a Shazam movie is coming out in the same year as a Captain Marvel movie because there's a whole long legal tug-of-war over the character and name. The basics of which were that the Shazam character was originally named Captain Marvel ("Shazam!" was just the magic word that made him transform) and he belonged to a company called Fawcett which DC sued saying the character was too similar to Superman. DC won and the character eventually became theirs, but along the way Marvel created a character named Captain Marvel and a whole legal thing came from that, the result of which is: this year the MCU is putting out a film called Captain Marvel, while the DCU puts out one called Shazam!. Just a little nerd-knowledge for ya. Anyway, Shazam! looks really, well and truly fun. Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is a high school kid chosen by a wizard to wield great magical power: whenever he says the magic word he transforms into the full-grown superhero, Shazam (Zachary Levi)! A lot of the trailer is Billy (as Shazam) palling around with his fellow foster-kid buddy Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer) and it's just so...charming. They stop a convenience store robbery by tossing the two thugs through the front window and while walking away, Shazam yells "Sorry about your window, but you're welcome for not getting robbed!" I legitimately laughed. This looks like a good time, but I really don't have much idea of the larger plot. Mark Strong is credited as Dr. Sivana, one of Shazam's greatest nemeses, but he isn't present much in the advertising so what exactly his goals are remains to be seen.
PET SEMATARY - Based on Stephen King's 1983 horror novel and the subsequent film adaptation from 1989, Pet Sematary is the story of the Creed family who've only recently relocated to a town in Maine. After their cat Church is run down on the road, the Creed children bury it in the local pet burial ground (marked with a misspelled hand painted sign) in the woods behind their house. When an even more horrible tragedy befalls the Creeds, dad Louis (Jason Clarke) makes use of the burial ground as well, against the guidance of sagely neighbor Jud (John Lithgow!). Because, as Jud warns, when things come back, they come back wrong and sometimes, dead is better. Can you tell I'm excited? Cuz I am! I love the novel, I love Mary Lambert's film and I'm 100% on board for this. From the first trailer, it was obvious that 2019's Pet Sematary would be operating a little differently (there's footage of the local kids wearing Wicker Man Jr. -type animal head masks in a funeral procession which I believe is a new detail?) (it's been forever since I've read the book) but people still got up in arms online about changes revealed in the most recent trailer. Personally, I don't think these “changes” (which I will not be detailing) diminish anything about the story but I will say I wish I'd gotten to be surprised by them in the theater. Also I wish Lithgow were doing a full Fred Gwynne accent, but what can you do?
HELLBOY - Originally a comic book created by Mike Mignola in 1993, Hellboy is the story of, well, Hellboy, a demon summoned during WWII to help the Nazis bring about the end of the world. Only problem is, he was just a wee little baby demon, albeit one with a giant stone hand called the Right Hand of Doom. Rescued by allied forces and raised right, he eventually becomes the backbone of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense, a secret organization that protects the mortal world from supernatural forces. This most recent iteration sees David Harbor donning the red prosthesis to play Hellboy with Ian McShane as his surrogate father Professor Bruttenholm, Daniel Dae Kim as BPRD agent Ben Daimio and Mila Jovovich as some sorta Blood Queen. We've been hearing, from Harbour & director Neil Marshall, that this would be an R-rated, bloodier, scarier take on the character (than Guillermo del Toro's 2004 & 2008 efforts starring Ron Perlman) and... I dunno. The first trailer was heavy on the humor and light on the fright, the second one just has a LOT of blood in it (also some cool monster designs including a big bat beast in a wrestling ring, so that's basically made specifically for me) but doesn't look scarier. It looks like a knock-off of GDT's movies that somebody entered the Mortal Kombat Blood Cheat Code for. Maybe it's just me? I really enjoy most of the talent assembled here (as well as boar-monsters, bat-monsters & Baba Yaga; all present in the trailers) but I *LOVED* del Toro's films, so that's a pretty big Right Hand of Doom to fill. Plus they use a truly god-awful, bombastic, over-orchestrated version of “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple in the 2nd trailer that's an affront to ears everywhere. Just play the Deep Purp' version!
