‘Game night’ Trailer: Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams Have a Real Bad Time

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It’s easy to imagine the pitch meeting for Game Night, a high concept dark comedy about an evening of frivolous fun gone horrifically wrong. “What if David Fincher’s The Game starred a bunch of bumbling idiots?” Well, here you go. The first Game Night trailer is here, and I’ll be the first to admit that it made me chuckle more than a few times.

This is a low comedy, but there’s nothing wrong with a low comedy that works! Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams lead a strong cast as a couple whose weekly game night spirals out of control when an interactive “murder mystery” element is introduced. But what’s real and what’s not? And why are people actually dying and why are guns going off? And why is that dog covered in blood?

Game Night Trailer

Most importantly, Game Night is a Friday Night Lights reunion, once again putting Kyle Chandler and Jesse Plemons within spitting distance of each other. Texas forever!

While this is undeniably a glossy studio comedy hoping to please the broadest audience possible, I’ll just be honest with you and admit that yes, I laughed during this trailer. I laughed a lot. I especially laughed during the plane engine gag, an amusing bit brilliantly punctuated by McAdams’ line delivery. While I’m not a fan of Vacation, the previous film from directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein (okay, it’s straight-up rotten), the dark edge on display in this footage has my attention. After all, Bateman has been at his best when his “straightforward nice guy” persona is pushed to uncomfortable extremes, and McAdams is a frequently underutilized comedic talent. Bring it on.

Here’s the official synopsis:

Bateman and McAdams star as Max and Annie, whose weekly couples game night gets kicked up a notch when Max’s charismatic brother, Brooks (Chandler), arranges a murder mystery party, complete with fake thugs and faux federal agents. So when Brooks gets kidnapped, it’s all part of the game…right? But as the six uber-competitive gamers set out to solve the case and win, they begin to discover that neither this “game”—nor Brooks—are what they seem to be. Over the course of one chaotic night, the friends find themselves increasingly in over their heads as each twist leads to another unexpected turn. With no rules, no points, and no idea who all the players are, this could turn out to be the most fun they’ve ever had…or game over.

Game Night also stars Billy Magnussen, Sharon Horgan, Lamorne Morris, Kylie Bunbury, Danny Huston, and Michael C. Hall and opens on March 2, 2018.

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Harry Potter is getting its own AR mobile game from the ‘Pokémon Go’ developers

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Get ready to finally become the witch or wizard you’ve always wanted to be.

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is a new augmented reality mobile game created in partnership between Warner Bros. and Niantic  —  the creators of the hit mobile game Pokémon Go.

Not much is known about Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, which was revealed today, but it sounds like it has some similar features to Pokémon Go. Namely, players will have to visit locations in the real world to find different objects and engage with the world. That means uncovering magical artifacts, meeting characters and beasts from the wizarding world, and learning to cast spells. Read more…

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21-year-old woman loses her eyesight after staring at her smartphone game for days

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A woman from China has gone partially blind, after spending an entire day playing a game on her smartphone.

The 21-year-old, who goes under the pseudonym Wu Xiaojing, was a hardcore fan of popular multiplayer smartphone game Honour of Kings.

Wu, who works in finance, was said to have been playing the game for several hours when she suddenly lost her sight in her right eye.

She was taken to several hospitals and was diagnosed with Retinal Artery Occlusion (RAO) in her right eye.

Image: 观察者网/weibo Read more…

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Conan rips on Kumail Nanjiani’s unconvincing orc voice in Xbox game

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What’s better than another episode of Conan O’Brien’s “Clueless Gamer” segment? Having a hilarious guest who also happens to be in the game, as well.

This time, he had The Big Sick‘s Kumail Nanjiani as co-pilot while they explored the upcoming Xbox game Middle-earth: Shadow of War.

It’s all good fun ripping on the characters until Nanjiani reveals, cringing, that he voiced “Dugz the Agonizer,” one of the enemy orcs that they were about to face.

Nanjiani was right to cringe. Because once Dugz shows up on screen and speaks, it sounds exactly like Nanjiani himself — not at all like an orc.

“You didn’t change your voice at all! Did you do that over the phone? What the hell was that!” yells O’Brien, before delivering the final stinger: “He should be called Kumail the Nanjiani.” Read more…

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‘Gerald’s Game’ and ‘1922’ (and ‘It’) Kickstart a Glorious Stephen King Movie Renaissance

gerald's game

It’s a hell of a year for Stephen King fans. We’ve seen not one, not two, but three supposedly unfilmable Stephen King movies released: The Dark Tower, It and Gerald’s Game. And, remarkably, only The Dark Tower has proven to have earned that unfilmable reputation.

