Sam Flynn’s 7: The Week in Pop Culture – May 16-22

The week is long and hard, that’s why every Friday, you can relax and catch up on everything you need to know in Hollywood and beyond with Sam Flynn’s 7, my breakdown and analysis of the week in film and TV.

7. El Mayimbe stuffs

If you’re at all into online entertainment journalism like I am, certain names become familiar: Harry Knowles of AintItCool News, Drew McWeeny of HitFix, Jeff Sneider of TheWrap, Steve “Frosty” Weintraub of Collider, Devin Faraci of Birth.Movies.Death etc. But famous most of all for his inside scoops is El Mayimbe a.k.a. Umberto Gonzalez, formerly of Latino Review. Gonzalez announced this year he would be striking out on his own and recently revealed his brand-new site Heroic Hollywood.

But in a reminder of the bitter, petty nature of Hollywood, news spread earlier this week when Gonzalez was refused from an Entourage press event because, according to Gonzalez, an angry publicist who blamed him for the IMAX trailer for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice leak.

In response, Gonzalez dropped details of Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman on the Schmoes Know podcast and then on his Instagram.

Gonzalez has been dropping a steady stream of promo and concept art from BvS, including the titular showdown between the heroes, and better shots of Wonder Woman complete with cape, sword, and shield. Check out his Instagram for those.

6. The Magnificent Seven casting saga continues

Enter one villain, exit another. Peter Sarsgaard will play the main villain Bartholomew Bogue in director Antoine Fuqua’s remake of the classic western, itself a remake of the Japanese film Seven Samurai. Bogue runs roughshod over female lead Haley Bennett’s town and kills her husband (Matt Bomer). She turns to the titular seven gunslingers to protect the townsfolk and drive the robber baron Bogue from town. Our new Magnificent Seven are:

  • Denzel Washington
  • Chris Pratt
  • Ethan Hawke
  • Vincent D’Onofrio
  • Byung-hun Lee
  • Wagner Moura
  • and Luke Grimes

However, Sarsgaard needs to hire a new hechman, because Deadline reports Jason Momoa of Game of Thrones fame (and future Aquaman fame) has exited the role due to a complaint that can be basically summarized by “I’m bigger than this.” Momoa apparently did not like how few lines his character had. Even if its a made-up language like Dothraki, you do NOT give Momoa nothing to say. Common sense. Whether the role will be re-cast remains to be seen as filming should be commencing any day now for a January 13, 2017 release.

I don’t know what it is about a) this concept and b) films where seven characters get picked off one by one. Both constantly have my interest. Speaking of my favorites, Tom Cruise was previously attached to lead the film before frequent collaborators Fuqua and Washington came abroad. It reignited my interest in a long-ago film project, an adaptation of Robert Ludlum’s The Matarese Circle. At the time, David Cronenberg was going to direct Cruise and Washington as spies on opposite sides of a conflict. Say it with me: Fuck. Yes.

5. Simon Pegg spits Internet fire

Simon Pegg is a god among geeks. An effusive Star Wars fanatic who embodies the Internet’s distaste for the prequels, he has won fans with his original British TV comedies like Spaced and the “Cornetto Ice Cream” sci-fi trilogy with director Edgar Wright, his roles in blockbusters like Star Trek and Mission: Impossible, and generally being a fanboy among celebrities.

Which is why the a large portion of the Internet seemed to feel like he spat in their eye when comments he made in an interview to The Radio Times were picked up by The Guardian.

“Before Star Wars, the films that were box-office hits were The Godfather, Taxi Driver, Bonnie and Clyde and The French Connection – gritty, amoral art movies. Then suddenly the onus switched over to spectacle and everything changed

Now, I don’t know if that is a good thing. Obviously I’m very much a self-confessed fan of science fiction and genre cinema but part of me looks at society as it is now and just thinks we’ve been infantilised by our own taste.Now we’re essentially all consuming very childish things – comic books, superheroes. Adults are watching this stuff, and taking it seriously.

It is a kind of dumbing down, in a way, because it’s taking our focus away from real-world issues. Films used to be about challenging, emotional journeys or moral questions that might make you walk away and re-evaluate how you felt about … whatever. Now we’re walking out of the cinema really not thinking about anything, other than the fact that the Hulk just had a fight with a robot.”

“Sometimes (I) feel like I miss grown-up things. And I honestly thought the other day that I’m gonna retire from geekdom. I’ve become the poster child for that generation, and it’s not necessarily something I particularly want to be. I’d quite like to go off and do some serious acting.”

Because the Internet can’t stop picking apart everything on a daily basis, this inspired much defensiveness for the sake of clicks and column space, like a reactionary piece from io9. For his part, Pegg replied with a lengthy essay on his official website and blog Peggster, titled “Big Mouth Strikes Again.” The whole piece is well-worth a read. Here’s a small excerpt:

The ‘dumbing down’ comment came off as a huge generalisation by an A-grade asshorn. I did not mean that science fiction or fantasy are dumb, far from it. How could I say that? In the words of Han Solo, “Hey, it’s me!” In the last two weeks, I have seen two brilliant exponents of the genre. Ex Machina and Mad Max: Fury Road, both of which had my head spinning in different and wonderful ways and are both very grown up films (although Max has a youthful exuberance which is nothing’s short of joyous, thanks George Miller, 70) I’ve yet to see Tomorrowland but with Brad Bird at the helm, it cannot be anything but a hugely entertaining think piece.

