Stranger Things 2, Assassin’s Creed: Origins, and More – The Weekend Chill

Last Friday, Stephen King revealed in an interview that The Dark Tower TV series, which was initially supposed to be a prequel, would now be a complete reboot of the franchise. That’s understandable given the poor reception the film received earlier this year, and it’s a bit surprising that the people involved haven’t cancelled the plans altogether.

On Monday, CBS All Access ordered a second season for Star Trek: Discovery, which is currently six episodes into its first season. Executive producer Alex Kurtzman has said that it will not air before early 2019, given the various production troubles.

We also learnt that Justice League will be the shortest DC Extended Universe film yet, after its official runtime – at 2 hours and 1 minute – was confirmed on Monday by Manabyte. That’s two minutes shorter than last year’s dumpster-fire, Suicide Squad.

USA Today posted some new images and a behind-the-scenes video of Star Wars: The Last Jedi on Tuesday, showing director Rian Johnson’s excitement at being on a Star Wars set, a space horse we haven’t seen before, Snoke’s Grand Throne room, and Finn being joined by DJ (Benicio del Toro) and Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) on an undercover mission.

Venom, the Spider-Man spin-off began shooting this week, and Andy Serkis – who isn’t officially attached with the movie – told Yahoo in an interview that Tom Hardy would be playing the character in a mo-cap suit. The reason Serkis knows might have something to do with his performance capture studio, The Imaginarium, but there’s no official word from Sony or Imaginarium on any collaboration.

Logan director James Mangold is working on a X-23 spin-off centred around the young mutant Laura (Dafne Keen), who was terrific, in one of this year’s best superhero films. Mangold said it’s thanks to the success of Wonder Woman that the studio is considering a female-centric superhero film.

Netflix released a new trailer for its fantasy thriller Bright, starring Will Smith and Joel Edgerton as cops of distinct species – one human and one orc, respectively – who stumble onto a conspiracy involving fairies. The David Ayer-directed film is out December 22.

Vincent D’Onofrio will return as Wilson Fisk aka the villain Kingpin in the third season of Daredevil, according to Deadline. This only further confirms the “Born Again” storyline, where Fisk finds out the civilian identity of Matt Murdock. Daredevil season 3 doesn’t have a release date yet.

On Thursday, Vin Diesel revealed the return of director Justin Lin, and actress Jordana Brewster (Mia) to the Fast and Furious franchise, via a Facebook live-stream. Lin was responsible for the series’ resurrection of sorts with Fast Five, and his return is much needed given its lacklustre eighth outing earlier this year.

Later that day, Showtime announced that it had picked up The Kingkiller Chronicle – based on the books by Patrick Rothfuss – to series, which involves Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda as executive producer and music composer. John Rogers will serve as showrunner, for what is being billed as an origin story set a generation before the book’s events. A film and interactive games are also in development.

And lastly, Seth Rogen confirmed on Twitter that AMC had ordered a third season for Preacher, continuing the adventures of a super-powered preacher, his vampire friend, and his ex-girlfriend as they attempt to literally find God. The show will return in 2018.

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:

TV:
Stranger Things
The breakout hit of 2016 is back. Stranger Things 2 moves the story forward by a year to 1984, with the citizens of Hawkins, Indiana trying to get their lives back to normal. But with the anniversary of Will Byers’ abduction coming up, he’s having nightmarish visions of the Upside Down, which involve a new “shadow monster”, spotted in trailers.

Hawkins meanwhile has two new characters in Max (Sadie Sink), a tomboy who brings a new dynamic to the AV Club gang, and her step-brother Billy (Dacre Montgomery), who’s a bigger jock than Steve. Eleven is back in season two, though she spends much more time on her own this time around.

We had early access to the full season of nine episodes, and we loved most of what we saw. The show is much more action-packed than the first season, and it never feels padded or slowed down. And as always, there are tons of references to the 80s for that sweet nostalgia fix.

Stranger Things 2 Is Deserving of All the Love

How to access: Netflix
Time commitment: 7 hours and 30 minutes

At Home with Amy Sedaris
Amy Sedaris – the voice of Princess Carolyn in BoJack Horseman – headlines her own satirical show where she invites you into her home with a super-wide grin on her face, and then shows off terrible craft skills, be it necklaces full of decaying raisins, or popsicle sticks dipped in glue and hair, while packing in more punchlines than you can catch.

The show is partly inspired by her multiple books, including I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence (2008), and Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People (2010), both of which were co-written with her Strangers with Candy co-creator Paul Dinello, who also directs At Home with Amy Sedaris. The first season of 10 episodes will feature guests such as Rachel Dratch, Chris Elliott and Paul Giamatti.

Early reviews paint a favourable view of the new show, with Vox’s Caroline Framke saying: “As an overall package, At Home With Amy Sedaris is a gleeful hodgepodge of silly jokes, talk show satire, and bubbly innuendo delivered with the gusto of a host who refuses to have anything less than an amazing time. It’s fun, it’s wacky, it’s everything Sedaris does best in one Technicolor package.”

How to access: TruTV, Tuesdays at 10:30pm ET
Time commitment: 30 minutes, weekly

Samurai Jack
Created by the man behind Dexter’s Laboratory – Genndy Tartakovsky – Samurai Jack followed our titular samurai warrior in a distant future that he was transported to by the evil shape-shifting wizard Aku. For four seasons, Jack had to navigate the robot warlords of the time, all in search of a time portal that would take him back, to undo the calamity.

The Cartoon Network show hit pause after finishing its four-season 52-episode order in 2003. For years, there were rumblings of a film, but it never materialised. After an absence of fourteen years, Samurai Jack returned earlier this year for a fifth and final season, with Tartakovsky as executive producer.

