The Americans, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and More – The Weekend Chill

The Americans, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and More – The Weekend Chill
  • The Americans season 6 is streaming on Hotstar
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi is now on Blu-ray
  • Ready Player One is out in theatres

Last weekend, a report said that FX and Donald Glover had parted ways on the animated Deadpool series in the works, owing to “creative differences”. Later in the week, Glover tweeted he wasn’t too busy to work on Deadpool, and then appended a 15-page mock script that contained shots at Marvel, and makes references to multiple current events including the last male northern white rhino, Facebook data scandal, and Bitcoin among others. He has since deleted the tweets.

Black Panther became the highest-grossing solo superhero movie of all-time over the weekend, climbing to $1.237 billion worldwide (about Rs. 8,028 crores), and surpassing the record held by Iron Man 3. It’s now the 12th highest-grossing film of all-time globally. Netflix, meanwhile, has been banned from competing in the Cannes Film Festival, which means its movies can’t win the Palme d’Or. The reason for the ban was due to Netflix’s refusal to release its movies in French theatres.

On Monday, Marvel announced three new cast members for Captain Marvel, reprising their roles from The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy: Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson, Lee Pace as Ronan the Accuser, and Djimon Hounsu as Korath the Pursuer. Starring Brie Larson in the lead, Captain Marvel is slated to release March 2019. Later that day, Fox shuffled release dates for some of its movies, pushing X-Men: Dark Phoenix by over three months to February 2019, and The New Mutants another five months to August 2019. Reports surfaced later in the week as to the reason for the delays: both films need reshoots, the third act for Dark Phoenix, and likely 50 percent for The New Mutants.

On Wednesday, a Financial Times report said that Amazon is in talks to acquire rights to Chinese sci-fi series The Three-Body Problem, and may spend close to a billion dollars to make three seasons of TV out of it. That’s a huge sum, on top of Amazon’s other big investments, including the $250 million dollars it spent for a Lord of the Rings prequel series. Later that day, Hulu released the first full-length trailer for The Handmaid’s Tale season 2, which is out in April. The day closed with the news of Pedro Pascal (Narcos, Game of Thrones) joining the cast of Wonder Woman 2, which already stars Gal Gadot and Kristen Wiig. Wonder Woman 2 is slated to release November 2019.

On Thursday, HBO released a full-length trailer for Westworld season 2, giving us a peek at the android uprising that began at the end of the first season. It seems the show is going to be a lot bloodier than before. Westworld returns April 22.

That’s all the entertainment news for this week. Welcome back to The Weekend Chill, your one-stop destination for what to watch, play, or listen to this weekend. Here are the best picks:

The Americans
Picking up three years after the conclusion of season five, The Americans finds the Jennings in a very different world. While Philip (Matthew Rhys) has moved away from the KGB spy life to focus on their travel-agency cover business, Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and their daughter Paige (Holly Taylor) are now involved deeper than before. Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich) has settled down, and shuttered the Soviet task force.

The sixth and final season of the show – a shortened run of 10 episodes, that began Wednesday in the US – uses the time jump to push its fictional world closer to the geopolitical upheaval around the corner, though it’s more interested, as always, in how people get caught up on the other sides of battle lines through no inclination of their own.

Critics are full of praise for the season, calling it a powerful and excellent end to a terrific show. Vox’s Todd VanDerWerff noted the new season “feels like it’s finally homing in on the series’ great theme, which is to say it’s about communication, about the gaps that open up when we don’t tell each other what’s necessary and instead stick to what’s self-serving”.

twc the americans season 6 The Weekend Chill The Americans

How to access: FX or Hotstar
Time commitment: 1 hour, weekly

A Series of Unfortunate Events
Covering books five through nine of Daniel Handler’s popular Lemony Snicket children's novel series, the Netflix adaptation picks up where it left off with the Baudelaires – Violet (Malina Weissman) the inventor, Klaus (Louis Hynes) the reader, and Sunny (Presley Smith) the baby with sharp teeth – at the boarding school that serves as their fifth new home since their parents perished in a fire.

As always, Count Olaf (Neil Patrick Harris) and his theatre troupe are just one step behind them, trying to steal the Baudelaire fortune. Expect more ridiculous disguises and over-the-top scheming. The kids are joined by the Quagmire triplets who were introduced late into the first season, and guests stars for A Series of Unfortunate Events season 2 include Nathan Fillion, Lucy Punch, Tony Hale, and Sara Rue.

The show, partly written by Handler himself and directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, retreads the same ground this new season as before, but the repetition means it’s less fun this time around. Olaf’s antics can get tiring, and he threatens to overshadow everyone else. Guest stars do add a dose of much-needed freshness, and the Baudelaire spirit – to persevere in the face of any danger, in addition to their quest for knowledge – keeps the show running.

A Series of Unfortunate Events Is the Same in Season 2, Which Is Both Good and Bad

How to access: Netflix
Time commitment: 10 hours

The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling
The life and legacy of the late comedian Garry Shandling, best known for The Larry Sanders Show and It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, is the focus of this two-part HBO documentary from director Judd Apatow (Freaks and Greeks), featuring interviews with over 40 friends and family, including James L. Brooks, Jim Carrey, Sacha Baron Cohen, David Coulier, Jon Favreau, Jay Leno, Kevin Nealon, Conan O’Brien, Bob Saget, Jerry Seinfeld and Sarah Silverman.

Apatow also brings in four decades worth of Shandling’s TV appearances, in addition to personal journals, private letters, and home video footage, some of which was sourced publicly after he tweeted a public plea in February last year, asking people to share anything useful they had. The final product, out earlier this week, has been received well by most critics.

