Assassin’s Creed and Movies, TV & Books to look out for in 2017

Happy New Year All

I know, it’s been the new year for over a week now. But unfortunately there has been a crazy flu going around Ireland and I was knocked with it all this week, so this is my first post of 2017.

And for it I thought I’d share my views on Assassin’s Creed, the new movie based on the video game series of the same name, and some of the upcoming movies, TV and books that I’m most excited to see this year, as 2017 sure has a lot to look forward to by the looks of things.

For anybody who may not know, Assassin’s Creed boasts a stellar cast including Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson and Charlotte Rampling. Fassbender plays Callum Logan, a man sentenced to death for killing a pimp. His execution is faked by a secretive organisation know as the Abstergo Foundation. Head scientist at the company, Dr. Sophia Rikkin (Cotillard) informs Callum that he is a direct descendent of a man named Aguilar de Nerha, an assassin active in 15th century Spain.

Callum is forced to take part in the Animus Project, whereby he is connected to a machine that allows him to live the genetic memories of Aguilar. Abstergo hopes that by doing this, they will be able to learn the whereabout of an ancient powerful artefact known as the Apple of Eden, which could have huge implications for the human race. Check out the trailer here if you haven’t seen it:

I’ve played a couple of the Assassin’s Creed games in the past and they were great. They are really immersive and rich in detail. If you happen to be a big fan of the games you will love the aesthetic of the movie, with its sprawling landscapes and the upgraded design of the Animus, which takes it from a simple chair to a more dramatic machine that allows the user to move around, and have what they are experiencing in the past projected into the room around them.

There are also some elements that have been lifted directly from the games that will please fans, such as the signature ‘Leap of Faith’, which were performed by Fassbender’s stunt double, which do look pretty cool and even incorporate the signature screech of the eagle as it is being carried out. Fans will also enjoy an extended escape scene that evokes memories of the games, right down to the abundant sound of bells chiming, alerting the city as Aguilar and his partner Maria evade guards by running and jumping across rooftops.

The performances, as you would expect from this bunch are all on point, especially between Fassbender and Cotillard, who once again display some of the great chemistry they shared in 2015’s Macbeth. There is also a nice little cameo from Brendan Gleeson, and from an Irish perspective, it is great to see two of our greatest exports acting together. But while the films design and its acting are all fine, the film just lacks something. It’s a bit dull. Despite the interesting premise, lush visuals, and occasional exciting action scenes, and I can’t really figure out why. Perhaps it has something to do with it being adapted from a video game, because lets face it, none of them have ever been very good.

Or perhaps it’s the trailers. They did a good job of raising the hype and maybe they are guilty of making us think we would finally get an excellent video game adaptation, only for us to get something that is fine, but drops far short of excellent. But, ultimately, it is watchable, however I wouldn’t rush to see it again straight away. Though it’s far more watchable than the last video game movie I saw, Warcraft, which was awful. At least this one didn’t assume that everyone had played and loved each of the games it is based on.

VERDICT: 6/10

Assassin’s Creed was highly anticipated in the run up to its release, but the rest of 2017 has a whole host of exciting movies, TV series, and books that are sure to get people just as pumped up, if not more so. Here are a few of each that I am most looking forward to this year:

Movies

Later this month sees the release of Split, starring James McAvoy. He plays Kevin, a man with multiple personality disorder. He kidnaps 3 teenage girls and holds them captive in his home. The girls must try to convince one of his 23 distinct personalities to set them free before his final personality, known as the ‘Beast’, manifests itself. The trailer for this really grabbed me. It’s an intriguing plot and McAvoy appears to have given his all with portraying the multiple personalities. It is written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, who often produces really out there psychological thrillers and horrors, which are very hit and miss. Hopefully this is one of the former.

Also dropping the end of this month, the 27th to be exact, is a sequel that has many fans of the original talking. I’m talking of course about Trainspotting 2. It’s hard to believe, but the original movie is twenty years old this year. I caught it again over this past Christmas and it is one of those enduring films, blending raiser sharp comedy with the serious issues around drug use. Here’s hoping the sequel gives us some laugh out loud gold again. Sh**ty sheets anyone? 😝

Taking a turn in the other direction, February sees the release of The Lego Batman Movie. The Lego Movie was released in 2014 and went on to become a huge hit with not just children but adults to. This spinoff follows that movies most well received character, Lego Batman, voiced by Will Arnett. It also boasts the voice work of Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Zack Galifianakis and Ralph Fiennes. It’s sure to be a fun, colourful, zany hour and a half, in which Lego Batman learns to work as part of a team to try to save Gotham City from The Joker.