The trick to nailing a Stephen King adaptation is to create multi-faceted, interesting characters. That is the horror author’s greatest strength. The scary stuff only works because you care about these fictional people. They feel real to you. When I read It at an admittedly way too young age, I viewed every member of The Losers Club as my friend. The recent film adaption takes many liberties, but man does it perfectly capture those characters.

And now, two new Stephen King adaptations, Gerald’s Game and 1922 (both of which were produced by Netflix) continue this trend. King, despite his reputation as a horror writer, is all about character. Welcome to the Stephen King Movie Renaissance – not even The Dark Tower can mute the success of these other adaptations.

It’s About Character, Damn It!

All the best King movies have iconic, fleshed out characters. Carrie, The Shining (yes, I’ll stand against King himself on the merits of that adaptation), The Dead Zone, Stand By Me, The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, The Mist, Misery and Dolores Claiborne all jump to mind.

The Dark Tower failed on many levels, but the topmost reason it did not work as an adaptation is that couldn’t translate King’s richest, most well-developed characters to anything but broad caricatures on screen. Sure, the story was too weird for modern audiences, but the big secret is that even the most average movie-goer will roll with anything as long as they care about the characters up on the screen.

You can’t get any more convoluted and mythological than The Lord of the Rings, but when you give a crap about Frodo and his fellowship suddenly, you don’t blink an eye about a giant flame demon brandishing a fire whip.

gerald's game stephen king

Gerald’s Game, the Impossible Novel

Director and co-writer Mike Flanagan understood this and that’s why Gerald’s Game, a story that mostly takes place in a single location about a woman handcuffed to a bed with no one to talk to but herself, a wild dog and a creepy disfigured apparition that might or might not be a figment of her imagination, works so well.

It helps that Flanagan cast wonderful actors like Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood in the two biggest roles. Jessie Burlingame is a tough character. She has to be vulnerable, strong, helpless, determined, terrified and MacGuyver-smart all at the same time. Gugino expertly flips back and forth between panic attacks and a calm, realist approach to her rather unique and life-threatening situation in a way that feels so authentic that you instantly buy her as a real, complex character.

If you’re not familiar with the story, Jessie and her husband Gerald (Greenwood) go to a secluded lake house for a romantic excursion. Their relationship has grown stale and their love life is in jeopardy, so they decide to spice things up with a little minor bondage. Gerald takes things a little too far, then drops dead of a heart attack, leaving his poor wife handcuffed to the bed in a remote house with no possibility of rescue.

Flanagan and his co-writer Jeff Howard found a rather interesting way to keep a story that takes place largely inside the mind of a character that can’t really move visually interesting, which is no small feat in and of itself. Instead of the voices in Jessie’s mind being disembodied, Flanagan gives them human form. When she projects the insecurities she associates with her husband, it is Bruce Greenwood pacing around the room engaging her in conversation. When she’s having a weak moment, her strong inner voice is Jessie herself, free of the cuffs, healthy and filled with encouraged determination.

Combine that with a quick pace, a dynamic visual style and some career-best performances and suddenly this impossible-to-adapt story seems very possible. It just took a studio like Netflix to trust a smart, burgeoning genre filmmaker like Flanagan.

Gerald's Game trailer

With the characters on-point, the only thing Flanagan had to make sure worked 100% was the subtext of the movie. On the surface, Gerald’s Game mostly resembles Misery, with its protagonist stuck in bed the whole the time, but it’s much more of a companion piece to Dolores Claiborne thematically. There are obvious parallels (both stories feature eclipses and sexual assault), but on a deeper level, both stories are about how buried secrets never stay buried. These secrets and rot you from the inside and have ripple effects that change your life without you being aware of it.

In Gerald’s Game, so much about Jessie’s determination to survive is rooted in her own healing. She has to face these secrets and if she does so, she’ll find the key to her salvation. Flanagan clearly knows this. He uses subtle visual imagery to signal this deeper meaning (keep an eye on the sky in the final shot) while not forgetting to make the movie a fun time.

The film isn’t perfect. The pacing is so quick that you don’t get the same sense of impending dread and doom for Jessie that you do in the book. That means the resolution seems a little unearned and anti-climactic and there’s a coda that so neatly wraps up everything up in such a dialogue-heavy way that it all comes across as lazy compared to what came before.

Despite that stumble at the end, I still found Gerald’s Game to be incredibly involving and squirm-inducing. There was one moment in particular that I am so glad I got to experience with an audience. That’s the one downside of Netflix making everything these days: you don’t get that communal experience of seeing something scary or funny or intense with an audience. Watching my entire row try to twist out of their seats during one particularly horrifying moment and hearing the wave of vocal reactions from the packed theater made this an experience far beyond what I could have gotten at home.

