Take 2

Tamara Dunn is a card-carrying cinephile and the assistant city editor at the Standard-Speaker. Her writings here have earned her a Pennsylvania Women’s Press Association award in 2017. Her favorite films are “Bringing Up Baby” and “Moonlight.”

Rebecca Kivak considers herself a representative of the average filmgoer. She is also a copy editor for The Times-Tribune. Her favorite films are “The Illusionist” and “The Avengers.”

Award Chase: Let’s have a little fun

Award Chase: Let’s have a little fun

Each Wednesday through the week of the 2019 Academy Award nominations on Jan. 22, Take 2 is handicapping the Oscar rush with The Award Chase.

There are nearly six weeks left before the Oscar nominations are announced, and in the last six days, the Award Chase has been sent topsy-turvy thanks to the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild picks. The car is in the shop and needs time for repairs. You may need some help, too.

Have you even seen any of the contenders? Do you know what you want to see next? Is awards season ever going to end?

This is the Chase’s ninth week, and so to change the mood, we’ve created a personality quiz with the help of PlayBuzz to pick out an Oscar contender you should watch next. You also get to pick out a nice brunch for yourself.

Click here for the quiz and give it a shot.

Trailer Talk: Finally, an “Avengers 4” trailer!

Trailer Talk: Finally, an “Avengers 4” trailer!

Chris Evans stars as Captain America in “Avengers: Endgame.”

Marvel Studios set the internet buzzing this week with new trailers for “Avengers 4” and “Captain Marvel,” and a trailer for “Spider-Man: Far From Home” expected to drop Saturday.

After waiting nearly seven months since the devastating events of “Avengers: Infinity War,” let’s take a deep dive into the much anticipated trailer for “Avengers 4,” whose title was also finally revealed today via the trailer. Marvel also announced that the film’s release date is being moved up a week. (WARNING: Spoilers for “Avengers: Infinity War” ahead.”

“Avengers: Endgame”

“We’re in the endgame now,” Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) says before fading away to dust after Thanos’ (Josh Brolin) infamous snap in “Avengers: Infinity War.” And it’s where Earth’s mightiest heroes find themselves in “Avengers: Endgame.” The trailer doesn’t tell us many specifics about the movie’s plot, but it establishes a grim tone as the Marvel Cinematic Universe ties together a decade of storytelling.

After losing half of the population – and each other – in what is now being called the Decimation, the remaining Avengers must carry on as they search for a way to set the universe right and defeat the Mad Titan once and for all. The whole trailer is permeated by grief.

Stranded on a desolate Titan where he saw Spider-Man (Tom Holland) and most of the Guardians of the Galaxy die before his very eyes, Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) hijacks a capsule to try and hightail it back to Earth. But he knows his prospects are bleak as he’s run out of food and only has a day of oxygen left. In the trailer’s emotional beginning, Tony uses his Iron Man helmet to call his fiancee Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) to express his love and dire odds in what he believes will be his last phone call. It’s a touching reversal of the scene in “Iron Man 3” when he calls Pepper – who receives his message while wearing his Iron Man helmet – to tell her he’s not dead following the Mandarin’s attack on the Stark mansion.

Meanwhile, Thanos’ suit of armor is raised over Wakanda in a show of triumph as the Mad Titan walks peacefully among the fields, savoring his victory. His daughter, Nebula (Karen Gillan) – on the Avengers’ side in “Infinity War” – mourns the loss of her once estranged sister, Gamora (Zoe Saldana). Thor (Chris Hemsworth), still reeling from the loss of his home world, Asgard, and most of its people, is now mourning many of his fellow Avengers, too.

But Captain America (Chris Evans) and Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson) are working feverishly on Earth on a plan to undo Thanos’ damage and bring back their fellow Avengers. This isn’t the first time Cap has experienced loss, as the photo he keeps of Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) in his compass shows. But while he may have lost Peggy for good, he’s not going to lose anyone else – not if he can help it.

“We lost, all of us. We lost friends, we lost family, we lost a part of ourselves,” Steve says in voiceover, with tears streaming down his face. “This is the fight of our lives,”

“This is going to work, Steve,” Black Widow assures him.

“I know it is – ‘cuz I don’t know what I’m going to do if it doesn’t,” says Steve, with fierce determination in his eyes.

The trailer also gives us more clues as to who may – and who may not – have survived the Decimation. Bruce Banner/The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) is taking stock of the presumed dead and missing. We see images of Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), who was trapped in the Quantum Realm at the end of “Ant-Man and the Wasp”; as well as Shuri (Letitia Wright) – wait what?!? – the Wakandan princess whose brother, T’Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), was a victim of the Snap; and Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland), whose wrenching death I’m still not over.

