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Saturday, August 29, 2015

TV Review: Hannibal “The Wrath of the Lamb” (Series Finale)

Cult series steps away from the table.

Review by Brandon Wolfe

Hannibal’s third, and ultimately final, season carried with it the problem of reverence. In the first two seasons, the series carved out its own territory apart from Thomas Harris’ novels, staking its claim to the heretofore unexplored era prior to Red Dragon, when Will Graham worked as an FBI profiler and Hannibal Lecter was a psychiatrist and advisor. In these seasons, the show operated as a wackadoo procedural, a CSI where killers operate as avant-garde artists who will sew you into a tapestry with a hundred other bodies, fashion your corpse into a biological tree or rip you apart while wearing animal adornments and operating as a self-appointed werewolf. It was completely, gloriously insane, and it felt fresh and new. But with the third season, series creator Bryan Fuller made the understandable decision to finally tackle Harris’ source material, taking on adaptations of both the Hannibal and Red Dragon novels, with a pinch of Hannibal Rising for good measure. The Hannibal portion, taking up the season’s first half, was frequently much too faithful, but it did show a tendency to go off-book at several turns, even if doing so left it feeling wildly uneven. The Red Dragon half, however, while more cohesive than the first half, was faithful to an absolute fault. Red Dragon had already previously been adapted, largely to the letter, by two films, and Hannibal’s take on the material didn’t put nearly as much of a new spin on the old chestnut as one might have expected. The most wickedly unpredictable show on television had become something you could sing along with at home.

“The Wrath of the Lamb,” Hannibal’s impromptu swan song, finally decides to divest itself from its roots in thrilling fashion, reclaiming its bold, original voice. While the episode sticks to the script in the early goings, with killer Francis Dolarhyde faking his death before his blind girlfriend Reba after setting his house ablaze, the episode then opts to throw Harris’ story into the flames as well. Dolarhyde pursues Will Graham with vengefulness, as he did in the book, but rather than that instigating a bloody final encounter, Will flips the script by selling Dolarhyde on the notion that the person whom he really should settle up with is Dr. Lecter himself, whose betrayal, in Dolarhyde’s mind, was the most egregious of all due to the hero worship in play. Hannibal, of course, is still locked up in his spacious, immaculate cell, but Will sells Jack Crawford on the idea of faking a prison transfer with Hannibal to use him as bait to lure Dolarhyde right to them. Though Will leaves out the detail of his bargain with Dolarhyde, he and Jack are on the same page: neither killer is to survive this plan.

The plan goes horribly wrong, as it must, when Dolarhyde attacks the convoy prematurely, killing all of the guards and allowing Hannibal to be freed. Dolarhyde then vanishes as Hannibal takes agency over the situation, commandeering a police car and offering a shell-shocked Will the shotgun seat. Hannibal takes them to his old cliffside home, with the full knowledge that Dolarhyde will follow them there. When the Great Red Dragon shows up, he’s armed for bear, shooting Hannibal through the torso and stabbing Will mercilessly several times. Ultimately, Will and Hannibal have to double up (with shades of Riggs and Murtaugh tag-teaming Jet Li in Lethal Weapon 4) to take Dolarhyde down, in a bravura fight sequence with Will swinging an axe while Hannibal hungrily tears out Dolarhyde’s throat with his teeth (possibly the only instance in the entire series where Mads Mikkelsen gets to embrace the animalistic viciousness inherent to the character), leaving the killer vanquished in a blood-gushing spectacle. Then Will and Hannibal, those star-crossed lovers, enjoy a warm embrace before Will guides them both off the edge of the cliff, onto the rocks below.

For all the talk of Hannibal possibly continuing on in some form, be it a fourth season elsewhere or a film, “The Wrath of the Lamb” appears to close the door on the characters quite definitively (a coda, with Gillian Anderson’s frigid Bedelia du Maurier sitting down to an ornately prepared meal of her own leg, stands as a puzzling non-sequitur). It’s quite possible that Fuller shot more than one ending to provide options for the future, and then went with the nuclear option after all of the other avenues dried up. But the finality of Will’s and Hannibal’s fate actually feels like the perfect culmination of the series. Will’s unending mental torture over his work (which had broken him even before he ever met Hannibal Lecter) had finally gotten him to a place where a normal existence was simply no longer viable. He had tried to start a family (with a wife and stepson that the series treated as a fuzzy afterthought), but it had become impossible for him to argue against Hannibal’s ceaseless taunts that the darkness has always been where Will belongs. When Will takes action to rid himself of torment and the world of Hannibal Lecter, there’s a hint of The Monster’s final decision at the climax of Bride of Frankenstein, particularly in the acknowledgement to his bride that “We belong dead.” The series has really run with the idea of Hannibal and Will as locked in a perverse, yet mutually felt romance, and there’s something intimate and oddly touching about their final moments together.

