Catching up

It’s been a ridiculously busy week, I realized today I’ve been on every site in my network except for this one. So maybe I’ll just post some highlights of everything that’s happening:

1) Now Playing “Pick a Podcast” Poll

Over at the Now Playing Podcast website, we’re running a poll where you can choose one of five films for an upcoming review. The contenders are Babadook (haven’t seen it), Wes Craven’s Shocker (legendary horror bomb), Sinister (haven’t seen that either), John Carpenter’s They Live (a classic), and The Usual Suspects (another classic).

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The poll closes Feb. 27, so there’s still time to cast your vote. I’m backing They Live, because I think it’s the last really great John Carpenter film, and I loved it as a kid.

The winner of the poll will be announced during the March 3 review of 2 Fast 2 Furious.

2) Preview of Furious 7 soundtrack

Speaking of The Fast and the Furious franchise (because that’s something I never write about), two tracks from the Furious 7 soundtrack are online now, and more will be coming ahead of the films April 3 release.

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I’ve been thinking about writing some articles about the F&F soundtracks, going back to the first film, which was heavy on Ja Rule, back when he and Limp Bizkit were still popular.

I listened to one track from Furious 7, “Ride Out” by Kid Ink, Tyga, Wale, YG, and Rich Homie Quan. It was pretty good. By the way, writing all of those names made me feel very old.

3) The campaign has begun

Tuesday night’s live Now Playing Podcast review of Kingsman: The Secret Service was such a blast. It was great fun interacting with all of the listeners in the chat room and on Twitter.

The show kicked off Venganza Media’s first Kickstarter campaign to fund “Underrated Movies We Recommend.” The listeners have been incredibly generous so far, and $23,000 was raised within the first 24 hours.

The campaign runs until March 19.

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Unreal

Snip20141101_21That’s the first word that came to mind after seeing the Furious 7 trailer this afternoon.

The event, streamed online and presented by E!, featured the first footage from the film and capped a weeklong promotional event Universal dubbed, “The Road to Furious 7.”

As I did with the Super Bowl release of the first Fast and Furious 6 trailer, here some quick thoughts — seven of them:

1) Paul Walker will be front-and-center in the sequelSnip20141101_20

It doesn’t appear the actor’s role will be reduced following his death last year. Walker is featured heavily in the trailer, especially in the first stunt…

2) The franchise will continue to defy the laws of physicsSnip20141101_19

And I will love it. To think that at one time it bothered me to see Walker jump his car over a competitor as they raced across a rising bridge.

The Fast franchise has gotten more ridiculous with each sequel, and the Furious 7 trailer starts with cars parachuting out of a plane, segueing into the image above; Walker racing  to jump from a bus falling off a cliff.

3) Let’s hope there’s better dialogue than thisSnip20141101_21

“It’s like the sins of London have followed us home,” Diesel says during the trailer.

Come on. This isn’t 2 Fast 2 Furious anymore. I know the franchise isn’t going to win any Best Screenplay awards — and that’s not why I’m a fan — but that one was a real groaner.

4) I’m loving that the franchise continues to think globalSnip20141101_22

This series is going Mission Impossible in terms of its foreign locales. The first trailer gives a glimpse of the glamorous Abu Dhabi scenes, with Diesel trading in his sleeveless shirts for a tux. Very James Bond-ian.

5) The Rock is backSnip20141101_23

Not only does he get to wield a minigun like Jesse Ventura in Predator, but we see a wounded Hobbs break himself free of a seriously huge cast in order to get back in the action.

6) Welcome Kurt RussellSnip20141101_24

We knew he had a role in the film, we still don’t know what it is. But it’s an awesome treat to have Snake Plissken and “Stuntman” Mike McKay on board.

 7) Did I mention the leaping?Snip20141101_25

Diesel and villain Jason Statham are presented here — in what I presume is their final fight — in mid-leap. There’s going to be a lot in this movie that’s not possible without special effects. I’m going with it.

‘Fast & Furious 7’ will kick off summer 2015 box office

Universal Pictures will release Fast & Furious 7 on April 10, 2015, series star Vin Diesel announced on his Facebook page late Sunday.

The action pic is now in position to lead the summer box office, as it will bow three weekends ahead of Avengers: Age of Ultron.

While the studio hasn’t publicly commented on the delay, the move suggests major rewrites are needed following the death of actor Paul Walker, who portrayed Brian O’Conner in five of the six Fast films.

Walker will be featured in Fast & Furious 7, but it’s unknown how much of the footage featuring the actor will be used. One scene featuring O’Conner and several other characters at a funeral was included on the recent Fast & Furious 6 Blu-Ray release.

It’s safe to assume none of the footage that’s been shot is guaranteed to make it into the final film.

Universal had planned to release Fast & Furious 7 next July, so an extra nine months leaves filmmakers enough time to add or remove other characters from the story if necessary.

