Well, we’ve stumbled into the bizarro-world timeline, folks, but there’s not much to be done about it now. As usual, our solace comes from trips to the other alternate dimensions found in TV shows and movies, which provide not only the sweet numbness of escapism we all crave, but also some fleeting moments of reverie about our place in the stars, and occasionally humanity itself. The latter is the promise of our first topic on today’s show: Arrival, the cerebral new sci-fi thriller opening this weekend from Sicario director Denis Villaneuve. We’ve been excited about Arrival since the very first trailer, and it appears our optimism was far from unwarranted.
The latest from Villaneuve, which stars Amy Adams as a translator, isn’t just getting rave reviews, it’s being heralded as one of the most original and emotionally gripping sci-fi films in years. The film begins as an alien race descends on earth in the form of ancient-looking stone pods. Adams and a team of government workers, which includes co-stars Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker, are dispatched to communicate with the aliens. But the real hook appears to be that even mathematics, often heralded by the scientific community at large as a “universal language,” is proved to be far from it. How do we tell this strange consciousness we have good intentions in diplomacy? And is that even the truth? Digital Trends’ own reviewer Rick Marshall takes things further, saying this film based on the story from lauded sci-fi writer Ted Chiang explores “the philosophical quandaries of predestination, the complexities of linguistics, and the nature of time itself.” What’s up now, Interstellar?
On the polar opposite side is another film with high expectations, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. The latest from Life of Pi director Ang Lee is a war film that unfolds through the flashbacks of a young soldier who’s being heralded as a hero at a Thanksgiving Day football game’s halftime show. While it tackles some serious themes, the film isn’t getting the critical reaction we’d expected, coming in at a very low 45 percent or so from Rotten Tomatoes. If you’re still on board for Lee’s latest visual spectacle, it may be worth checking out, but we’d steer all viewers toward Arrival instead.
Outside the box office, there are plenty of other ways to get lost in entertainment this week, including a daring new trailer for another wild sci-fi adventure, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. A psychedelic feast for the eyes, the trailer’s explosion of colors, rich world-building, and funky aliens are all vaguely reminiscent of cult classic, The Fifth Element, and for good reason. The film, based on a 30-year deep French comic, was written and directed by the man who helmed The Fifth Element two decades ago, Luc Besson. Starring Dane DeHaan (Chronicle), Cara Delevingne (Suicide Squad), Clive Owen, Ethan Hawke, John Goodman, and a bunch of puppets, Valerian looks to be intriguing at the least, and possibly could be a fun new franchise with a nearly unlimited well of backstory to draw from.
Keeping on the sci-fi theme, we also got a bit more from Disney’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story this week, courtesy of the latest international trailer. There’s not a ton of new footage to pore over here, but there’s enough to dig into, including some high-magnitude action, and a slightly longer shot of Star Wars’ best villain, Darth Vader. Speaking of Star Wars, the franchise’s own John Boyega had some news to drop about his new sci-fi franchise pic this week, Pacific Rim: Maelstrom. Boyega not only confirmed the Pacific Rim sequel’s official title, but also said cameras are already rolling, good news for fans of the Godzilla-esque film that introduced the best robot monsters since Voltron, the Jaeger program.
While original director Guillermo Del Toro is out, Maelstrom will be helmed by Daredevil and Jessica Jones showrunner Steven S. DeKnight, and is expected to follow the son of Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) on another adventure, though just how that will work with the dreaded kaiju monsters cut off from earth’s dimension is still shrouded in mystery.
It’s not all sci-fi this week, however. We’ve also got some news about one of the best comedies this side of Seinfeld, Larry David’s ninth season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, which has reportedly begun filming. The whole gang is expected to return, from Richard Lewis to Ted Danson, and we expect the same hilariously awkward high jinks that made the show a classic to return in full form. We also got news this week about the long lingering Freddie Mercury biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody, which is set to star Mr. Robot’s Rami Malek. And finally, we’ve got some exciting cast rumors for everybody’s favorite ‘member-berry series, Stranger Things.
All of that and more will hit the airwaves live at 2 p.m. PST, or you can catch up with this show and over 30 more anytime by following the links above.