Sadly, Simon, Tomorrowland does not seem to be such a piece. According to The Guardian, Pegg also said Paramount was really looking to hit the economic stratosphere by making Star Trek Beyond (which Pegg confirmed to be the title of the next year’s third Star Trek film he is co-writing with Doug Jung) by going where no Star Trek film has gone before: billion-dollar grosses.

“They had a script for Star Trek that wasn’t really working for them. I think the studio was worried that it might have been a little bit too Star Trek-y.

Avengers Assemble, which is a pretty nerdy, comic-book, supposedly niche thing, made $1.5 billion dollars. Star Trek: Into Darkness made half a billion, which is still brilliant. But it means that, according to the studio, there’s still $1 billion worth of box office that don’t go and see Star Trek. And they want to know why.

People don’t see it being a fun, brightly colored, Saturday night entertainment like the Avengers,” adding that the solution was to “make a western or a thriller or a heist movie, then populate that with Star Trek characters so it’s more inclusive to an audience that might be a little bit reticent.”

4. Lynch returns to Twin Peaks revival!

David Lynch gave the world a heart attack when he tweeted in April he would be departing Showtime’s 9-episode Twin Peaks revival. Then he resuscitated it via electroshock last weekend when he tweeted that the negotiating in the press worked . . . er, his departure was premature.


He will indeed return to direct all the new installments. with a statement by Showtime President David Nevins implying more than the original nine hours. the language seems to imply some episodes will be elongated a la the shows produced for Netflix. Likely an extended premiere and finale. The scripts, co-written with co-creator Mark Frost, have already been written with production set to begin this year for a debut sometime next.

“This damn fine cup of coffee from Mark and David tastes more delicious than ever. Totally worth the extra brewing time and the cup is even bigger than we expected. David will direct the whole thing which will total more than the originally announced nine hours. Preproduction starts now!!”

3. First Warcraft pics reveal mo-cap Orc lead

Motion-capture is a growing frontier thanks to Andy Serkis who’s role as Caesar in the Planet of the Apes reboot series is consistently brought up in the Oscar debate. Mark Ruffalo praised the process for allowing him to more inhabit the Hulk fully in Avengers: Age of Ultron (my review here).

Now it looks like Warcraft, next year’s adaptation of the popular online video game World of Warcraft, will be taking Serkis’ art to new heights, with the first images of the main Orc lead Orgrim Doomhammer, played with motion-capture by Robert Kazinsky of “True Blood” and Pacific Rim fame (his show The Frankenstein Code was recently picked up to series by FOX).

Speaking about the character with Wired magazine, direction Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code) says:

“We were looking for someone who would be able to perform the gruffness, the humor, and the toughness of this character. We’ve gone beyond the point where these are just creatures in movies. We now have the technology and the ability to make new characters entirely.”

Jones’ third movie finished filming last year, but has been in an intense post-production to create the photo-real characters like Orgrimand his fellow Orcs. The film tells the origin of the human and orc war and is unique in portraying each side as flawed and at fault for the inevitable conflict between the races. It’s set to debut June 10, 2016.

2. Transformers writer ‘brain trust’ assembled

Paramount, a studio with the least amount of marquee franchises, is desperately mining its existing properties and thus the whoredom of the Transformers franchise kicks into overdrive. Akiva Goldsman was tasked with assembling the unfortunate group of writers who will be inevitably hamstrung by the demands of inane studio execs and the Bay Man himself Michael Bay (currently off making his Pearl Harbor (2001) version of the Benghazi incident 13 Hours). And the list . . . is surprisingly stacked.

Goldsman’s superwriter team will consist of “Lost” writer and “Fringe” showrunner Jeff Pinkner, Iron Man co-writers Art Marcum and Matt Holloway, The Incredible Hulk scribe Zak Penn, and, for some strange reason, “The Walking Dead” creator Robert Kirkman.

I can’t imagine Kirkman doesn’t have his hands full for writing his comic, advising the TV adaptation, creating the upcoming TV spinoff “Fear the Walking Dead,” and launching his new Cinemax exorcism series “Outcast.” Why he would even want to take time out to be a pawn in a scheme to milk the Transformers brand? Did a Transformer save him from drowning as a kid?


  • The Accountant, Gavin O’Connor-directed, Ben Affleck-as-a-secret-assassin film starring Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal, and John Lithgow will hit January 29, 2016, oppose The Finest Hours, the coast guard drama starring the other Affleck, younger brother Casey.
  • Arms and the Dudes, from Todd Phillips (The Hangover trilogy), is based on a true story and stars Miles Teller and Jonah Hill as pot-smoking college students who inadvertently become major arms dealers. The film will hit March 11, 2016.
  • Project XX, a sequel to the 2012 found footage comedy Project X (which was produced by Phillips and starred Teller), will arrive August 13, 2016.
  • My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, the sequel to the 2002 indie hit, will face Batman and Superman’s Dawn of Justice on March 25, 2016
  • World War Z 2, the sequel to 2013’s zombie blockbuster, has set a June 9, 2017 release date. Brad Pitt returns to star with J.A. Bayona and Steven Knight taking over as director and writer respectively. Knight previously said they were starting with a “clean slate.” Who knows? Maybe they’ll try adapting the actual book this time.

About Sam Flynn

Wasting oxygen since 1992, Sam thanks the gods he doesn't believe in everyday his parents didn't discard him as an infant. It would have been the sensible thing to do.
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