“The Wrath of the Lamb” does its best to tie a bow around the remainder of the series as well, For starters, it brings back the forensic comedy duo of Price and Zeller (Scott Thompson and Aaron Abrams), whose levity has been sorely missed during this often oppressively dour final season. Alana Bloom and Margot Verger take their burgeoning family into hiding after Hannibal states his intentions to come after them once free. We even get a final check-in with what’s left of Frederick Chilton, who was horrifically burned and disfigured after his encounter with Dolarhyde the previous week (though he’s already receiving skin grafts, bolstering the notion that no injury, however grievous, will ever topple this shockingly resilient man). Jack Crawford doesn’t get much of a send-off, but at least all of these nutjobs will no longer occupy his every waking thought.

Hannibal was a show that cleared every barrier in its path seemingly destined to stifle it. It was an NBC primetime show that somehow managed to be exponentially gorier and more violent than any of the R-rated theatrical films about Hannibal Lecter. It was weird, arty and horribly rated, yet hung on for three full years. It arguably did more justice to Thomas Harris’ world than any of the cinematic adaptations, save for The Silence of the Lambs. And though its small-but-vocal fan base bemoans its cancellation (which is almost certain to be permanent now that Mikkelsen has large roles in Star Wars: Rogue One and Doctor Strange in his future), “The Wrath of the Lamb” feels like a logical ending point. It’s satisfying on an emotional level and thrilling on a visceral one. Besides, where else could the series have gone from here? Another achingly familiar retelling of a Harris novel (this time of the beyond-iconic Silence of the Lambs)? Another manhunt for an in-the-wind Hannibal Lecter? A brand-new serial killer case for a captive Hannibal to again assist with? We’ve been there. We’ve done that. While it’s sad to no longer have these versions of the characters in our lives anymore, this actually feels like the ideal place for the series to call it a wrap. Hannibal now concludes its run as a perfectly portioned meal. Anything more than this would be overeating.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Brandon Wolfe at @BrandonTheWolfe.


Win A Copy Of Mad Max: #FuryRoad On Blu-ray,DVD & Digital HD

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has provided us with an amazing giveaway for our fans. We will be giving away Mad Max: Fury Road on Blu-ray,DVD & Digital HD.

Five lucky winners will take home a copy of the film

Filmmaker George Miller's Mad Max: Fury Road, which stars Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Nathan Jones, Zoë Kravitz, Riley Keough, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Abbey Lee and Courtney Eaton. The Road Warrior returns via 2D and 3D Blu-ray combo packs on September 1st.


A apocalyptic story set in the furthest reaches of our planet, in a stark desert landscape where humanity is broken, and most everyone is crazed fighting for the necessities of life. Within this world exist two rebels on the run who just might be able to restore order. There's Max, a man of action and a man of few words, who seeks peace of mind following the loss of his wife and child in the aftermath of the chaos. And Furiosa, a woman of action and a woman who believes her path to survival may be achieved if she can make it across the desert back to her childhood homeland.

See how to enter after the Jump...

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Oh! Heavenly Dog Is Getting A Remake

According to THR Fox 2000 is remaking Oh! Heavenly Dog, an early Chevy Chase comedy, with Tim Hill attached to helm the feature.

The 1980 comedy centered on a private investigator who is killed when he discovers a dead body. With his soul’s future at stake — it’s not decided if he’s going to Heaven or Hell — he gets a chance for some redemption work, coming back to Earth as a dog in order to solve his own murder.

Hill, who launched the Alvin and the Chipmunks franchise for the studio and was one of the key developers behind SpongeBob Squarepants, will write the script with Dave Johnson.

Temple Hill, the production shingle behind The Maze Runner franchise as well this summer’s Paper Towns, and Brandon Camp, the son of the original movie’s director and co-writer, Joe Camp, are producing the remake.

