The novel coronavirus (nCoV) outbreak has had a devastating impact on humankind since the onset of 2020. But if we looked at follow- ing timeline of similar outbreaks from 2000 onwards, we would learn that the threat of such out- breaks has been a constant one: West Nile Virus (1999-2002), Anthrax (2001), SARS-CoV (2003), Mumps (2006), E.coli and Salmonella (2006), H1N1 Virus (2009), Whooping Cough (2012), MERS-CoV (2012), Ebola (2014), and Zika Virus (2016). It’s quite obvious that the threat is very real. But what if we had a comic book which accurately predicted these deadly pandemics well in advance? Well, welcome to the world of Utopia—the new Amazon series centred around a group of comic fans who meet online and bond over their obsession of a comic book series named ‘Utopia’ known to predict deadly pandemics. The series is created by Gillian Flynn, the famed author of Gone Girl. Flynn also serves as show- runner and executive producer. Utopia is inspired by the 2013 British series of the same name.
The best part about Utopia is that while watching it one gets sucked into the comic book world where it is set. It’s a very visceral experience that might make anyone who is not a comic book fan feel very uneasy at first. When typically a comic book story unfolds in an audiovisual medium the experience is quite relatable to gaming. It’s a sudden death kind of an environment where anything can happen at any moment. So, there are lots of twists and turns with a very high body count. Also, the characters are quite twisted and diabolical, even the supposedly good ones aren’t to be trusted one bit.
Given the twists and turns and the bleak subject matter, it’s difficult not to be reminded of David Fincher’s 1997 thriller film The Game while watching Utopia. And so it’s no surprise that Fincher was initially supposed to direct Utopia for HBO before things fell apart and the project got acquired by Amazon. Fortunately for Amazon, they were able to get the second-best person to helm Utopia, Flynn, who also adapted her 2012 novel for Fincher. Now, Flynn is no Fincher when it comes to exercising mastery over audiovisual medium but what works to her great advantage is that the long-form narrative is essentially a writer’s medium. And working with a trio of directors, Toby Haynes (4 episodes), Susanna Fogel (3 episodes), and J.D. Dillard (1 episode), Flynn has been able to deliver a solid series. However, there is no denying that had Fincher even directed only a couple of these episodes, the series would have got a certain lift.
Utopia is far from being a perfect series (too many convenient coincidences, forced twists and turns, and inconsistent character arcs), but it does have its moments. While the comic fans’ quest for ‘Utopia’ with the hope of saving the world appears a little juvenile initially, it seems to work well within the series’ meta- world—the comic within a comic structure.
The borderline whacky performances of John Cusack, Rainn Wilson, Christopher Denham, and Desmin Borges greatly help bring Utopia’s world to life. Essaying the complex part of the cunning and scheming Dr Kevin Christie, Cusack brings so much weight to the series with his stellar screen presence. Christopher Denham as Arby is a fine addition to the league of psychopathic killers we have seen over the years. Wilson as Dr Michael Stearns and Borges as Wilson Wilson present to us the other side of crazy. Despite its shortcomings, Utopia is ideally suited to the pandemic times we live in, especially if you have a thing for conspiracy theories.
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TOM HOLLAND TO PLAY FRED ASTAIRE IN UPCOMING BIOPIC
WASHINGTON: Actor Tom Holland has recently confirmed that he will portray the role of late legendary Hollywood icon Fred Astaire in an upcoming biopic by Sony Pictures. As per The Hollywood Reporter, the 25-year-old confirmed the news while promoting ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ at a London event. “The script came in a week ago. I haven’t read it yet; they haven’t given it to me,” he told the media. Further details like who is the writer of the project are not disclosed yet. Another Astaire project also is in the works of Amazon Studios and Automatik, with Bell starring as the legend and Margaret Qualley playing Ginger Rogers. Academy Honorary Award winner Fred Astaire was a dancer, singer, choreographer, and television presenter. He is widely considered the greatest dancer in film history. His stage and subsequent film and television careers spanned a total of 76 years.
HEMSWORTH SHARES FOOTAGE FROM ‘EXTRACTION 2’ PRAGUE SETS
WASHINGTON: Hollywood star Chris Hemsworth has teased his return as mercenary Tyler Rake in the upcoming installment of ‘Extraction’.