February also sees the release of Loving. It stars our very own Ruth Negga in the role of Mildred Loving, a black woman who is sentenced to prison in Virginia in 1958 along with her white husband (played by Joel Edgerton) as interracial marriage is illegal at that time. It tells the story of how they fought for their freedom and the decisions laid down in the landmark case, Loving V Virginia, which invalidated state laws on interracial marriage. Negga’s performance has gained a lot of attention and there is much speculation she could be in line for an Oscar. This one is definitely on the must see list.

I feel like I’ll be spending most of my time in the cinema in March, as there are so many films I want to see being released then. Firstly, there’s Logan, Hugh Jackman’s final outing as the ferocious Wolverine, a character he has played for the last 17 years. It’s sure to be an emotional farewell, and one of the bloodiest yet now that it’s been given an R rating. Following that, there is Kong: Skull Island. So ya it’s another King Kong reboot, but it has some of the best actors of the moment in Tom Hiddleston, Bree Larson and Samuel L Jackson attached. Plus the star of the show, King Kong himself has received an upgrade. He’s huge. And this one will be laying the groundwork that leads to an epic clash of the titans in 2020, when King Kong and Godzilla collide.

March also brings with it a huge chunk of childhood nostalgia in the form of a new live action Power Rangers movie. I loved the over the top zaniness of it when I was a kid, and always wanted to be a Ranger. It’s gotten a slick redesign for 2017, and it has the excellent Elizabeth Banks playing villain Rita Repulsa. There is also the first in a planned franchise based around the legend of King Arthur. It stars Charlie Hunnam as the title character and has been directed by Guy Ritchie. The last film about King Arthur (released in 2004 starring Clive Owen and Keira Knightly) wasn’t extremely well received, but I loved it, and I love anything set back in that time period. And David Beckham even has a cameo in this! So it’s worth seeing for that alone.

Continuing with March, The Belko Experiment is also set to be released. Well, in America at least, no concrete release date for this side of the world yet. 80 co-workers in a high-rise office block in Colombia are forced to take part in a deadly social experiment which amounts to kill or be killed. It reads like Hunger Games in a high rise, but the trailer looks like it will be very tense as people start turning on each other. Finally, March also sees the release of the much talked about Beauty and the Beast. Emma Watson stars as Belle in an example of pitch perfect casting. And the recently released teasers prove she has the voice to match as well. The original animated movie is beloved among fans of the story, but the trailers appear to show that Disney will deliver a magical take once again.

So March has a lot going on, but the rest of the year has much to offer as well. As is the norm nowadays, no year is complete without a few comic book adaptations to sink our teeth into. Chief amongst these is the much-anticipated first live action outing of DC Comics’ super heroine Wonder Woman, which arrives in June. It’s only been like 75 years in the making. I can’t believe it has taken this long for one of the most iconic female characters ever to finally get a big screen outing. She made a brief appearance in last years Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, and although that movie was met with widespread criticism, Gal Gadot’s performance of Wonder Woman was heavily praised, despite brief screen time.  I remember when it was announced that Gadot had been cast and she received a wave of abuse online by those who felt she wasn’t right for the character. But I think she is perfect for the part, and will surprise a lot of people.

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is sure to be a huge hit when it drops in May to. It’s hard to believe now, but Marvel were initially worried about Guardians before the first film was released in 2014, thinking it might not connect with fans because it was a bit on the weird side. Well fans loved it, and if the trailers are anything to go by, they should also love its sequel. I’m looking forward to it, but Baby Groot features prominently in the trailer and I hope they don’t overuse him. July sees Spiderman make a return to Marvel, and have his first full outing as part of the MCU. Tom Holland featured briefly in a memorable cameo in last year’s Captain America: Civil War. He seems to have perfectly captured the essence of Peter Parker: a kind of awkward teenager who receives great power by accident. Robert Downey Jr also makes another appearance as Tony Stark/ Iron Man, and he and Holland have a great chemistry, which should be fun to watch. I speculated in a previous post whether Mary-Jane Watson could make an appearance in this movie, and it has received a huge response on the poll that I posted with it. Take a look here, if you like.

