The first 'Ready Player One' reviews are in - Silver Screen Beat
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‘Ready Player One’ reviews praise Steven Spielberg’s long-awaited Ernest Cline adaptation

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Ready Player One
WARNER BROS.

In my write-up of the new extended TV spot for Ready Player One last week, I mentioned how I was staying cautiously optimistic for Steven Spielberg’s highly anticipated (and divisive) Ernest Cline adaptation because, despite loving a lot of what the trailers have to offer, Warner Bros. and their reliance on all of the pop culture references in their marketing campaign for the film have certainly turned me off quite a bit.

Fast forward to today, less than 24 hours after Ready Player One had its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas last night, and my hopes for this film have skyrocketed, though not all of the early reviews for Spielberg’s latest effort are necessarily glowing. At press time, Ready Player One has a 75% on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, with an average rating of 5.6/10.

In his review for IndieWire, critic Eric Kohn writes that Ready Player One eventually “becomes the very thing its characters admire, a preponderance of commercial entertainment smashed together into a singularity of blockbuster chaos,” while Jacob Knight of Birth.Movies.Death adds that the film “is one of the most egregiously set piece-driven slices of pop cinema we’ve seen in a long while.”

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As for some of the critics who weren’t all that thrilled with what Ready Player One had to offer, Monica Castillo of The Guardian notes that while “the movie is visually whimsical with its design and neon colors, the weakness of the source material still pokes out,” with Britt Hayes of ScreenCrush describing it as the “cinematic equivalent of a pop-culture mashup tee.”

Ready Player One stars Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, T.J. Miller, Simon Pegg, and Mark Rylance, and will hit theaters on March 29.

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The long-awaited ‘Space Jam’ sequel is finally moving forward with Ryan Coogler producing

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Ryan Coogler Space Jam
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The long-awaited Space Jam sequel is officially moving forward at Warner Bros. with Black Panther director Ryan Coogler signing on to produce the film, which is being directed by Random Acts of Flyness creator Terence Nance and will star LeBron James in his first ever starring role.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, production on the Space Jam sequel is expected to begin in 2019, during the NBA offseason, and will likely feature a number of basketball’s biggest stars and Warner Bros. Looney Toons characters given how many cameos were made in the 1996 original.

The plot of the original Space Jam, a live-action/CG hybrid, revolved around Michael Jordan helping the Looney Tunes gang with a basketball game against a group of outer space creatures who wish to kidnap the Looney Tunes and take them to a failing intergalactic amusement park as the latest attraction.

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“I loved his vision” for Black Panther, James told THR about Coogler, describing how about there were no black superheroes growing up when he was a child. “So for Ryan to be able to bring that to kids, it’s amazing.”

Indeed, what Coogler did with Black Panther was quite astounding, setting a new standard for Hollywood and superhero movies after earning more than $1 billion at the worldwide box office with a film that features a predominantly black cast, directed by a black man.

“The Space Jam collaboration is so much more than just me and the Looney Tunes getting together and doing this movie,” says James, “It’s so much bigger. I’d just love for kids to understand how empowered they can feel and how empowered they can be if they don’t just give up on their dreams. And I think Ryan did that for a lot of people.”

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Focus sets September 2019 release date for ‘Downton Abbey’ movie as production begins

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Downton Abbey
PBS

With production on the highly anticipated Downton Abbey movie officially underway, Focus Features announced Wednesday that the film is scheduled to be released in North America on Friday, September 20, 2019, and internationally on Friday, September 13, 2019, via Universal Pictures International.

The eagerly awaited Downton Abbey movie will star the original principal cast, including Hugh Bonneville, Laura Carmichael, Jim Carter, Brendan Coyle, Michelle Dockery, Kevin Doyle, Joanne Froggatt, Matthew Goode, Harry Hadden-Paton, Robert James-Collier, Allen Leech, Phyllis Logan, Elizabeth McGovern, Sophie McShera, Lesley Nicol, and Penelope Wilton.

The film will also feature some new additions to the cast as well including Imelda Staunton, Geraldine James, Simon Jones, David Haig, Tuppence Middleton, Kate Phillips, and Stephen Campbell Moore.

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Downtown Abbey creator Julian Fellowes wrote the screenplay for the film, which is now being directed by Michael Engler rather than the previously announced Brian Percival, who has now shifted over to an executive producer role with Nigel Marchant.

“Since the series ended, fans of Downton have long been waiting for the Crawley family’s next chapter,” Focus chairman Peter Kujawski said. “We’re thrilled to join this incredible group of filmmakers, actors, and craftspeople, led by Julian Fellowes and Gareth Neame, in bringing back the world of Downton to the big screen next September.”

The show, which picked up a whopping 15 Primetime Emmy Awards and 69 total nominations over the span of its six-season run, followed the lives of the elite Crawley family and the servants who worked for them at the turn of the 20th century in an Edwardian English country home.

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Listen to John Carpenter’s updated version of the iconic Michael Myers theme from ‘Halloween’

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Halloween Beyond Fest
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As if Halloween fans weren’t already excited enough after reading the rave reviews out of the Toronto International Film Festival and watching that terrifyingly good new trailer, Sacred Bones Records has released an entire track from the upcoming’s sequel soundtrack, and it’s bound to get you into the Halloween spirit.

Appropriately titled “The Shape Returns,” the track was composed by John Carpenter himself and is a riff on the iconic piano theme from his 1978 classic, featuring some killer synths and booming percussion that adds a nice twist to the chilling theme that every horror fan knows and loves. Carpenter composed the score along with his son, Cody, and Daniel Davies.

“It was transforming,” Carpenter said about composing the score for the sequel.“It was not a movie I directed, so I had a lot of freedom in creating the score and getting into the director’s head. I was proud to serve David Gordon Green’s vision.”

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The new Halloween, a direct sequel to Carpenter’s original, will see Jamie Lee Curtis reprise her iconic role as Laurie Strode one last time as she comes to her final confrontation with Michael Myers, the masked figure who has haunted her since she narrowly escaped his killing spree on Halloween night four decades ago.

The film also stars Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Virginia Gardner, and Nick Castle, and will open in theaters next month on October 19, the same day the soundtrack is set to be released. You can listen to “The Shape Returns” in its entirety below.

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