But an Avenger who was conspicuously missing from “Infinity War” makes a dramatic return. Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), who struck a plea deal with the government after the events of “Captain America: Civil War,” trades in his bow and arrow for a samurai sword as Ronin, an identity worn by many superheroes in Marvel Comics. Being that we see Ronin right when Cap’s voiceover says “we lost family,” it’s a good bet that Clint tragically lost most or all of his family in the Decimation, leading him to take over the mantle of Ronin.

As dark as the trailer is, all hope is not lost. In what feels like a post-credits scene for Marvel’s own movies, Scott Lang shows up at the end of the “Endgame” trailer on Black Widow and Cap’s doorstep, offering his help. How did Ant-Man get out of the Quantum Realm? What did he learn that may help them defeat Thanos?

How will the Avengers restore the galaxy to its proper order and fight Thanos in the ultimate showdown? We’ll have to wait until April 26, 2019, to find out, when “Avengers: Endgame” invades theaters.

STAY TUNED: Be sure to visit Take 2 on Sunday, where I will run down my observations from the “Captain Marvel” trailer released earlier this week.






Holiday gift guide for movie lovers

Holiday gift guide for movie lovers

It’s the holiday season, and on your list of lovely friends and family, there may be a cinephile among them. If you’re having trouble trying to figure out what to get that movie lover, here are suggestions – with gifts fitting every budget – that can help.

A24 x Joya Genre Candles ($48 for one, $120 for three)

Have you ever wondered what horror smells like? According to movie studio A24, the studio behind “The Witch” and “Hereditary,” it’s a mixture of clove leaf, cypress, suede and cinnamon bark. It’s one of the six scents in its soy-mix candle collection with Joya, a Brooklyn, New York-based candlemaker and fragrance studio. Other inspired scents include thriller, musical, adventure, noir and western.

Classic lapel pins ($12 for one)

If you know a movie fan with a denim jacket or vest or they work at TGI Fridays and miss the days of sporting flair, a classic film lapel pin from Kate Gabrielle may be the perfect accessory. There are pins for fans of Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, French New Wave directors and film noir. If this year’s “Jurassic World” sequel was a hit in your household, maybe an old-school “Jurassic Park” pin will do the trick. There’s also a bonus if you need to get multiples. Put four or more pins in your cart and get one of them for free with the promo code YAYFLAIR.

Room to Dream” by David Lynch and Kristine McKenna ($13.99 on Amazon Kindle)

Avant -garde film director and showrunner David Lynch and journalist Kristine McKenna present a memoir of the artist in an unpredictable way. McKenna gives the straight-to-the-point pieces of Lynch’s life and career while Lynch responds in his nonlinear, unconventional way. This book is great for any cinephile and fans of his work like “Twin Peaks,” “The Elephant Man” and “Mulholland Dr.”

Nicholas Cage nail decals ($7.50)

Punk rock black nails are so yesterday. Half-moon and French manicures are over and done with. You need to get the nail art lover on your list these Nicholas Cage nail decals by Love by Luna. Featuring different Cage expressions, the decals add style to light to white polished nails that work well with short and long length.

Aviation Gin ($23.99)

Movie star Ryan Reynolds may be best known for his wisecracking role in the “Deadpool” series, but he takes the liquor business very seriously. In February, Reynolds purchased Aviation Gin, the world’s highest rated gin, joining other celebrities like George Clooney, Francis Ford Coppola and Brad Pitt and Angelica Jolie in the wine and spirits business. Fans of the late summer hit “A Simple Favor” may want to make the martinis Anna Kendrick and Reynolds’ real-life wife Blake Lively enjoyed in the film. Pick up a copy on the DVD, available Dec. 18, perhaps pick up a martini set and make a nice gift basket for your BFF.

Shudder gift subscription ($4.99 monthly, $47.88 yearly subscription)

For the horror/suspense/thriller fans, there’s a streaming service just for them. Even if the person or family on your list has Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime, Shudder carries many exclusive titles like “Mandy,” “Wolf Creek” and “Prevenge” and curated collections from the masters of suspense and horror like Dario Argento, Alfred Hitchcock and Stephen King.

Popcorn on the Cob ($17), You’ve Been Naughty Popcorn Coal ($10) and Popcorn Seasoning set ($30)

My love for popcorn is well known (at least to the concession workers at our neighborhood cinemaplexes), but as much as I like the stuff at the theater, I prefer to homestyle stuff. And nothing is more homestyle than these selections from Uncommon Goods. For those who still use their microwaves, the Popcorn on the Cob kit includes 10 cobs and 10 craft paper bags that allows the eater to season and butter the cob to their liking, set for 2 to 3 minutes and enjoy a snack that is least factory-tasting. For the naughty folks or coal country enthusiasts, You’ve Been Naughty Popcorn Coal is sack of black popcorn kernels ready for your popcorn popper. The popped result will have a gray hue with black centers, but the taste is a bit nutty (think blue tortilla chips). The Popcorn Seasoning set for the foodie on the list and anyone who likes the healthiness of popcorn without the kill-the-diet characteristics of butter.