Also, I can’t talk about comic book movies this year and not mention Justice League, DC and Warner Brothers’ answer to The Avengers. The trailer if I’m honest left me a bit underwhelmed, and given the fact that DC’s extended universe has got off to a shaky start, I’m a bit apprehensive about this one. But I think that Wonder Woman can steady the ship in June, and I’m liking the casting of the team. Especially Ezra Miller. I thought he wasn’t a great choice for The Flash when he was announced, but he has completely changed my mind. I think he will be great comic relief going forward.

War of the Planet of the Apes is also sure to be a big hit this year. I really like how this franchise has changed it up since the 2001 Planet of the Apes starring Mark Wahlberg. Bringing it back to Earth and making the apes have a level of intelligence that allows them to take over the world is an interesting, terrifying plot. From one franchise to another, I am also really excited for the second Kingsman film. The first was a perfect blend of action and dark humour, so hopefully the second is more of the same. No official trailer as of yet, but I’ll definitely be looking out for it. The cast is immense, with Taron Edgerton, Colin Firth and Mark Strong being joined by Halle Berry, Julianne Moore, Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges and Pedro Pascal. It’d due to drop in October.

The Mummy is also getting a reboot this year, and is due in theatres June. To be honest, I’m not to gone on the idea of Tom Cruise being in this, but I can forgive it, as the trailer looks good. Sofia Boutella, who had a huge boost from her appearance as Gazelle in the first Kingsman outing, is taking over mummy duties, and she looks terrifying as the evil Princess Ahmanet. Adding to the reboots this year is Baywatch, due to arrive this summer. It will probably be cheesy as hell, but it should be a bit of fun none the less. And the cast, including The Rock, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddarrio and Kelly Rohrbach are sure to be giving us all body envy. Finally, a redo of the Agatha Christie classic story, Murder on the Orient Express, due for release at the end of the year, has me really excited, because I’ve read the book and it’s so well written with an excellent twist. And the cast is exceptional, including Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp and Michelle Pfeiffer.

So I’ll stop it there on the movies, because there are many more that have piqued my interest, and if I don’t stop, I’ll be writing forever.

TV

There are not just lots of great movies coming this year, but more great TV series’ as well. The first that has caught my eye is Emerald City, that just had its premiere on NBC in America last week. It’s an updated, modern, more adult take on the Wizard of Oz storyline. True Detective’s Adria Arjona stars as Dorthy, who in this telling is a police officer with a police dog named Toto (as you probably guess). She arrives in Oz and sets out to find The Wizard, played by Vincent D’Onofrio, but sets in motion a prophecy that could be disastrous for all involved. The first season has 10 episodes, perfect for a binge watch if you can’t get to it every week.

Netflix are bringing The Series of Unfortunate Events books to the small screen. Hollywood gave this series a bash a few years ago, with Jim Carrey taking on the role of the evil Count Olaf, who terrorizes the series’ main characters, the Baudelaire Orphans. It didn’t really make a huge impact and didn’t go anywhere after that one film. Netflix has now resurrected it, and Neil Patrick Harris is taking over the role of Olaf from Carrey. It’s received a bit of backlash online that it’s not dark enough, but I think it could be a bit of fun. It looks a bit zany from the trailer and the cast of characters we are to be introduced to seem cooky and interesting. And Patrick Warburton is narrating the series as Lemony Snicket. He has such a smooth voice that it’s sure to give anyone voice envy. The series is only 8 episodes long, so it should be an easy binge watch.

The Walking Dead also returns next month. The show has had a bumpy series 7 to say the least, struggling to find its feet after an epic season opener that saw the gruesome deaths of two of the shows most love characters. The following seven episodes were a little sluggish, with many characters just wandering around unable to free themselves from the oppressive hold of new antagonist Negan, played by an excellent Jeffrey Dean Morgan. But the mid-season finale showed all the shows big hitters coming together again and endeavouring to fight against Negan and get their lives back. So I’m excited to see what is going to go down in the rest of season 7.

Not only are superheroes dominating the box office, but they have also made a definite stamp on TV. The newest superhero show that is gaining lots of hype is FX and Marvels series Legion. Legion follows the story of David Haller, played by Dan Stevens who is from the X-Men universe in the comics. He is the son of Charles Xavier. In this series, he is set to be depicted as telepathic. But in the comics, he has many different personalities, and each controls a different power, so the show is likely to take that route eventually. A must see for X-Men fans. The first series will consist of 8 episodes.