It’s set a further 50 years into the future, but Jack – voiced by Phil LaMarr – hasn’t aged a bit owing to the side-effects of time travel. Meanwhile, a group of assassins that follow Aku are plotting to kill him.

How to access: Amazon US, Amazon Video US, iTunes US, Microsoft Store, or YouTube
Time commitment: 30 minutes, weekly

Movies:
Spider-Man: Homecoming
After a brief appearance in Captain America: Civil War, Tom Holland returned as Peter Parker/ Spider-Man in a standalone adventure that marks the second reboot for the web-slinger in just five years. He’s much younger this time around – high school sophomore year – and he’s still coming to grips with his newfound identity and abilities.

After having an amazing time with the Avengers, Peter wants more than just going about his normal routine of attending classes, building 3,000-piece Lego Death Stars, and leave messages for Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) with his assistant Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau). Feeling ignored and left out, he tries to become a hero and bites off more than he can chew, in the form of Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton).

Directed by Jon Watts, Spider-Man: Homecoming is a stellar entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After the disappointment of Spiderman 3 and the failure of The Amazing Spider-Man duology, this reincarnation of Spidey understands what the hero is all about, and gives him a memorable outing.

How to access: Amazon IN, Amazon Video US, Google Play Movies, Hooq, iTunes IN, or YouTube
Time commitment: 2 hours and 13 minutes

War for the Planet of the Apes
In this third chapter of the Planet of the Apes reboot franchise, Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his fellow advanced apes are pitted against a human army led by a man simply known as the Colonel (Woody Harrelson), who channels his inner Marlon Brando for a Kurtz-style performance straight from Apocalypse Now.

Co-written and directed by Matt Reeves, who also directed the previous entry in 2014, War for the Planet of the Apes is another brilliant chapter in what is arguably the best trilogy. It combines strong storytelling with a formidable character arc and top-notch visual effects and motion-capture work, something Serkis has become a pioneer of.

The film is darker and more pessimistic than previous entries in the series, and in the process, it shows where most other Hollywood blockbusters go wrong with their gritty approach. It’s now available on Blu-ray in both 4K and 3D, as well as a box set of the trilogy.

War for the Planet of the Apes: A Fitting End to This Decade’s Best Trilogy

How to access: Amazon US, Amazon Video US, Google Play Movies, iTunes US, or YouTube
Time commitment: 2 hours and 22 minutes

Other mentions:
All seven previously-aired seasons of The Walking Dead are now available on Netflix in India. If you’re intent on following the on-going eighth season as it airs, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

Amazon Prime Video added Satyajit Ray’s Aparajito (1956) – the second part of his masterpiece The Apu Trilogy – this week. While Pather Panchali (1955) is also available on the service, there’s still no sign of The World of Apu (1959) on any streaming platform.

As for home media, the Kristen Stewart-starrer Personal Shopper, which won Olivier Assayas the Best Director award at Cannes last year, has finally arrived on Blu-ray.

Video games:
Assassin’s Creed: Origins
Ubisoft’s long-running popular franchise is headed to Egypt this year with Assassin’s Creed: Origins, which is set during the Ptolemaic period and serves as the origin story – hence the name – to the centuries-long conflict between the Brotherhood of Assassins and The Order of the Ancients, forerunners to the Templar Order that has existed in most other Creed games.

You will play as Bayek, who’s considered the last Medjay, a member of an Ancient Egyptian military. His fight to protect his people leads him to create the Assassins, making Origins a prequel to the entire series. As always, you’ll have an open world to explore, with the help of a Bonelli’s eagle who can scout areas for the character.

Assassin’s Creed is coming off the back of a two-year gap for the first time since 2009, with Ubisoft deciding to step back and re-examine the franchise, and use that time to develop a richer experience. In our review of the game, we called it a great-looking game with revamped combat, one that will keep you occupied for hours on end.

How to access: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Steam for PC
Time commitment: 30 hours

Super Mario Odyssey
The Super Mario series has arrived on the Nintendo Switch with Odyssey, which follows Mario embarking on a new journey across 15 different kingdoms, running and jumping through huge worlds on the perennial quest of saving his beloved Princess Peach. The problem this time? Bowser is planning to marry her.

Nintendo has given Mario a new companion for the Odyssey: Cappy, a ghost who inhabits Mario’s cap and can perform actions on its own. It’s also how the game gets it co-op rating, as two players can take independent control of Mario and Cappy. On your adventure, you’ll come across popular enemies such as Goomba and Chain Chomps, as well as new ones like the T-Rex.

You’ll need to collect Power Moons to travel from kingdom from kingdom, which acts as fuel for your airship Odyssey. Places to explore includes the likes of New Donk City, Seaside Kingdom, and Bowser’s Castle.

Everything You Need to Know About Super Mario Odyssey on Nintendo Switch

How to access: Nintendo Switch
Time commitment: No idea for now

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
A sequel to 2014’s Wolfenstein: The New Order, and developed by award-winning studio MachineGames, The New Colossus continues the alternate history of the first game which saw the Nazi regime winning World War II, and then occupying the US. It’s a bit like Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, minus the Japanese involvement and politics.

William “B.J.” Blazkowicz returns as protagonist in this first-person shooter, as you must push for a second American Revolution against the Nazis, while Frau Engel is hunting you. Wolfenstein II has a unique health system, which is divided into separate sections that regenerate. You can carry as many weapons as you find, and dual wield any two of them.

The game has gone heavy on mo-cap acting, with over 40 hours of performances featuring over 100 actors. In our review, we praised the voice acting, story, gunfights and level design. If you enjoy chopping down Nazis with a hatchet, this is the game for you.

How to access: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or Steam for PC
Time commitment: 15 hours

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