Return to Michael B. Jordan T-shirt ($30)

Actor Michael B. Jordan is having an amazing year, starring in two blockbusters “Black Panther” and “Creed II.” And chances are high that you may have a MBJ fan on your list or you may know of a certain movie blogger based in Northeast Pennsylvania who would very much like to be in the superstar’s presence (wink, wink). Do them a favor and purchase this T-shirts from Izzy & Liv that’s available in ladies’ fit and plus size. There also are similar shirts for Chadwick Boseman and Idris Elba fans (still something in my eye, wink).

LED multicolor light strip ($5)

Give the television set an additional glow with a 3-foot-long Vibe LED light strip available at Five Below. The strip will give the flatscreen set a backlight that’s fine if your set is on a stand or on the wall. A remote controls the effects and 15 colors of your light show are available. For large sets, you may need two strips.

Jeff Goldblum and the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra, “The Capitol Studios Sessions” ($13-$33)

It’s an album for hip cats and movie fans from the Big Zaddy himself. Jeff Goldblum plays jazz piano on his debut album that’s available on CD and vinyl (for the hipsters and those who cherish jazz). Recorded live, the album features appearances by noted jazz vocalists like Irish singer Imelda May and nonvocalists like Sarah Silverman. Goldblum’s piano skills are not the star of the show, but his playing finds a way (no pun intended) to work with the group of skill studio players that accompany him.

Award Chase: What are we missing?

Award Chase: What are we missing?

Each Wednesday through the week of the 2019 Academy Award nominations on Jan. 22, Take 2 is handicapping the Oscar rush with The Award Chase.

Awards season is beginning to shape up with the top 10 selections from the American Film Institute and the National Board of Review, the recent Gotham Awards and the Film Independent Spirit Award nominations. Thursday is the day the Golden Globe nominations are announced, and although there is no overlap between the Globes and the Academy, the awards still hold weight.

And while several frontrunners have already made waves, there are some performances and films that have not been celebrated by insiders and the nauseating roundtables and specials, but have been recognized by organizations as mentioned above.

Best Picture

Eyeing: “A Star is Born”

Not seeing: “Mary Poppins Returns”

The fourth version of a new singer emerging from a veteran’s shadow has been applauded by critics and audiences alike with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga beating expectations. Another revived title is moving up the race. “Mary Poppins Returns,” with Emily Blunt flying into Julie Andrews’ role, was considered to be just a holiday heartwarmer with Disney reviving a family favorite. However, following its premiere earlier this month, insiders were amazed by the storyline, effects and acting.

Best Actor

Eyeing: Ryan Gosling, “First Man”

Not seeing: Steven Yuen, “Burning”

Before “First Man” premiered at the Venice Film Festival, Ryan Gosling was already on Oscar experts’ early ballots for his performance as Neil Armstrong. Under the guidance of “La La Land” director Damien Chazelle, Gosling was under the right formula for awards gold again. But “First Man” was a box-office bust and slightly marred by controversy. Steven Yuen, in his post-The Walking Dead” career, takes a starring turn in “Burning,” from acclaimed South Korean director Chang-dong Lee. In the thriller, Yuen plays a mysterious but rich visitor who changes the lives of two friends.

Best Actress

Eyeing: Nicole Kidman, “Destroyer”

Not seeing: Regina Hall, “Support the Girls”

Nicole Kidman goes without makeup, dons a messy wig and gets rough in “Destroyer.” Roles in which classic beauties look ugly are automatic awards bait, but Kidman hasn’t pick up the recognition. Arriving unexpectedly is Regina Hall, who plays the manager of a so-called “breastaurant,” in “Support the Girls.” The summer indie arrived in theaters (except in Northeast Pennsylvania) and exited quickly, but the National Board of Review and the New York Film Critics Circle gave her their best actress awards. She’s the first black woman to ever win the NBR honor, and she is also up for best female lead at the Film Independent Spirit Awards.

Best Supporting Actor

Eyeing: Nicholas Hoult, “The Favourite”

Not seeing: Josh Hamilton, “Eighth Grade”

The Favourite” has been a red-hot title ever since its female leads – Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone – were cast last year. However, the acclaim has slightly touched one of the film’s supporting actors, Nicholas Hoult. Over the weekend, the film won a record 10 awards at the British Independent Film Awards but not one for Hoult. One actor who is enjoying the success of his film is Josh Hamilton. The former “Madam Secretary” star appears in the indie darling, “Eighth Grade,” as the single father to a 14-year-old girl who is struggling through her final week in middle school. It’s an understated role, but Hamilton brings a level of warmth that is award-worthy.