The 1980 comedy centered on a private investigator who is killed when he discovers a dead body. With his soul’s future at stake — it’s not decided if he’s going to Heaven or Hell — he gets a chance for some redemption work, coming back to Earth as a dog in order to solve his own murder.

Chase starred in the movie with Jane Seymour and Omar Sharif. The dog was played by a descendent of classic film canine Benji.

Hill’s Chipmunks grossed over $360 million when it was released in 2007. He also directed Hop, Universal and Illumination’s 2011 Easter Bunny-themed movie that starred Russell Brand and James Marsden. He is currently writing the pilot for The April O’Neil Files for Nickelodeon.

Temple Hill's latest movie, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, opens September 18.

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Friday, August 28, 2015

Marvel Collector Corps Review: August 2015

After a smallish June, Marvel returns with a big Secret War theme.

Review by Matt Cummings

The subscription box war has seen Marvel enter the fray with it Collector Corps boxes, which resulted in a fabulous and memorable April, which was followed up by a somewhat disappointing June. While not a total failure like Fox's The Fantastic Four, it did show just how close Marvel had cozied-up with Funko Pop; whether that bothers you probably depends on a number of factors, including the addition of Pop! figures in every box. And while Ant-Man the movie has grown on me, I still can't say the same about that month's Collector Corp. So it's very satisfying to announce that August's box - SECRET WAR - is back with everything we loved about April, giving fans exactly what they want: quality exclusives, including a shirt.

The Promise

Before we begin, let's look at the deal again: promising a value of $50, the box would keep the "fluff" (their words) to a minimum with Funko partnering each time to deliver an exclusive figure. Joining at the Founders level would get you an 8" exclusive figure on your one-year anniversary, but you can also subscribe at the Collector level at $25 with $6.95 shipping. We're still not sure which figure they will release to Founders, but it's clear now that Funko will play a part. With my Marvel Unlimited Plus comic sub, I get a terrific (and exclusive) Legends figure, so I'm hopeful that we'll see something as high quality as the Rocket Raccoon which graced my door months ago.

The Delivery

This is a nice big box, which tells me that what's inside could be great. The Thor image on top does not give away the interior, but the art is solid, as it has been for all of the boxes so far. As you can see, the outer box features the same lettering across the entire sides of the box as in previous months. But it's the change in interior art that's also worth noting: the images do not feature dialogue (probably a legal issue), but the frame they included appears to be from Secret Wars.

The box also features separate sections for each of the figures. This helps to keep everything in line, something I'm sure MCC heard about from irate fans who got smashed or dented boxes.

As with previous months, the inner flap contains two collectible "accessories" including an Iron Man pin and a Falcon patch. These are consistently some of the best items in every box, and my messenger bag is filling up quick with both. I'm definitely keeping these.

The Guts
As you can see, we have a shirt and what appears to be two Funko figures - nice! This month's theme is Secret Wars, based on the successful re-launch of the comic that brought Ultimates and 616 universes on a collision course. Exposing the interior flap revealed three layers: shirt, comic, and Pop! figures in that order. Knowing now that Marvel and Funko are collaborating here makes it harder to be disappointed every other month, when I was expecting Marvel Legends figures or other non-Funko items. Again, notice how the cardboard now features separated sections.

Say what you want about Marvel's decision to cast a female Thor in their comics, but this exclusive figure is well made and attractive. The same goes for Miles Morales Spider-man, whose much darker uniform looks pretty cool. I don't open these figures but will be displaying them along with the others from the MCC line. Their exclusivity and craftsmanship make for a nice display.

A Shirt I'm Happy to Wear
One of the things I loved about the April box was the awesome boxing-themed shirt; it factors big time in my scoring. This month features a Funko-inspired Secret War set, with female Thor, Iron Man, FalconCap, and Superior Spider-man. The material is soft and the colors vibrant, and I've noticed that my other shirts do not fade or shrink. They always do their shirts right, and this one will look great in my collection.

The Comic
Included with the set is another comic: a MCC variant for Secret War, featuring Jane Foster Thor. What's great about this submission is that the comic is bagged AND boarded! That's a great touch, and it's totally appreciated, as I won't be opening it. This one goes right into the comic box, but that's not because it's not worth your time to read. And the cover is very cool, making for another nice addition. This should keep the comic-heads happy when their previous comics arrive dented and generally messed up.

