The Borderlands movie trailer has all the nuance of a Borderlands game

There’s a Borderlands movie coming out, and now we have our very first teaser trailer. This footage gives us a glimpse of all of the major characters, most of which are sourced from the game, and the tone that director Eli Roth is going for.

There’s a definite Guardians of the Galaxy vibe running throughout. Maybe it’s the heavy use of an iconic Electric Light Orchestra song, or maybe it’s the ragtag group of adventurers or the mix of action and humor. In any event, director Eli Roth seems to be channeling his best James Gunn. All things considered, that seems to be the right tone for a Borderlands movie. Color us cautiously optimistic.

Now onto the cast and the characters that franchise fans know and love. Cate Blanchett plays the famously short-tempered Lilith and the actress certainly looks the part. Just look at that hair and outfit. The film follows Blanchett as she looks for a mysterious vault rumored to be stuffed to the brim with sweet, sweet loot. It’s just like the game!

Jamie Lee Curtis plays the scientist Dr. Tannis, an NPC in all three of the mainline Borderlands games. Comedian Kevin Hart portrays the mercenary Roland, a playable soldier in many of the games. Jack Black, following his turn as Bowser in the Super Mario Bros. Movie, plays the robot Claptrap. The well-meaning robot is considered a mascot for the franchise and often acts as comic relief. Black seems well-suited to the role. The cast is rounded out by Ariana Greenblatt as the demolitionist Tiny Tina, star of the spinoff game Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, and Florian Munteanu as her enforcer Krieg.

Of course, it remains to be seen if Roth can pull off this kind of big-budget adventure spectacle. The director’s mostly known for horror films. One thing’s for certain, however, the trailer actually looks and feels like Borderlands. The big and bright color palette recalls the cel-shaded aesthetic from the games. The movie hits theaters on August 9.

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Seeking Mavis Beacon is a wild Sundance doc about the search for a lost tech icon

With a healthy dose of heart and whimsy, the Sundance documentary Seeking Mavis Beacon follows two young Black women who are devoted to finding the original model for Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing. If you touched a computer during the '80s or '90s, there's a good chance that Mavis helped you get comfortable with a keyboard. Or at the very least, you might remember her from the program's original 1987 cover: a smiling, elegant Black woman dressed in a cream-colored outfit. She embodied style and professional poise — it was as if you could be just as capable as her if you bought that program.

It's no spoiler to say that "Mavis Beacon" didn't really exist – she was a marketing idea crafted by a group of white dudes from Silicon Valley. But the program's cover star was real: Her name was Renee L'Esperance, a Haitian model who was discovered while working at Saks Fifth Avenue in Los Angeles. After her image helped make Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing a success, she retreated from the spotlight, reportedly heading back to retire in the Caribbean.

Seeking Mavis Beacon
Seeking Mavis Beacon

The documentary's director and writer, Jazmin Jones, as well as her collaborator, Olivia McKayla Ross, start with those basic details and set out to find L'Esperance like a pair of digital detectives. From a home base in a rundown Bay Area office – surrounded by tech ephemera, a variety of art pieces and images of influential black women – they lay out L'Esperance's reported timeline, follow leads and even host a spiritual ceremony to try and connect with the model.

I won't say if the pair actually end up finding L'Esperance because it's the journey that makes Seeking Mavis Beacon such a joy to watch. Jones and Ross both grew up with the typing program and felt a kinship toward the character of Mavis Beacon. It was the first program to prominently feature a Black woman on the cover (a move that reportedly caused some suppliers to cut their orders), so it made the technology world seem like somewhere young Black women could actually fit in. Beacon's digital hands also appear on-screen, as if she's gently guiding your fingers to the correct letters and positioning.

To help uncover more details about the whereabouts of Mavis Beacon, Jones and Ross set up a hotline and website for anyone to submit clues. Some of those calls are featured in the film, and they make it clear that her digital presence inspired many people. The film opens with references to Beacon throughout culture, including one of my favorite bits from Abbott Elementary, where Quinta Brunson's over-achieving teacher is far too excited to spot the typing icon in a school crowd. I was reminded of my own childhood experience with Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing, spending free periods at school and idle time at home trying to get my typing speed up. By middle school, typing felt as natural as breathing. And yes, I would also have freaked out if I saw the real Beacon in person.

While the documentary doesn't seem out of place at Sundance, which is known for innovative projects, it also sometimes feels like a piece of experimental media meant for YouTube or an art show filled with impossibly cool twenty-somethings. (At one point, Ross attends a farewell ceremony for one of her friends' dead laptops, which was hosted in an art space filled with people dressed in white. That's the sort of hip weirdness that will either turn you off of this film, or endear you to it more.)