Best Supporting Actress

Eyeing: Amy Adams,“Vice”

Not seeing: Michelle Yeoh, “Crazy Rich Asians”

Five-time Oscar nominee Amy Adams is already on her way to a sixth nomination as Lynne Cheney in “Vice.” The political biopic has Christian Bale and Sam Rockwell as other locks for nominations as well. “Crazy Rich Asians” was a box office hit this summer and may be in the running for best picture. But if it is to earn an acting nomination out of its stellar cast, it will most likely from veteran Michelle Yeoh as the controlling matriarch. She has hit nearly every networking event this season promoting the romantic comedy and has a good chance to make the field.

Best Director

Eyeing: Damien Chazelle, “First Man”

Not eyeing: Marielle Heller, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Like Gosling, Damien Chazelle looked prime to get another nomination. After becoming the youngest best director winner, whatever project Chazelle had next was instant gold-in-the-making. But with “First Man” doing poorly in the box office, his star has dimmed a bit. Marielle Heller, who previously directed the acclaimed indie “The Diary of a Teenage Girl,” is getting attention for her sophomore effect, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” Based on a true story, the film about a forger features a rare dramatic turn for Melissa McCartney in the lead role. McCartney and co-star Richard E. Grant have been a mainstay on predicted Oscar ballots, but the National Board of Review surprised many by selecting the film in its top movies list. It opens the door for Heller to score a directing nomination. This year marks a stellar display for female directors like Lynn Ramsey, Tamara Jenkins and Debra Granik.

Award Chase: The four-legged contender

Award Chase: The four-legged contender

Each Wednesday through the week of the 2019 Academy Award nominations on Jan. 22, Take 2 is handicapping the Oscar rush with The Award Chase.

This week’s Award Chase is going to the dogs.

With so much written about potential best picture and acting nominations that man’s best friend gets lost in the shuffle. It’s not that every awards season has a canine or two that shines on the screen for more than a moment, but there is one four-legged friend that is certainly a movie star.

Viola Davis and Olivia in “Widows.”

Meet Olivia, a 3-year-old Westie that steals nearly every scene she appears in the white-hot drama, “Widows.” In the film, Olivia, who goes by her real name here, belongs to Veronica (Viola Davis), a lobbyist for the teachers’ union whose husband, Harry (Liam Neeson) is killed during a heist gone wrong. Olivia is Veronica’s steady companion as her mistress mourns the loss of her husband and must figure out a way to pay back the men he ripped off.

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#Repost @violadavis: My baby Olivia! #WidowsMovie #BTS

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Olivia remembers how Harry smells like and has a remarkable reaction whenever she catches it. It comes up at suspenseful moments in the film that will not be spoiled here. Veronica also pampers the lovable pooch, sending her to upscale kernels when needed. Unfortunately, according to Internet Movie Database, Olivia is not credited for her role.

Jesse Plemmons and Olivia in “Game Night.”

Olivia is also a popular canine actor this year. The Westie made her film debut in a supporting role as Bastain in the comedy “Game Night.” In that movie, she belongs to Gary (Jesse Plemmons), a neighboring police officer whose wife recently left him. Olivia appears on one of the movie posters – quite a feat for a newbie.

Uggie is held by his trainer, Omar van Muller, during a ceremony before Uggie’s paw prints are immortalized in cement at the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre Monday morning on June 25, 2012, in Los Angeles, California. The day marks Uggie’s retirement from show business. (Arkasha Stevenson/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

Cosmos in “Beginners”

Dogs are memorable parts of films and at times they can mean Oscar gold for the picture. There can even be a showdown between two pups. During the 2011-12 awards season, two Jack Russell Terriers were dueling in Hollywood for parts, the red carpet and Academy fame. Uggie and Cosmo battled it out with their films, “The Artist” and “Beginners,” respectively. Uggie starred as Jack in the nearly silent 2011 film as the pet to George Valentin (Jean Dujardin), an aging silent film star during the fledgling era of sound. Cosmo played Arthur, a dog shared by father-and-son Hal (Christopher Plummer) and Oliver (Ewan McGregor). In fact, both canines were competing for the same “Beginners” job, but Cosmo won out.

Uggie, however, went on to win multiple acting awards giving to animals that season, and “The Artist” won five Oscars, including best picture and best actor for Dujardin. Uggie retired following the 2012 Oscars and was the first dog to have his pawprints preserved at the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Uggie died in 2013 at the age of 13 after a battle with prostate cancer. As for Cosmo, “Beginners” won the best supporting actor Oscar for Plummer.

Not every version of the Academy has been a dog fan. “The Wizard of Oz,” one of the most beloved films of all time, only won two Oscars – best original song and original score. Toto, played by Terry, was a Cairn Terrier who played in more than a dozen films before she died at the age of 11.

Other canines that propelled their movies to at least Academy Award nominations include the corgis in “The Queen,” Rex and Fly in “Babe,” Verdell in “As Good as it Gets” and Pippin in “Jaws.”

Will Olivia be among the famous pooches that’s a good luck charm for their film’s chances at Oscar gold? We’ll see in January.