THE CURSE OF LA LLORONA - This is one of those entries I put on here because I think it's really interesting. La Llorona (which means The Weeping Woman) is a bit of Latin American folklore about the spirit of a woman who was wronged by her lover and drowned their children in a fit of rage. After her death, she wanders the afterlife looking for her missing children, sometimes singing to them (usually near water) and bringing bad luck to those who hear her, especially if they have children. The Curse of La LLorona (from Mikki Daughtry & Tobias Iaconis, who wrote Five Feet Apart oddly enough) seems to be taking a more The Conjuring route (which makes sense as James Wan is producing) of having a woman (Linda Cardellini) and her two daughters haunted by La Llorona and in need of specialized help in the form of an exorcist played by Raymond Cruz. Most interestingly (to me) is the presence of Tony Amendola playing Father Perez, the same character he played in 2014's Annabelle, which would mean this ties to that, making La Llorona connected to The Conjuring-verse. Interesting... Especially because I've found no real mention of that fact...
OKKO'S INN - This animated feature length version of the animated series based on the Waka Okami wa Shōgakusei! (which translates to The Young Innkeeper is Grade Schooler!... I think?) book series written by Hiroko Reijo & illustrated by Asami. Okko's Inn follows a young girl and her two...I'm not sure. Imaginary friends? Ghosts? Both? as she comes to terms with the deaths of her parents while helping her grandmother run a spa. This looks...just ok. The ghost friends seems like a fun angle but there's dialogue here that makes me think part of the story is Okko growing up and no longer being able to see them, which (combined with a shot of little doll versions of them) makes me think they're maybe only imaginary all along. Either way, losing your ghost friends seems like a bummer (as long as they're fun, cool, goof-around ghosts and not La Llorona).
MAPPLETHORPE - Based on the life of photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, this biopic from Ondi Timoner stars Matt Smith as the controversial artist. In typical biopic fashion, we seem to follow Mapplethorpe from his early years paling around with Patti Smith (Marianne Rendón) through his rise into public awareness, which would start national discussion about what constitutes art (vs. pornography) and publicly funding that type of erotically confrontational art. For his part, Smith looks to really be in the zone playing Mapplethorpe and this could be a breakout performance for the former Dr. Who. Fun fact: Smith will be playing Charles Manson in a biopic scheduled to be released later this year, so keep your eyes on future EOINA installments for that.
AVENGERS: ENDGAME - Well, this is it folks, the finale to the MCU as we know it. Sure, there'll be some franchises continuing on after this, and some new ones coming out of it, but THIS is what Marvel has been building to for 10 years. So, based on that, we have Avengers: Endgame (which is Avengers Infinity War Part 2). When we last left our heroes, Thanos (Josh Brolin) snapped the fingers of his inconceivably powerful gauntlet and erased half of the living beings in existence, including many of our heroes, in the name of balance. The trailers show footage of a world that has moved on in the wake of The Snap: support groups dealing with the loss, a New York harbor full of unmanned boats and the handful of remaining Avengers looking pretty crestfallen. But they have a plan. "It's gonna work," Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) says. "I know it will," replies Captain America (Chris Evans) "because I have no idea what to do if it doesn't". Pretty grim stuff. On top of that, Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) is adrift in space with "no hope of rescue" and he's about out of oxygen. So that's no fun. But, at the end of one trailer, Ant Man (Paul Rudd) shows up, which actually is fun. So what can we deduce from this? Well, at the end of the last Ant-Man movie, he was left trapped in the Microverse (once you've shrank down to a subatomic level, the particles surrounding you are as large as planets in space are for us, so it's basically a whole new universe) so how did he get free? And since time functions differently when you're that small, how long was he really stuck in there? Also, with Disney / Marvel having recently acquired Fox, almost all of the Marvel Comics character licenses are under one roof again, so it's possible that on his way out, Ant-Man may have found a parallel dimension where, say The X-Men or Fantastic Four exist. Also, Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) definitely had some tricks up his sleeves (like any good magician) before getting disintegrated. The movie *is* named after a line of dialogue he had in Infinity War after all, so these supposedly lost souls may not be quite as lost as we think. I'm guessing...time travel, considering Strange's intimate knowledge of the Time Stone. Personally, Marvel firing director James Gunn from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 has left a bad taste in my mouth regarding their future output, but I'll still see this one because I've been watching these characters for a decade and I really want to see how this chapter comes to a close.
Ugh. All that speculating makes my head feel like pudding. Thankfully, that's the end of the list. For now...I'm personally most excited for Captain Marvel, What We Do In the Shadows and The Twilight Zone. (Speaking of which: I'm serious about that CBS All Access login: Get. At. Your. Dude.) I'm also intellectually interested in An Elephant Sitting Still, but I'm gonna have to be in a very specific emotional mood for that one I think.
So, how about you all? Anything on here you're gonna make time in your busy lives to see? Or on the flip side, any you wouldn't touch with a ten foot clown pole? Let me know. Drop a comment below and let's talk movies! Long Live The Movies and thank you, as always, for reading! See ya next time.