As per The Hollywood Reporter, Hemsworth shared a short video via the Russo Brothers Instagram account, with a caption declaring that the action sequel is “coming in hot…or actually, freezing cold.” In a snowy location, Hemsworth appeared, slightly bloodied, on a train with stuntman-turned-director Sam Hargrave, who helmed the 2020 hit. “First day shooting on Extraction 2,” Hemsworth said in the video, adding that they are in Prague. “Two things are different from the last film. One: very very cold. Two: I’m alive. How? You’ll have to find out. Watch the movie. Stay tuned,” he added. ‘Extraction’ told the story of Rake, an Australian black market mercenary who is enlisted to rescue the kidnapped son of an international crime lord. Upon its release, the film was viewed on Netflix by an estimated 90 million households. The upcoming sequel has been penned by ‘Avengers: Endgame’ filmmaker Joe Russo.
SAMANTHA PRABHU’S NEW FILM ‘YASHODA’ BEGINS SHOOTING
MUMBAI: Samantha’s new movie has been titled ‘Yashoda.’ The shooting of the project commenced on Monday with a puja ceremony. Sivalenka Krishna Prasad, who has produced films such as Aditya 369 and Sammohanam, is making ‘Yashoda’ under his Sridevi Movies banner.
Touted to be a new-age thriller, the film will be directed by director duo Hari and Harish. Samantha plays an author-backed role in ‘Yashoda.’ The film will release in Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, and Hindi.
Speaking at the shoot commencement event, Sivalenka Krishna Prasad said, “We all know that Samantha attained pan-India attention with ‘The Family Man 2.’ In accordance with her current image, we have conceived a thriller that caters to a wide section of the audience.”
The filming of ‘Yashoda’ is expected to be completed by March 2022. Still, more details about the cast, crew and the film’s release date will be announced soon by the makers. On the work front, Samantha has ‘Shaakuntalam’ and ‘Kaathu Vaakula Rendu Kaadhal’ in her kitty.
WHAT’S A.R. RAHMAN’S ADVICE FOR HIS DAUGHTERS?
NEW DELHI: There is no better feeling for parents to see their children growing up and working hard for their dreams. Music maestro A.R. Rahman could easily relate to this as his daughters Raheema Rahman and Khatija Rahman are proudly following his legacy.
Both Raheema and Khatija are musicians. They have even performed along with their father. Speaking about his talented daughters, A.R. Rahman told ANI, “They have the toughest mindsets. Anything they do, they feel like they have to be good enough…all these things come to their mind. So I keep telling them not to be worried about anything, just do it, just do the stuff and then you will have your own personality…God will bless you and nobody is going to compare them.”
PADMINI’S RECREATION OF ‘YEH GALIYAN YEH CHAUBARA’ OUT NOW
MUMBAI: Priyaank Sharma the brainchild of Dhamaka Records has released Padmini Kolhapure’s iconic song from Prem Rog, ‘Yeh Galiyan Yeh Chaubara’. The song is sung by the actress herself in her soulful voice and melodious tune.
Earlier, Dhamaka Records had topped all the music charts and made headlines for their stellar song, Hum Hindustani, featuring 15 legendary artists including, Amitabh Bachchan, Lata Mangeshkar, Shraddha Kapoor, etc. Now Priyaank Sharma’s label has released the biggest heartwarming wedding anthem and it is sure they will yet again top all the music charts.
Talking about the song Padmini Kolhapure says, ‘While working on this song, it took me back to the memories of shooting the song back in the day. It makes me so happy to feel that zest again and I’m elated to be able to recreate the iconic song once again!’ Priyaank Sharma on launch of the song said, “I wanted to recreate this song even before we started the label. This has been my mothers most special song for me and to get a chance to recreate it and release it on our label is more than special! A big big thank you to Saregama, we hope everyone gives as much love to it as they gave the original.”
SAIF BEGINS SHOOTING FOR 2ND SCHEDULE OF ‘VIKRAM VEDHA’
NEW DELHI: After wrapping their first shoot schedule spanning 27 days in Abu Dhabi with Hrithik Roshan, the makers of ‘Vikram Vedha’ have begun the production of the film’s second shoot schedule with actor Saif Ali Khan in Lucknow. The news was confirmed by Indian film critic and trade analyst Taran Adarsh on his Instagram handle. “’VIKRAM VEDHA’: HRITHIK COMPLETES ABU DHABI SHOOT, SAIF BEGINS IN LUCKNOW… #VikramVedha concluded its first schedule spanning 27 days in #AbuDhabi with #HrithikRoshan… Second schedule has begun with #SaifAliKhan in #Lucknow… 30 Sept 2022 release.” The upcoming project is the Hindi remake of the 2017 Tamil film ‘Vikram Vedha’. The movie is being directed by the makers of the original film, Pushkar-Gayathri, and produced by Neeraj Pandey under his company Friday Filmworks in association with Reliance Entertainment and Y Not Studios.
Radhika Apte will also play a pivotal role in the movie slated to hit the screens on 30 September 2022.
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