Addendum: Instagram behind-the-scenes photo of Olivia with Viola Davis.

Review: “Widows”

Review: “Widows”

“Widows,” in theaters.

Much of “Widows,” director Steve McQueen’s latest release, has to do with lines. What lines are the characters willing to cross to survive, to get money or to secure power. Turning a blind eye to what is happening around you is not enough. You’re going to need help from all sides and that help may not be in the class, color or gender you would expect. Given that this is McQueen’s first popcorn movie, “Widows” is nothing like what you would think of a typical heist movie, and it’s all for the better.

This image released by 20th Century Fox shows, from left, Michelle Rodriguez, Viola Davis, and Elizabeth Debicki in a scene from “Widows.” (20th Century Fox via AP)

When their criminal husbands are killed on the job, the wives are left behind picking up the pieces. The women looked away from the gunshots and the stolen goods and enjoyed the small pleasures their husbands’ wrongdoings brought. Veronica (Viola Davis) enjoys living in a high-rise with her Westie, Olivia, outside of Chicago’s violent elements as her husband, Harry Rawlings (Liam Neeson), is the ringleader of a gang of thieves. Linda (Michelle Rodriguez) tries to hang on to her dress/quinceañera shop, but Carlos (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) gambles it away. And Alice (Elizabeth Debicki), without any skills or value of her own, is left with the black eye her spouse, Florek (Jon Bernthal), gave her.

This image released by 20th Century Fox shows Daniel Kaluuya, left, and Brian Tyree Henry in a scene from “Widows.” (20th Century Fox via AP)

Alone in their grief, the women face another threat – their husbands ripped off the wrong guy, Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry), who wants to be the first black alderman to represent the 18th ward. The political seat representing a mostly African-American population had been held for generations by an Irish-American family, with Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell) next in line for the post. Jamal’s strong arm is his brother, Jatemme (Daniel Kaluuya), an aggressive loose cannon. With the Mannings demanding $2 million from Veronica and the hot political climate, the women band together to perform Harry’s last job, going into the life of crime they were once blind to.

This image released by 20th Century Fox shows Michelle Rodriguez, left, and Elizabeth Debicki in a scene from “Widows.” (Suzanne Tenner/20th Century Fox via AP)

Teaming up with author/screenwriter Gillian Flynn, McQueen adapts the 1983 British miniseries of his youth into a two-hour snowglobe of the Windy City. He condenses everything from its violent reputation to its civic corruption and shakes it until the snowflakes land at the bottom. Veronica, Linda and Alice bring their backgrounds as sheltered women and become cinema’s most unlikely team of powerful women. Their time of mourning is short, and they don’t sit around waiting for someone to rescue them. While McQueen has made great female portraits before with Carey Mulligan in “Shame” and Lupita Nygong’o in “12 Years a Slave,” this is his first time placing women in the forefront. And what makes this unique that the trio, along with Cynthia Ervio as Belle, a late member of their girl gang, is that they are empowered through intersectional feminism – women of different races and personalities joining together to survive the toxic men who wish to destroy them. Their strengths are not exploited, they’re amplified.

As for the men, they are not cardboard, cartoonish characters that are just misogynists. Their layers of destructive thinking multiplies throughout the film. Jamal and Jack’s political feud and their lawbreaking are in open view, but no one does anything about it. Corruption in Chicago is so ingrained in this world that it’s in every air particle. Simple car ride through the 18th ward, where Jack is leaving from a campaign stop in a poor neighborhood to his mansion at the edge of the ward, sums up how much power means to Jack but not the ward.

This image released by 20th Century Fox shows Colin Farrell in a scene from “Widows.” (20th Century Fox via AP)

While this is McQueen’s most commercial offering, it still has many of his recurring elements. Frequent cinematographer Sean Bobbitt accomplishes much in the tight shots throughout the film, including the fantastic car scene and the heist. While there is usually a philosophical exchange between conflicting characters in his films, a trimmed version was reserved for Jack and his old-school politician/father Tom (Robert Duvall).

Davis brings her usual command of the scene to “Widows,’ finally finding a team that can execute a task and clean up their mistakes, unlike that crew of misfit law students on “How to Get Away with Murder.” Debicki gives a performance that is the opposite of the terrifying role she had in HBO’s “The Tale” earlier this year, showing her range as a supporting actress in this role. But the biggest surprise in this large ensemble of good actors is Kaluuya. In a short amount of screen time, Kaluuya’s sinister henchman commands every scene he is in, showing that his performances in “Get Out,” “Black Panther” and “Sicario” aren’t small wonders. “Widows” also shows that McQueen is comfortable with a large cast as he is with small ones like “Hunger” and “Shame” with frequent collaborator Michael Fassbender.