“What I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career, skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. I will look for you, I will find you and I will kill you”. Everybody knows the now iconic words uttered by Liam Neeson in the first Taken film. Now that the film series has ended (after being dragged out too long it must be said), NBC have revived Taken for TV and it is due to premiere next month. The series will explore the origins of Bryan Mills, played this time by Clive Standen, and reveal how he acquired that “set of skills”. Could be one to keep an eye out for.

Netflix are also releasing the fourth of their interconnected superhero series’ this year in Iron Fist. Netflix has this down at this point, with Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage all being well received. The series in due to drop in March, and stars Finn Jones, who Game of Thrones fans will recognise as Loras Tyrell. He plays the title character Iron Fist A.K.A Danny Rand, an orphan raised in the mysterious city of K’un-Lun. Trained in the martial arts and able to call on the power of the Iron Fist (which allows him to enhance his natural abilities to superhuman levels), he returns to New York City to reclaim his deceased families company. This the final piece to the puzzle before all the heroes listed above join forces in the Defenders series. That series will consist of 8 episodes, and is also scheduled for release this year, but no date has been set yet. We will probably hear more after Iron Fist lands in March.

Another series coming to Netflix this year that sounds interesting is 13 Reasons Why, based on the 2007 book of the same name by Jay Asher. It tells the harrowing story of Clay, played by Dylan Minnette, who receives a box of cassette tapes from a girl named Hannah, who has committed suicide. The tapes explain to 13 people how they had a role in her choosing to take her own life. Katherine Langford will play Hannah. Selena Gomez is set to produce, while Grey’s Anatomy star Kate Walsh is also due to star. It has an intriguing premise, and is sure to tug at the heartstrings when it arrives sometime in 2017.

J.K Rowling seems to always have either a book, movie or TV series on the go, and 2017 is no different. Her crime series, written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith and telling the story of Private Investigator Cormoran Strike, is being produced for TV by the BBC, and been picked up for US broadcast by HBO. I’ve read the first book in the series. It’s a huge departure from the Harry Potter series that made Rowling a household name, but it was great so I’m eager to dive into the others at some point. Tom Burke, best know for his work on the series The Musketeers and an adaptation of War and Peace, has been cast in the lead role of Cormoran Strike.

Another series I’m looking forward to is an adaptation of the Gillian Flynn novel Sharp Objects. Flynn wrote Gone Girl, the book which enjoyed phenomenal success and spawned a hit movie starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. Sharp Objects tells the story of Camille Preake, a journalist who returns to her hometown to investigate a series of gruesome murders. HBO made an eight episode order for the series last April, and it is reportedly due to premiere this year. I haven’t read the book yet, but I have read Gone Girl, and if it is anything like that, it will be excellent. The best news, they have signed Amy Adams, an incredible talent, to the role of Camille, so it already has some gravitas behind it.

Books

Between all the great potential movies and TV to sink my teeth into, and trying to work and study for college, I don’t know where I’ll find the time to fit in some books. There are a few that I’m looking forward to. At the top of my list is The Winds of Winter, the sixth instalment in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, which as we all know is the basis for everyone’s favourite TV epic Game of Thrones. It’s been almost 6 years since the last book, A Dance with Dragons, was released. And by now, it is safe to say that anticipation for this book is high. No date of publication has been revealed, but it is heavily expected to be some time this year. Here’s hoping. I love the books, and I can’t wait to eventually dive back into them.

Another book I’m intrigued by is being released this month. It’s called Caraval by Stephanie Garber. The plot concerns a legendary game known as the Caraval, which happens once a year, and in which the audience participates in the show. Scarlett and Tella are sisters who live on a tiny island, and are overjoyed to receive an invitation to attend the show. However when they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by the producer of the Caraval, and Scarlett learns that her sister is the main element of this years games, and she must find her before the five days are up, or she may disappear for ever. I like the sound of the plot, and anything that revolves around competition usually interests me, so I’ll be keeping this one on my radar.

Also set to be released the end of this month is Six Wakes, by Mur Lafferty. It follows Maria Shea, who is a crew member on the starship Pituitary. The ship is on a 400 year journey to reach the planet Artemis, with thousands of citizens on board who are placed in hibernation. So far, so Passengers. However, when Maria and the rest of the crew are killed they are resurrected by cloning. Confused, covered in blood and scared they wonder what has happened. As the group tries to figure out which of them was the killer, the ships AI system changes the ship’s course back toward Earth. So, an interesting premise of a murder mystery set in space? I’m in.