Jazmin Jones and Olivia Mckayla Ross in Seeking Mavis Beacon

Jones shows us screen recordings of her own desktop, where she may be watching a TikTok alongside her notes. Instead of a full-screen video chat with another person, sometimes we just see a FaceTime window (and occasionally that reflects Jones' own image looking at the screen). Finding Mavis Beacon tells its story in a way that digital natives will find natural, without locking itself exclusively into screens like the film Searching.

As is true for many first features, the film could use some narrative tightening. Jones and Ross's investigation stalls at several points, and we're often just left adrift as they ponder their next steps. The pair also occasionally appear too close to the story, or at least, that's how it seems when we see Jones tearing up while pleading to meet with L'Esperance.

But I'd argue that's also part of the charm of Seeking Mavis Beacon. Jones and Ross aren't some true crime podcast hosts looking to create content out of controversy. They're young women who found comfort in one of the few faces in tech that looked like them. With this film, Jones and Ross could be similarly inspirational for a new generation of underrepresented techies.

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Netflix’s full Avatar: The Last Airbender trailer nails the vibe of the cartoon

Hold onto your cabbages. Netflix just dropped a full trailer for its forthcoming live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender. It actually looks pretty cool, surprising fans who have been dreading a repeat of the disastrous 2010 film adaptation. The vibe is on point, calling to mind the source material, and the casting department looks to have done a fantastic job. Just look at Sokka, as portrayed by Ian Ousley.

This is the second trailer for the show, but the first was more of a teaser. The new trailer features two and a half minutes of footage, complete with jokes, action set-pieces and plenty of appearances by the franchise’s resident cutie-pies, the air bison Appa and winged lemur Momo. They are both CGI, but look pretty good to me.

You also get a deeper glimpse into both the world itself and the show’s primary characters. Gordon Courmier and Kiawentiio Tarbell look great as Aang and Katara, respectively. The trailer also boasts a shirtless Firelord Ozai, as played by Lost’s Daniel Dae Kim. Of course, it wouldn’t be Avatar without Prince Zuko and General Iroh, both of whom are featured prominently. Iroh is played by Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, fresh off his stint in a galaxy far, far away (he’s in a bunch of Star Wars shows.)

Netflix’s version of Avatar: The Last Airbender premieres with all episodes on February 22. Original series creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko aren’t involved with this adaptation, but are making an animated movie to further the adventures of Aang and the gang, in addition to more projects set in the Avatar universe.

As for Netflix, this is just the latest live-action adaptation of a pre-existing cartoon. The anime One Piece got a show earlier this year, preceded by Cowboy Bebop, Death Note, Fullmetal Alchemist and several more.

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Netflix grabbed the most Oscar nominations, with stiff competition from Disney and Apple

It’s that time of year again. Oscar nominations are in, setting off a firestorm of debate and speculation until the awards ceremony in March. This year, the streamers absolutely ruled the roost. Netflix snagged 18 nominations, including best picture, which technically puts it in first place, according to a breakdown from Variety.

I say Netflix “technically” received the most nominations because it depends on your point of view. Disney actually scored 20 nominations across various categories, but only when you don’t split up its various sub-brands. Remember, Disney owns just about everything, including 20th Century Studios, Hulu, Lucasfilm Ltd., Marvel Studios, National Geographic Documentary Films, Pixar Animation Studios and Searchlight, among others. All of them together came to 20 nominations, including a best picture nomination for Poor Things.

Apple came away with 13 nominations, including best picture nods for Napoleon and Killers of the Flower Moon, which isn’t bad for a company that just started creating original content around four years ago. Universal, an actual old-school production company, also nabbed 13 noms, including best picture for one half of the summer’s hottest cinema event, Oppenheimer.

The other half of the equation, Barbie, was also nominated for best picture. However, Greta Gerwig got snubbed for best director, which is not sitting right with denizens of the internet. Also, Margot Robbie didn’t get a best actress nomination, while Ryan Gosling got one for best supporting actor. To be fair, that best actress category is crowded with stellar performances from relative newcomers like Lily Gladstone to long-time veterans like Annette Bening.

The films with the most nominations include Oppenheimer and Poor Things, both with 13. Production company A24, however, was the only studio with multiple nominations in the best picture category, thanks to Past Lives and The Zone of Interest. A24 was also behind the Netflix limited series Beef, which took home a slew of Emmy awards last week. Inexplicably, A24 also produces the hilarious, yet decidedly low-brow, sitcom Tacoma FD. That's your useless fact for the day. 

