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Between the Streams: 'Stranger Things 2,' Avengers feud, Gene Wilder tribute

Between the Streams: ‘Stranger Things 2,’ ‘Westworld’s’ AI, Gene Wilder tribute

DT’s weekly entertainment show, Between the Streams, is your guide to all of the hottest, most important, and (of course) dumbest new developments in streaming and entertainment, providing a handy recap of the week that was. Follow us here every Friday or add us via RSS, iTunes, or Stitcher at the links above to take BtS on the road!

It’s the end of summer, and in case you couldn’t tell from the weather, this week’s dreary box office offerings are a stark reminder. To borrow a Chandler Bingism, could this week’s new slate of movies be any worse? Technically yes, but it is unfortunate that summer has to end with such a box office whimper, pulling out a flock of poorly reviewed, milquetoast films. But we’ll get to that in a moment.

There is plenty of good stuff to talk about this week, including (finally) official confirmation about the much anticipated return of Stranger Things, i.e. Stranger Things season 2. Not only has the ‘Flix guaranteed your favorite homage addiction is coming back in 2017, but the Duffer brothers also dropped some news this week about who will be joining Will, Mike, and the rest of the Stranger Things gang. While we still don’t know the true fate of (spoiler alert) Eleven, the monster, or Dr. Martin Brenner, we do know a bit about some new Stranger Things characters — three to be exact. They include Max, a tough young tomboy who rides a skateboard; Billy, her muscular and “hyper-confident” older brother who drives a Camaro (how ’80s of him); and Roman, a mysterious 30-something character with a tragic past who’s looking for revenge. 

The latest from the Upside Down is just a fraction of this week’s topics. We’ll also be talking about HBO’s bid for the next hotness to keep you satiated in between Game of Thrones seasons, Westworld. The new series is a serialized version of Michael Crichton’s iconic movie from the ’70s about a theme park filled with walking, talking Wild West caricatures that goes terribly wrong. After getting only fading glimpses of the show, a new trailer (and some more disturbing imagery) have begun to paint a broader picture of what this series is all about. And a big part of the story will apparently be Dolores (played by the enigmatic Evan Rachel Wood), who appears to be our window into the consciousness of the AI beings who inhabit the Westworld play land. Dolores thinks she’s a real human, but she also has the sneaking suspicion that something is horribly wrong. And she’s not the only one.

Now that we’re starting to understand how the creators will expand Crichton’s brilliant setup, it’s starting to look more and more intriguing. A killer cast, headlined by Ed Harris and Anthony Hopkins, among many others, doesn’t hurt either.

Speaking of AI, it appears the coolest thing about this weekend’s slate of new movies is one of the trailers. How can that be? Because this particular trailer for the AI horror/thriller Morgan was itself created by artificial intelligence (of a sort) in the form of IBM’s Watson supercomputer. Using algorithmic data about the most action-packed scenes, Watson compiled a narrative that is starkly intelligible and well crafted. Perhaps the craziest thing about the trailer is that it’s arguably better than the one the movie’s human creators made.

As for the film itself, Luke Scott’s directorial debut is essentially DOA.  The son of the great Ridley Scott is getting plenty of (somewhat-undeserved) flack for retreading well-worn territory from his father’s iconic sci-fi masterpiece, Blade Runner. However, while Morgan does explore similar themes to Blade Runner, so do dozens of other films. No, the real problem with Morgan appears to be a paint-by-numbers script that opts for action over intellect. That’s fine with us — we like action — but Morgan’s 46 percent Rotten Tomatoes score gives plenty of caution, as do the scores of the paltry list of other films debuting this week. The best new film on the radar is Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander’s romance film The Light Between Oceans, which was adapted from the hit novel, but that one still gets a C+ average at best.

Our recommendation? Go see Kubo and the Two Strings. The most impressive film yet from the stop-motion wizards at Laika, Kubo hasn’t gotten the love it deserves, and it just might be the best movie still in theaters. Those who are still looking for some summertime escapism won’t be disappointed.

Or, if you’re lucky enough to be in one of the 55 cities in which they’re playing, you can also go see two classic films from an old friend and true legend who recently passed on. We’re talking, of course, about the great Gene Wilder. We’ll be talking about the singularly talented comedian/actor, and how his indelible movies impacted our lives growing up, even decades after their release. As part of the tribute, AMC theaters is putting two of Wilder’s best-loved films, Willy Wonka and Blazing Saddles, back in theaters for one weekend only. You can find the full list of participating theaters here.

We’ll also be talking about some new Star Wars news, including some hints about Rogue One’s villains, as well as Luke Skywalker’s potential tenure in the new trilogies. And of course, we have to discuss the latest from Netflix (it’s in our bylaws), which will premiere Christopher Guest’s new mockumentary, Mascots, as well as the return of Narcos in the bloody show’s second season.

You’ll learn about all that and more on today’s Between the Streams, so tune in live at 2 p.m. ET, or take our podcast with you via the links above!

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Ryan Waniata
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Ryan Waniata is a multi-year veteran of the digital media industry, a lover of all things tech, audio, and TV, and a…
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