The Atlantic’s Sophie Gilbert thinks it “captures the spirit and struggle of a singular talent” even as it “gives excessive time to clips that seem extraneous”, while Indiewire’s Steve Greene called it “an even-handed look at someone who sought to bring meaningful change into other people’s lives as he searched for that same sense of fulfilment himself.”

How to access: HBO
Time commitment: 4 hours and 30 minutes

The Terror
Based on Dan Simmons’ 2007 best-selling fictional book of the same name, The Terror follows the crew of the Royal Navy’s polar explorer HMS Terror in 1847, as they are led by Sir John Franklin (Ciarán Hinds) to locate the Northwest Passage, which links the Pacific to the Atlantic via the Artic Ocean north of Canada. But they soon find themselves trapped in the ice, isolated and freezing to death, while being attacked by an unknown entity.

That entity is Lady Silence (Nive Nielsen), who helps bring the show’s horror element. Ridley Scott is an executive producer on The Terror, which also stars Jared Harris (Mad Men), Tobias Menzies (Outlander), Paul Ready (Utopia), and Ian Hart (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone). The show has been well-received by most critics, after its premiere last Sunday.

The Hollywood Reporter’s David Rooney noted “an impressive confidence to the storytelling”, and “all-round terrific acting”, while LA Times’s Lorraine Ali called it “a beautifully executed, 10-episode tale of the fight for survival. Nerve-wracking suspense, a deceptively gorgeous landscape and the deeply developed characters lend a rich, big-screen quality to The Terror's hour-long episodes.”

How to access: AMC or Amazon Prime Video
Time commitment: 1 hour, weekly

Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Having grossed over a billion in theatrical earnings, the critically-acclaimed eighth chapter of the Skywalker saga has arrived on Blu-ray and digital rentals. The story picks up where we left off with Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Luke (Mark Hamill) at the end of The Force Awakens in 2015. Newer members, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), Finn (John Boyega), and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) return alongside fan favourites, Leia (Carrie Fisher), Chewbacca, R2-D2, and BB-8.

The Last Jedi also stars Snoke (Andy Serkis), General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson), Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong’o), C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), and Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie). New characters include Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran), Amilyn Holdo (Laura Dern), and DJ (Benicio del Toro). In terms of droids, BB-9E joins the line-up as an evil, sinister version of BB-8.

The film follows three parallel storylines: Rey’s training with Luke, the First Order chasing the Resistance, and Finn and Rose trying to execute a plan that will help them escape. This is the last film role for Fisher, who passed away in December 2016.

The Last Jedi is one of the best Star Wars films of all-time, with writer-director Rian Johnson able to deliver big action spectacles and small important moments for all characters, executing both with a deft touch that takes the franchise in a brave new direction.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Is the Perfect Showcase of Rian Johnson's Talents

How to access: Amazon IN, Amazon US, Amazon UK, Google Play IN, or iTunes US
Time commitment: 2 hours and 32 minutes

Ready Player One
Steven Spielberg directs Ernest Cline’s 2011 novel of the same name, set in a dystopian 2045 where humanity escapes the desolation of reality by plugging into the OASIS, an expansive virtual reality universe where anyone can be anything. Ready Player One follows teenager Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), as he sets out to complete a quest created by OASIS founder James Halliday (Mark Rylance), the winner of which will get full ownership of the world.

This sparks a contest that grips the entire world, including a massive conglomerate led by Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn), who wishes to monetise OASIS to maximise profits for his company. The book is more famous for its endless pop culture references, and Spielberg brings that quality to screen in eye-popping fashion, creating thrilling action set-pieces that involve everything from King Kong to Mechagodzilla.

We weren’t too pleased with the film, noting its lack of character and story depth, an inauthentic and cliched romance between the two lead protagonists, and being simply content with pushing the nostalgia button. For some though, the latter in the hands of Spielberg may well be enough. Critical consensus seems to be divided: though it’s 78 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s barely holding the green rating with a 64 score on Metacritic.

Ready Player One: A Visual Feast Brimming With Nostalgia, but Little Else

How to access: Out in cinema halls
Time commitment: 2 hours and 20 minutes

Other mentions:
In the world of streaming this week, Netflix added another popular Disney film The Lion King, in addition to Steven Spielberg’s 2005 drama Munich, which was already available on Amazon Prime Video. Amazon’s biggest addition this week was Padmaavat, the controversial film based on a poem that became one of the highest-grossing Indian films of all-time despite mixed reviews, and not releasing in some states.

Video games:
Far Cry 5
Ubisoft’s over-a-decade-old first-person shooter, having explored the Himalayas, unmarked Pacific islands and Africa in previous main releases, now travels to Montana in Far Cry 5. You play as an unnamed sheriff’s deputy who must lead the resistance for the oppressed citizens against a doomsday cult known as The Project at Eden’s Gate, started by a charismatic prophet Joseph Seed and his children.

Far Cry 5 boasts of “the largest customisable weapon and vehicle roster ever” in a Far Cry game. And unlike past entries that turned radio towers into a running joke, Far Cry 5 does away with that game mechanic, and instead pits you against Seed’s henchmen to take control of regions. The progression system is quite robust, as we said in our review of Far Cry 5, with everything you do directly impacting the plot.

The game has a recruitment system similar to Far Cry 2 and Far Cry 4, where you need to convince locals to join your cause. The new entry in the Far Cry franchise is also one of the best-looking games we’ve seen. It performs impressively on PC as well, and seems well-optimised for older machines. All that is to say Far Cry 5 is well worth your time, especially if you enjoy open-world first-person shooters.

How to access: PlayStation 4, Steam for PC, and Xbox One
Time commitment: 20 hours

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