The Bottom Line
Marvel's Collector Corps' August release is another winner, a return to the majesty of April. Everything here screams quality, especially Marvel's continued commitment to protect your investment. Filled with several exclusive items - including a great shirt - the box misses nothing as you delve into the world of Secret War. With Loot Crate's apparent fall off from their April, May, and June boxes, MCC looks to take the lead - possibly for good - in the subscription box war.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.

Joe Carnahan To Direct Five Against A Bullet

In development since 2011 and with Joe Carnahan attached to direct since this time last year, Five Against A Bullet has finally got the go-ahead. Carnahan's name was recently connected with Bad Boys 3, but it looks like this will happen first.

Five Against A Bullet has been lingering in limbo for a while, ever since Transformers producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura brought it to studio Sony four years ago. Originally boasting a script by Alex Litvak (Predators), it’s the story of a Mexican politician whose father is slaughtered by a drug cartel. In order to stay alive during a campaign to clean up his local area, the canny politico hires the five best bodyguards available.

The film attracted Bruce Willis’ attention in 2012, but things went quiet after that. Carnahan – no stranger to films boasting a high bullet count thanks to Narc, Smokin’ Aces and The A-Team – signed up to re-write and direct the film in 2014, and its latest momentum comes from former Geffen Records president Jordan Schur, who's made it part of the slate of his new production company Suretone Pictures.

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New Trailer For #RockTheKasbah

Rock the Kasbah is an upcoming American comedy film directed by Barry Levinson and written by Mitch Glazer. The film stars Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Zooey Deschanel, Kate Hudson, Leem Lubany, Scott Caan, Danny McBride, Arian Moayed, Taylor Kinney, and Beejan Land.

The film is scheduled to be released on October 23, 2015

Watch the trailer after the Jump...

Richie Lanz (Bill Murray), a has-been rock manager takes his last remaining client on a USO tour of Afghanistan. When Richie finds himself in Kabul, abandoned, penniless and without his passport, he discovers a young girl with an extraordinary voice and manages her through Afghanistan’s version of American Idol.

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#FREEHELD Final Posters

Inspired by actual events, Julianne Moore and Ellen Page portray the beautiful love story between Laurel Hester (Moore) and Stacie Andree (Page) in the upcoming feature, FREEHELD. After being diagnosed with cancer, Laurel wishes to leave her pension to her domestic partner Stacie, until she is denied by the local county officials. With the help of her allies, including Laurel’s longtime colleague detective Dane Wells (Michael Shannon) and activist Steven Goldstein (Steve Carell), Laurel will do anything she can to support her partner and fight for equality.

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

New #EverestMovie Images @everestmovie

Inspired by the incredible events surrounding an attempt to reach the summit of the world’s highest mountain, Everest documents the awe-inspiring journey of two different expeditions challenged beyond their limits by one of the fiercest snowstorms ever encountered by mankind. Their mettle tested by the harshest elements found on the planet, the climbers will face nearly impossible obstacles as a lifelong obsession becomes a breathtaking struggle for survival.

The epic adventure stars Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Robin Wright, Michael Kelly, Sam Worthington, Keira Knightley, Emily Watson and Jake Gyllenhaal.

See all the images after the Jump...

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New Captain America: #CivilWar Concept Art Which Side Are You On?

Hawkeye himself, Jeremy Renner posting concept art to his Twitter account. Don’t read any further if you’re trying to avoid any spoilers, stop reading.

See all the images after the Jump...

The film, of course, finds Steve “Captain America” Rogers (Chris Evans) and Tony “Iron Man” Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) having a fundamental disagreement on how the government should interact with superheroes. Do they need more supervision? Are there new regulations that could be put in place? Tony, burned by experiences with Ultron, thinks there should. Steve’s not so sure. And thus the lines are drawn.

From the art below, we can see that Tony's side boasts War Machine (James Rhodes, played by Don Cheadle), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanov), Black Panther (AKA T'Challa, in the shape of Chadwick Boseman) and Vision (Paul Bettany), who would surely guarantee victory in any squabble, unless you appeal to his hopeful nature. Rogers rounds up Hawkeye (Renner, posing with Paul Rudd’s Scott “Ant-Man” Lang on his shoulder), Emily VanCamp’s Sharon Carter, Anthony Mackie’s Sam “Falcon” Wilson and Sebastian Stan’s James Bucky Barnes, in full Winter Soldier Regalia. Not featured? Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlett Witch, Wanda Maximoff, though she was among the gang seen with Cap in the footage, so we’ll assume for now she’s Team Steve.

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