Another mystery I’m excited to read at some point is Swimming Lessons, by Claire Fuller. In this story, Ingrid Coleman writes letters to her husband Gil about their lives and marriage. But she never gives them to him. Instead, she hides them inside a huge collection of books she has amassed over the years. Then one day, she writes her final letter and up and leaves Gil, her daughters Flora and Nan, and her home and life behind. 12 years later, Flora returns to her family home to care for her frail, ill father and finally try to discover what happened to her mother. Little does she know, the key to finding her could be on the shelves surrounding her. I really like the sound of this as it reminds me of Gone Girl, which had me gripped from word go. This is due to be published in February.

“Beware a calm surface, you never know what lies underneath”. Thats the tagline for the upcoming second novel by Paula Hawkins, writer of the smash hit The Girl on the Train. The book, called Into the Water, is due for release in May. In it, a single mother turns up dead at the bottom of a river. Only a few months earlier, a teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to this river, and their deaths unearth long-buried secrets. I haven’t read The Girl on the Train yet, but I’ve seen the movie adaptation of it which was great. I did a little review here if you’re interested. My Mam read the book though, and told me it was really well written, so if this second book is as good, it’s sure to be a treat.

Another plot that caught my eye is that of The Girl Before, by J.P Delaney, due for release at the end of this month as well. It follows Emma, a woman recovering from a traumatic breakup. She wants to find a new place to start fresh, but she can’t afford anything she sees. That’s until she finds One Folgate Street. A house minimalistic in design, with pale stone, plate-glass and high ceilings. The house comes with a unique set of rules and is said to transform its occupant. Later, after a personal tragedy, Jane finds One Folgate Street, and is immediately drawn to it. Moving in she soon learns of the untimely death of the house’s previous occupant. She endeavours to find out what happened to the girl before. If that chilling plot doesn’t grab you, I don’t know what will!

March sees the release of The Inexplicable Logic of My Life. The story follows Sal, who used to know his place with in the world, with his adoptive gay father, Mexican-American Family, and best friend Samantha by his side. But as his senior year of high school gets underway, Sal begins to question everything and starts to wonder who he really is and what his purpose is. I stumbled across this one and was intrigued by the premise. I think it is completely relatable, as who amongst us hasn’t questioned who they really are and what they are meant to do with their lives? An intriguing one for sure.

Just about to be released, Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson, sounds right up my street. When Kate, an art student in London is convinced by her cousin Corbin in Boston that they should swap apartments for a while, she thinks it will be good for her to overcome some of the recent turmoil in her life. However, when she arrives, she discovers that a young woman who lives next door has been murdered. Kate is questioned by police, and meets another neighbour who says he often saw Corbin coming and going from the woman’s apartment. Kate reaches out to Corbin, who proclaims his innocence. At first she believes him. But then she finds disturbing objects hidden in the apartment and discovers that Corbin is not in London where he should be. I think we’ve established that I love a good murder mystery and this one sounds chilling.

We live in an image conscious society, and a new novel this year by Josh Sundquist will ask whether physical beauty is that important. In Love and First Sight, blind sixteen-year-old Will starts to find his footing at a new school when he develops a crush on a girl named Cecily. Then the opportunity of an experimental surgery that could give him his sight presents itself and Will hungrily accepts. The operation is a success, but Will soon learns that what he was told about Cecily’s appearance was a lie by their friends to get them together. Cecily doesn’t meet traditional standards of beauty, but does it really matter to Will?

Perhaps destined to be the winner of the most obvious storyline ever thanks to its title this year is They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera. It is set in a future New York, where people can use a service to notify them on the day they will die. Two teenagers find that they are destined to die on the same day, when they meet on an app called Last Friend. Together they endeavour to live a full life in just one day. The plot of this is so unique and despite the title, I think this one will be full of twists and turns. So don’t judge a book by its cover, or its title.

So there you have it guys, a few picks of mine to look out for in 2017. Anything on your mind you would recommend? Feel free to leave me a comment and let me know, and of course, feel free to connect with me on social media. You’ll find the links in the menu at the top of this page.

Have a happy and healthy 2017  ✌🏻

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