The new release date means the franchise will be joining the likes of Jurassic Park, Terminator, Bourne, Mad Max and the aforementioned Avengers at the summer 2015 box office.

It’s a crowded schedule, but Fast & Furious 7 is now at the head of the pack, instead of the middle of the field.

Universal is also betting on history with the move, as the fourth and fifth Fast entries were both released to great success in April 2009 and 2011, respectively.

How will ‘Fast’ films deal with Walker’s death?

I posted this story to FOX5Vegas.com this afternoon — what’s in store for the Fast & Furious films following the death of series star Paul Walker?

There was never any doubt in my mind that the next film, Fast & Furious 7, would be finished (and that was backed up by The Hollywood Reporter) but the filmmakers face the hardest decision when it comes to Walker’s character.

Should Brian O’Conner die in the series? Is there a way to pay tribute to Walker’s role using his finished scenes?

It’s a terrible position for first-time Fast helmer James Wan, who is taking over for Justin Lin, who had directed every film in the series since Tokyo Drift.

As I wrote, the Fast films aren’t the first to lose a star, but the series theme of “family” is going to make it harder for Wan and his writers.

The O’Conner character isn’t one you can easily cut and lift out of continuity. He’s appeared in all but one of the films, and is now married and a father.

While it’s easy to say co-star Vin Diesel is the bigger star of the series, Walker’s death will cast a shadow over the seventh film and any that follow. Diesel, who is also a producer, may decide not to continue the series.

Universal tried to extend the franchise without Walker (with Diesel only in a cameo) and the result was Tokyo Drift, a movie that was poorly received and removed from series continuity until the end of Fast & Furious 6.

Together, Diesel and Walker are the foundation of the films, in a way I can only compare to Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in the Lethal Weapon films. It doesn’t feel right to have one without the other.

Elsewhere:

‘Fast and Furious’ star Paul Walker dies in California car wreck

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Actor Paul Walker in a poster for 2013’s ‘Fast and Furious 6’

Paul Walker, one of the stars of Universal’s The Fast and the Furious film franchise, died Saturday in a car wreck in Santa Clarita, California, according to a statement on the actor’s Facebook page.

The news, first reported by TMZ and later confirmed by multiple media outlets, comes during production of Fast and Furious 7, next summer’s sequel in the action film franchise.

Walker’s death will no doubt throw the status of the film’s July 11 release date into question. It’s unknown how much filming he had completed before Sunday’s accident.

The first film in the franchise, 2001’s The Fast and the Furious, earned more than $200 million at the box office. It was followed by two sequels, 2003’s 2 Fast 2 Furious and 2006’s The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, although Walker only appeared in the former.

Tepid reviews and Tokyo Drift’s unimpressive box office take left the series on life support until Walker and co-star Vin Diesel reunited for 2009’s Fast & Furious. The film exceeded expectations and shifted the franchise’s direction away from street racing into a worldwide heist action series.

Walker and Diesel would return for 2011’s Fast Five and last summer’s Fast & Furious 6. Combined grosses for both sequels totaled more than $1 billion, making The Fast and the Furious Universal’s biggest franchise of all time.

In a recent interview with Collider, Walker, 40, confirmed that Universal had immediate plans for an eighth film in the franchise, with a ninth and tenth installment also likely, although he joked that by the time the films were made, “I’ll be 50.”

Netflix, Marvel and the coming ‘Geekpocalypse’

To think, just a couple of years ago I was wondering if Netflix had peaked.

The company was in the midst of its Qwikster debacle, the stock was in tailspin, and I was counting the number of subscribers who quit the service because they didn’t want to pay double for DVD’s and streaming programming.

Now? All I can say is Welcome, Content Overlords.

Netflix and Marvel are making plans for four superhero series and a Defenders miniseries, all to stream in 2015.

I dubbed it a “Geekpocalypse” in an article on FOX5Vegas.com.

Not only will heroes like Daredevil and Luke Cage make their Netflix debuts in 2015, but the big screen calendar will be stacked with films like Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man, Star Wars Episode VII, Jurassic World, Terminator 5 and Batman vs. Superman.

That’s almost too much for me to handle. If there’s a new Star Trek or Fast & Furious flick coming out that same summer, I will have to take a lot of time off.

As I mention in the article, Netflix has a serious reputation for quality when it comes to its original shows, having made leaps and bounds in just the past year.

Think about it. A year ago people had never heard of Orange is the New Black and House of Cards was still being discussed as a one-time gamble for a rejected cable show.

But those critics were quieted when the show debuted to rave reviews and started racking up award nominations.

Clearly, Marvel was impressed. Now they’ve embraced the Netflix model and will bring fans a new version of Daredevil, along with the live-action debuts of Cage, Iron Fist and Jessica Jones.

And although they haven’t been given an official “Phase One” title like their cinematic brethren, this plan appears to be following the Avengers model.

So who knows what’s to come beyond 2015. It’s never too early to speculate.