This image released by 20th Century Fox shows Robert Duvall in a scene from “Widows.” (20th Century Fox via AP)

Perhaps the biggest casting flaw is having Duvall and Farrell as father and son. Farrell’s accent is closer to his native Ireland than to being a sixth-generation Irish-American in Chicago. The pace of “Widows” is also very fast. With some many characters connected with each other, it was hard to keep up with some of the plot points.

“Widows” shows McQueen’s confidence in his craft and his ability to do bigger projects. It presents a different approach to heist films that should appear in other similar movies to come.

Four stars out of five.

Trailer Talk: “The Lion King” takes us back to our childhood, “LEGO Movie” sequel builds buzz

Trailer Talk: “The Lion King” takes us back to our childhood, “LEGO Movie” sequel builds buzz

“The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part”

“Trailer Talk” rounds up recently released trailers for upcoming and anticipated movies. 

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our Take 2 readers! With the holiday weekend upon us, many of you will not only be out shopping, but catching movies at your local cinema. There’s been a slew of new trailers released in advance of this weekend, many of which you’ll probably see before new releases like “Ralph Breaks the Internet.” Let’s dig in!

“The Lion King”  

It’s here! The first teaser for Disney’s live-action version of “The Lion King” faithfully recreates the opening sequence of the beloved 1994 animated classic. The blend of CGI and live action looks nothing short of breathtaking. As the familiar strains of “Circle of Life” play and Rafiki lifts up a young, apprehensive Simba, get ready to be transported back to your childhood.

Jon Favreau, who helmed the magnificent 2016 live-action adaptation of the “The Jungle Book,” looks like he’s done it again here. The film’s all-star cast includes Donald Glover as Simba, Beyonce as Nala, Seth Rogan as Pumbaa and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar. James Earl Jones returns from the original film to voice Mufasa.

“The Lion King” fulfills its destiny July 19, 2019.

“The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part”

After the smashing success of 2014’s “The LEGO Movie,” Chris Pratt and Elizabeth Banks return with a stacked voice cast in the humorous, self-aware sequel.

This time, in a “Mad Max: Fury Road”-type wasteland, Emmet and Wyldstyle must protect their town from invading LEGO DUPLO villains from outer space. Offering help is the heroic Rex Dangervest (also voiced by Pratt, who – also like Pratt’s character in the “Jurassic World” movies, is a raptor trainer. Hmmm …)

Tiffany Haddish, one of the busiest women working in Hollywood today, also joins the cast as Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi. She has the ability to shape-shift into different forms, much to LEGO Batman’s (Will Arnett) dismay.

Also, in honor of today being Black Friday – or “Brick Friday” – Warner Bros. is streaming the first “LEGO Movie” for free all day on its YouTube Channel. If you haven’t seen it or want to see it again, now is your chance!

“The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part” builds an audience Feb. 8, 2019.

“The Secret Life of Pets 2”

The sequel to Illumination’s hit 2016 cartoon “The Secret Life of Pets” explores more hijinks involving dogs Max and Duke, Chloe the cat and more, with their owners blissfully unaware.

The movie has ramped up anticipation by releasing not just one, but two trailers focusing on the film’s main characters: Max (with Patton Oswalt replacing Louis C.K. on voice duties) and Chloe (voiced by Lake Bell). The returning cast includes Eric Stonestreet and Kevin Hart.

“The Secret Life of Pets 2” walks into theaters June 7, 2019.

“Pokemon Detective Pikachu”

After a series of animated films, TV series, video games and the highly addictive “Pokemon Go,” the international Pokemon phenomenon finally gets its own live-action movie. In the trailer, the film seems to seamlessly blend the CGI Pokemon monsters with human characters, creating a magical world I’d love to see more of.

“Pokemon Detective Pikachu” focuses on Tim, a former Pokemon trainer (Justice Smith) searching for his missing father. At first reluctantly, he receives help from Detective Pikachu (voiced by Ryan Reynolds, the voice of “Deadpool”), who Tim can actually understand as saying more than just “Pika, pika.”

Reynolds is a great fit as the cute yellow, electrical Pokemon. Also get ready to see live-action versions of Charmander, Charizard, Bulbasaur, Jigglypuff, Psyduck, Mr. Mime (who I caught when I was in Ireland … I digress!), and more.

“Pokemon Detective Pikachu” will catch them all in theaters May 10, 2019.

“Toy Story 4”

Nine years after “Toy Story 3,” the fourth entry in Disney-Pixar’s much-loved “Toy Story” franchise brings back Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Jessie (Joan Cusack) and more in a brand new adventure.

The teaser trailer introduces a new toy, Forky (voiced by Tony Hale), who is added to the mix of toys now residing with Bonnie. After Forky joins the gang, they go on a road trip and discover just how big the world can be.

In addition to returning favorites, the film adds more stars to its top-name cast, including Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Key and Keanu Reeves.

“Toy Story 4” opens the toy box once again June 21, 2019.