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Sony is making an Until Dawn movie

Sony is continuing to mine its back catalog of games for movie adaptations while persistently forgetting that Bloodborne is right there. Its next game that's bound for the big screen is Until Dawn, a 2015 interactive horror title that Supermassive Games developed and Sony published.

David F. Sandberg (Lights Out and the Shazam! movies) will direct the adaptation, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Gary Dauberman, who previously worked on Annabelle: Creation with Sandberg, is taking a fresh stab at a script originally written by Blair Butler (The Invitation).

Until Dawn focuses on a group of eight young people who try to survive the night at a perilous mountain retreat. The spooky game has a branching narrative and, depending on the decisions you make (or if you fail at quick-time events), some of the characters may not make it until the group is rescued the following morning.

Given that any or all of the characters may perish during the night, there are hundreds of possible endings to the game, so it'll be interesting to see which direction Sandberg and Dauberman take with the material. Several notable actors appeared in Until Dawn, including Hayden Panettiere, Jordan Fisher and Oscar winner Rami Malek.

Sony has already adapted several of its games into film and TV properties, with live-action versions of Uncharted (another movie pastiche that itself became a film), Gran Turismo, Twisted Metal and The Last of Us popping up over the last couple of years. Sony also has adaptations of Ghost of Tsushima, Horizon: Zero Dawn, God of War and others in the pipeline.

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The Mandalorian (and Grogu) are coming to theaters, with series creator Jon Favreau directing

It’s official. The Mandalorian and his little green buddy are coming to the big screen, and before Dave Filoni’s long-anticipated crossover film event. The movie, appropriately titled The Mandalorian & Grogu, will be helmed by Jon Favreau, who created the Disney+ streaming TV show.

Fans have been speculating why there hasn’t been a renewal announcement regarding a new season of The Mandalorian, and this could be why. The film’s going into production this year, which is likely when a new season of the show would have been created. Beyond Favreau, the producers include franchise luminaries Kathleen Kennedy and Dave Filoni. There’s no plot synopsis, but Kennedy says the “new story is a perfect fit for the big screen.”

Director Jon Favreau not only created The Mandalorian TV show, but kickstarted the entire MCU when he directed a little film called Iron Man. He also helmed Elf, Swingers and live-action remakes of The Lion King and The Jungle Book.

Disney has offered no information regarding where in the timeline this film would take place, but one assumes it would be set directly following the events of both The Mandalorian season 3 and the first season of Ahsoka. This means that Mando and his ridiculously cute ward could become involved with Grand Admiral Thrawn’s attempts to rebuild the empire.

In a short span of time, we’ve gone from wondering if there would ever be another Star Wars movie to there being, well, a whole bunch of them. The Mandalorian & Grogu will likely lead to Dave Filoni’s unnamed crossover movie that features characters from across ‘The Mandoverse’, including Ahsoka, Boba Fett, Ezra Bridger, CGI Luke Skywalker and more.

There’s also a movie in the works chronicling the further adventures of Rey, directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, and a film exploring the origins of the Jedi and Sith directed by James Mangold. On the TV side of things, Ahsoka has been greenlit for a second season. Before that, however, there’s the Jude Law vehicle Skeleton Crew and a show set hundreds of years before the Skywalker Saga called The Acolyte. Star Wars: The Bad Batch is also getting a third and final season.

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Indiana Jones Golden Idol Temple Wall Trap Replicas

Inspired by the carved faces that fire darts at Indy and Satipo as they try to exit the temple after setting off the golden idol’s booby traps, these wall art blocks from Regal Robot are perfect for the Indiana Jones-themed room in your own home. You do have an Indiana Jones room, right? Well, if not, these will make the perfect start.

Each block measures approximately 15″ square and is made in the U.S. using hand-painted polyurethane resin. That quality doesn’t come cheap, though — an individual square will set you back $375. Yikes! I might have to steal and sell some ancient artifacts just to be able to afford one.

A few dozen of these on the walls, along with some cobwebs, spike pits, and a giant rolling boulder replica, and your Indiana Jones room will be complete! What a place to watch the movies that will be! Please, just remind me about the spike pits whenever I get up for snacks or a bathroom break.

[via TheAwesomer]

Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon premieres globally on Apple TV+ on January 12

Set your calendars. Martin Scorsese’s latest and greatest, Killers of the Flower Moon, is premiering globally on Apple TV+ in just over a week. The film drops on January 12. It was originally released in theaters on November 20, which means it’ll be 12 weeks before arriving on a streaming service, which has become fairly standard in recent years.