But Netflix has the money and the corporate will to finance things most studios will not, so they will continue to draw in interesting filmmakers wanting to make interesting projects. Quite frankly, it’s hard to imagine Gerald’s Game getting made anywhere else in 2017.

Continue Reading Welcome to the Stephen King Movie Renaissance >>

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Ever wondered how prank calling would work on ‘Game of Thrones’? ‘The Simpsons’ has the answer

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Everyone is obsessed with Game of Thrones these days — even the The Simpsons. America’s favorite TV family is paying homage to the HBO hit in the Season 29 premiere, “The Serfsons,” and we’ve got an exclusive sneak peek at the episode.

After almost 30 years on air, long-suffering bartender Moe Szyslak has had to endure countless prank calls from Bart Simpson — but how would Bart get his laughs if phones didn’t exist? Our clip has the answer, and let’s just say Samwell Tarly wouldn’t approve.

The Game of Thrones-themed premiere also features the vocal talents of one of fantasy series’ stars, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (aka Jaime Lannister), in a role that Simpsons executive producer Matt Selman describes as “a character not unlike Jaime. He has a surprising and sexy connection to one of the main characters.” Read more…

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An indie game that aims to preserve an indigenous culture and its mythology

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In recent years, a unique relationship has developed between the world’s most ancient cultures and the newest forms of storytelling. 

Games like Upper One Games Never Alone, for example, popularized the trend by working alongside the native Alaskan Iñupiaq people to preserve and bring global attention to their culture’s stories. 

Mulaka, an indie game from Mexico-based studio Lienzo, is the latest to join this digital preservation effort. A 3D action-adventure puzzle game, it centers around the Tarahumara indigenous culture that live alongside them in Chihuahua, Mexico.

“The initial inspiration for the game began from us just learning more about the Tarahumara culture — reading their amazing legends and myths. And we really fell in love with them,” said writer and programmer Guillermo Vizcaíno when we recently met up at PAX West to play a demo of the game at the Indie Megabooth.  Read more…

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Fantastic Fest Review: Superb Stephen King Adaptation ‘Gerald’s Game’

Gerald's Game Review

Sometimes when transferring a novel to a film, the best way to go is a straight, no-frills adaptation. The author has said all that needs to be said on the subject, and the job the filmmaker undertakes is simply bringing that source material to life through visual representation. With so many adaptations of the works of Stephen King already made – and many more just on the horizon – it’s refreshing to see a film based on his works sticking so closely to the book. Enter Gerald’s Game, based on the 1992 novel, directed by Oculus and Hush director Mike Flanagan. A streamlined adaptation, the film hits with surprising intensity and delivers ample amounts of atmosphere and scares. It also boasts a career-best performance from Carla Gugino, who aids in raising Gerald’s Game to the levels of some of the very best Stephen King adaptations. ›››

Continue reading Fantastic Fest Review: Superb Stephen King Adaptation ‘Gerald’s Game’


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Watch: Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ Live-Action Trailer for ‘Destiny 2’ Game

Destiny 2 Trailer

“It’s time to bring out the big guns.” Time for something a bit different than the movie trailers we normally see, but still totally fun. Filmmaker Jordan Vogt-Roberts (director of Kong: Skull Island and The Kings of Summer) has made a live-action trailer for the new video game Destiny 2 from Bungie. Sometimes we’ll post one of these game trailers because it’s live-action and because it’s directed by a talented filmmaker who usually makes movies. That’s certainly the case with this, and it’s a very amusing trailer set to Beastie Boys “Sabotage”. Vogt-Roberts has also been posting some behind-the-scenes footage and photos on his Twitter recently, to give us an inside look at the process of making this trailer. If you want to pick up a copy of the video game, it’s already available now. Fire it up. And then back to our regularly scheduled movie coverage. ›››

Continue reading Watch: Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ Live-Action Trailer for ‘Destiny 2’ Game


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No ‘Game of Thrones’ pay gap: Kit Harington, Lena Headey make the same

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The Iron Bank is equally generous to kings and queens.

Game of Thrones principal cast members Kit Harington (Jon Snow) and Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister) are making exactly the same per-episode salaries and bonuses, and have been since at least the beginning of this season, according to leaked documents sent to Mashable that purport to be the actors’ contracts covering Seasons 7 and 8.

Harington and Headey are the only principal actors whose contracts appear to be in the document dump from Friday, the sixth wave of files the HBO hackers have released since late July. Their contracts contain practically identical language — including a clause stating that no cast member can be paid more. Read more…

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