How you can see “Aquaman” 6 days early in theaters

How you can see “Aquaman” 6 days early in theaters

Jason Momoa stars in “Aquaman.”

If you can’t wait to see “Aquaman” and more of Jason Momoa’s take on the underwater superhero, there’s good news.

Amazon Prime members will have exclusive access to early showings of the DC Extended Universe’s latest comic book film on Dec. 15 – six days before the movie opens in wide release in the U.S. – at participating theaters. The promotion also applies to customers who have opted in to Amazon Prime’s 30-day free trial period.

Under the promotion, Amazon Prime members can purchase up to 10 tickets for a 7 p.m. showing of “Aquaman” on Dec. 15 through the Atom Tickets website or app at over 1,000 Regal, AMC, ArcLight Cinema and National Amusement Theaters across the country. Moviegoers can even pre-order their food and concessions through Atom Tickets.

In Northeast Pennsylvania, Regal Stadium 14 & IMAX in Dickson City will be offering the Dec. 15 early showing of “Aquaman.” Be sure to scoop up your tickets now.

In tandem with the announcement, Warner Bros. released the final trailer for “Aquaman” earlier this week. The film, which also stars Amber Heard, Nicole Kidman, Willem Dafoe and Patrick Wilson, splashes into theaters Dec. 21.



Award Chase: Honorees and hopefuls

Award Chase: Honorees and hopefuls

Each Wednesday through the week of the 2019 Academy Award nominations on Jan. 22, Take 2 is handicapping the Oscar rush with The Award Chase.

In late 2009, the Academy held its inaugural Governors Awards, moving a long segment from its winter telecast to a full fall ceremony where Hollywood figures could pay tribute to legends receiving honorary statues. It has also become the go-to event for award hopefuls to brush elbows with Oscar heavyweights in one room. It’s also a chance for new Academy members to break into the group and mingle with veterans. Last Sunday was the 10th celebration with honorary Oscars for Cicely Tyson, Lalo Schifrin and Marvin Levy and the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award for Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall.

This year’s selections also made history. Tyson, who was previously nominated in 1973 for best actress in “Sounder,” is the first black woman to receive an honorary Academy Award, and Kennedy, known for co-founding Amblin Entertainment with her husband, Marshall, and Steven Spielberg and is now president of Lucasfilm, is the first woman to get the Thalberg Award. The Thalberg was last awarded in 2010 to Francis Ford Coppola. Schifrin is a celebrated composer whose best work includes the score for “Magnum Force,” “Bullitt” and “Dirty Harry.” Levy, who has spent decades promoting films for the top movie studios, is the first publicist to receive an honorary Oscar.

Actress Laura Dern, left, presents publicist Marvin Levy with an honorary Oscar at the 2018 Governors Awards at The Ray Dolby Ballroom on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Among the night’s presenters were Laura Dern and Tom Hanks for Levy, Spielberg and Matt Damon for Kennedy and Marshall, Kathy Bates and Clint Eastwood for Schifrin and Tyler Perry, Quincy Jones and Ava DuVernay for Tyson. Eastwood, who is among the award contenders for acting and directing in “The Mule,” starred in several movies scored by Schifrin. Jones, who was accompanied by his daughter, actor-director Rashida Jones, is the subject of the acclaimed Netflix documentary, “Quincy.”

Although the Governors Awards’ red carpet was toned down due to the California wildfires, the star power was still in high gear. While award arrivals are often more of a fashion show, the Governors Awards is the best showing for films, actors and directors that have a chance of earning a nomination.

Many actor-directors were among this year’s attendees, including Joel Edgerton (“Boy Erased”), John Krasinski (“A Quiet Place”), Jonah Hill (“Mid90s”) and Paul Dano (“Wildlife”). First-time directors Boots Riley (“Sorry to Bother You”) and Bo Burnham (“Eighth Grade”) and veterans Spike Lee (“BlacKkKlansman”), Tamara Jenkins (“Private Life”) and Steve McQueen (“Widows”) were also present.

Actors brought their A-game to the red carpet, reminding Academy members of their performances. Previous winners like Nicole Kidman (“Boy Erased,” “Destroyer”), Rachel Weisz (“The Favourite”), Emma Stone (“The Favourite”) and Mahershala Ali (“Green Book”) rubbed elbows with previous nominees like Viggo Mortensen (“Green Book”), Carey Mulligan (“Wildlife”), Hugh Jackman (“The Front Runner”) and Melissa McCarthy (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”).

Among the crowd of contenders hoping for their first nomination were Rami Malek (“Bohemian Rhapsody”), Lady Gaga (“A Star is Born”), Regina King (“If Beale Street Could Talk”) and Amandla Stenberg (“The Hate U Give”).