We knew this would drop on Apple TV+, as Apple Studios financed the film and arranged for theatrical distribution. We just didn’t know when, and now we do. Incidentally, this is the first Apple-financed film to get a wide theatrical release.

Killers of the Flower Moon is a great match for streaming, as it's well over three hours long, which made for some frantic trips to the theater bathroom once the credits rolled. The movie stars Lily Gladstone, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro and Jesse Plemons and is set in 1920s Oklahoma. The narrative is based on a true story and follows the serial murders of members of the Osage Nation tribe. There’s a lot more than that, but we ain’t about to start handing out spoilers like candy. Watch the movie. It’s good.

To that end, Killers of the Flower Moon has been nabbing up award nominations left and right, including 12 Critics Choice nominations and seven Golden Globe nominations. It was also named to the American Film Institute's list of Motion Pictures of the Year. Oscar nominations don’t drop until later this month, but it’s likely to make several appearances across multiple categories.

This is the biggest film to come from Apple Studios, but not the only notable release. Coda, another Apple original, actually won Best Picture at the 2021 Academy Awards. Apple is also behind Ridley Scott’s Napoleon and forthcoming releases by directors Jon Watts and Matthew Vaughn, among others.

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Jack Black will reportedly play Steve in the long-delayed Minecraft movie adaptation

Jack Black is reportedly set to play Minecraft Steve. Deadline wrote on Tuesday that the School of Rock actor will play the game’s blocky protagonist alongside Jason Momoa in the game’s long-delayed film adaptation.

The Minecraft adaptation has been in development since 2014. It’s cycled through at least three previous directors (Shawn Levy, Rob McElhenney and Peter Sollett) and two missed release windows (2019 and 2022). Its current target date is April 4, 2025.

The writers for the project’s current iteration haven’t yet been revealed. However, adapting the sandbox building game into a plot-driven Hollywood blockbuster will allow for (and probably require) ample creativity from its scribes. A plot synopsis published in 2019 (which may or may not still apply) describes the film as following “a teenage girl and her unlikely group of adventurers. After the malevolent Ender Dragon sets out on a path of destruction, they must save their beautiful, blocky Overworld.”

Image of the character Steve (blocky, rudimentary graphics) from Minecraft in front of an orange gradient background.
Minecraft Steve
Mojang / Microsoft

Black is fresh off a beloved performance as Bowser in The Super Mario Bros. Movie, where he showed the effectiveness of his larger-than-life comedic presence in gaming adaptations. IGN even noted that both of Black’s gaming roles — Bowser and Steve — appeared in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Napoleon Dynamite creator (and Black collaborator on Nacho Libre) Jared Hess will direct. Deadline says production will start soon on the film, which hails from Warner Bros, Vertigo, Legendary, Mojang / Microsoft and On the Roam. Emma Myers, Danielle Brooks and Sebastian Eugene Hansen have signed on to join Black and Momoa in the cast.

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A24 will help bring the Death Stranding movie to life

It's been a year since we learned that a movie based on Death Stranding was in the works. Now, Kojima Productions has brought another notable partner on board. A24, the celebrated studio behind movies such as Everything Everywhere All At Once and Uncut Gems, is helping to adapt Death Stranding into a live-action film.

More than 16 million people have explored Hideo Kojima's haunting game so far. Death Stranding tasks a courier named Sam Porter Bridges (played by Norman Reedus) with unifying a fractured America after a cataclysmic event. It's a strange, captivating game. Perhaps most importantly for A24, it's also deeply cinematic.

The adaptation will "delve into the mysteries surrounding the apocalyptic event called the 'Death Stranding,' which blurred the lines between life and death, and brought forth nightmarish creatures into a world on the brink of collapse," according to a press release. Don't expect the film to directly follow the events of the game, though.

"There are a lot of 'game adaptation films' out there but what we are creating is not just a direct translation of the game," Kojima, who claims to have taken inspiration from some of A24's work, said. "The intention is that our audience will not only be fans of the games, but our film will be for anyone who loves cinema. We are creating a Death Stranding universe that has never been seen before, achievable only through the medium of film, it will be born.”

Kojima is a renowned movie buff who may very well have been a film director in another life. He may not have enough time to slide into the director's chair on this occasion though, as Kojima Productions has its hands full with two games that are in the works: a Death Stranding sequel and a new project called OD. Still, A24 has a number of high-profile collaborators who'd make a compelling Death Stranding film. I'm curious as to what Ari Aster, Robert Eggers, Sofia Coppola or Alex Garland might be able to do with that source material.

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