United fronts were in full force, too. Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o, Michael B. Jordan and Danai Gurira were on hand to represent “Black Panther.” Rosamund Pike and Jamie Dornan of “A Private War” posed for photos, and John David Washington and Topher Grace of “BlacKkKlansman” graced the red carpet. “Crazy Rich Asians” stars Constance Wu, Gemma Chan, Michelle Yeoh and Lisa Lu made joint appearances at the ceremony. A-list couple Krasinski and Emily Blunt promoted “A Quiet Place.”

Timothee Chalamet, left, hugs Armie Hammer as they arrive at the Governors Awards on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

But nights like the Governors Awards are not all work and no play. “Call Me By Your Name” co-stars Armie Hammer (“On the Basis of Sex”) and Timothee Chalamet (“Beautiful Boy”) playfully reunited on the red carpet.

Award Chase: On Display

Award Chase: On Display

Each Wednesday through the week of the 2019 Academy Award nominations on Jan. 22, Take 2 is handicapping the Oscar rush with The Award Chase.

It’s that time in the Award Chase that we look at the posters from the season’s contenders. From romance to profiles, posters sell the storyline and entice moviegoers to spend their money on the films. They take notes from well-done images of the past or create something new. This year, there is no underlying theme to them, but here at Take 2, we find some common threads. Here’s a look at some of the trends.

Just your type

In many cases, movies sell themselves according to star power and big names, but these are attracting audiences with their use of typography. “Mid90s” and “Eighth Grade” star relatively unknown, young actors in independent movies, both helmed by first-time directors. The large type draws in the viewer to look at an unfamiliar face and get to know the subject without having to know their name first. “Sorry to Bother You” and “Three Identical Strangers” use unconventional type to illustrate unconventional stories. The poster for the psychotic comedy starring Lakeith Stanfield already is already a preview to the craziness that is to come, while the yellow and poster image for the documentary previews the odd subject of triplets that were separated at birth and raised by three different families.

Lovers and friends

To sell a love story, whether it’s between boss and employer, parent and child, or actual lovers, it has to be believable. Instead of waiting for 10 minutes to pass in a movie, the poster establishes coupledom before the trailers are screened. For “If Beale Street Could Talk,” “Leave No Trace” and “A Star is Born,” a meeting of the foreheads is required to convey a loving connection. No kiss is required for these movies. In contrast, “Disobedience” features a kiss between the two leads, Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams, that is provocative and forbidden. And although Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen do not play lovers or family, the poster for “Green Book” confirms their unlikely friendship and places in society in this true story film. Steve Carell and Timothee Chalamet are seen together in an aged photo for “Beautiful Boy” in an image that shows happier times between father and son. The only couple not locked together is Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal in “Wildlife,” about a family uprooted by the husband’s need to first forest fires in Idaho. Their distance shows how far apart they are in their life choices.

All together now

If typography or just a couple is not enough, posters cram as many of its starting lineup on one sheet as possible. “Black Panther” continues the Marvel tradition of getting all the characters a spot. “Isle of Dogs” uses Japanese traditional design, emphasizing a vertical format to show off the many dogs and their human friend in the stop-animation feature. “Widows” and “Chappaquiddick” use panels to show off their all-star cast.

God complex and in profile

When star power exists, it’s easier to sell the movie with a single image. For “Colette,” “First Reformed,” “At Eternity’s Gate” and “The Mule,” the poster takes the face of an Oscar winner or a nominee and blows up the image. For the profile shots, there is more on an emphasis on the character the actor is reviving through their performance, as seen with Rami Malek’s Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody” and Emily Blunt’s Mary Poppins in “Mary Poppins Returns.” What’s different from the crowd is “Tully,” with Charlize Theron’s decorated face with the film’s name. However, she is not the title character.

A world turned upside down

There’s a disturbance in the neighborhood. Without saying what the movie is about, having a house that is flipped over on a poster means that it’s not your average family film. “Hereditary,” a horror film about evil lurking with three generations of one family, and “Thoroughbred,” about two best friends raised with good genes and money but are very off the mark, are examples of posters that say so much without having to hit the viewer with a cartoon-like hammer.

Front and center

Lastly, all that the character is about can be placed right in the middle. For “Old Man and the Gun” and “The Hate U Give,” the designers paid attention to what makes the character the center of attention. “Old Man” uses Robert Redford’s briefcase, his old-fashioned suit and his sense of urgency. “The Hate U Give” draws from the source material’s book cover, but it also recalls images of recent protests against police-related shootings. “BlacKkKlansman” uses controversial images, like a Klansman’s hood and a Black Power fist, and combines with the look of the 1970s with the leather jacket and an afro pick. All four things describe Ron Stallworth, the real-life black Colorado undercover police officer who brought down the Klan. “Boy Erased” features Lucas Hedges in prayer, a central theme of the true-story film on a young man whose family forcefully sends him to gay conversion camp. “A Private War” illustrates the perils a war journalist faces on the field, choosing not show Marie Colvin’s face with the eyepatch she was known for.