Oh, May. The overlooked month situated right before the onslaught of the summer blockbusters. While many are finishing school and looking for something to do, the real seat-filler and popcorn movers will not be released for another month or so. But fear not, as there will be plenty to keep you entertained this month including a superhero trifecta, which includes the latest chapters in both the Captain America and X-Men stories. As well as a new Fox series co-produced by Seth Rogen, based off of the Preacher comic book. Star Wars fans also have something to look forward to, as the documentary Elstree 1976 delves into the lives of the small bit players that made up the George Lucas-created universe. The epic mini-series Roots is being remade for a newer generation, and will be a simulcast event broadcasting on multiple networks. And M. Night Shyamalan’s critically acclaimed series Wayward Pines returns for a second season. So your plate should be full this month, enough to tide you over until you’re ready for the summer blockbuster popcorn.
Out May 6th
A long time ago, in a galaxy known as 1970s’ London, a rag-tag clan of workaday actors gathered together in the city’s Elstree Studios to begin working on a sci-fi project that would alter the course of the rest of their lives. Of course, I’m talking about Star Wars, if you couldn’t have guessed by my outstandingly original opening. While some of the names in the George Lucas-created universe would go onto become standards in the lexicon of not only America but throughout the world, (both their given and character names). Others would only live in the memories of diehard fans. Now 40 years later, a new crowdsourced documentary sets out to give those small, yet beloved background players their just due. Elstree 1976, which was made possible by a Kickstarter campaign, and was written and directed by Jon Spira. Spira examines what life was like for those actors in the grand trilogy who were not named Han or Luke, and how, although they were in one of the most famous films of all-time, they have little in the way of fortune and fame to show for it. Spira does speak to some of the main cast as well. As David Prowse, the man behind the iconic Darth Vader mask, recounts practicing his lightsaber routine with Obi-Wan himself, Sir Alec Guinness. Even Jeremy Bulloch, who donned Bobba Fett’s armor in The Empire Strikes Back, tells of his meeting a young Lucas, who informed him that the part he would be playing is rather small. Little did either of them know, that small role, would end up being one of the most seminal characters in the entire sci-fi oeuvre. There may be more in-depth and behind-the-scenes documentaries revolving around the wonderful world of Star Wars, but I’m glad this one puts more of an emphasis on the little guys and the bit players who made that world complete. Elstree 1976 opens in theaters Friday, May 6th.
**If you by chance, do not catch the limited release, check your cable’s video-on-demand platform shortly after the doc premieres in theaters.
On Fox, the 25
Nearly a year after its initial season debut, the M. Night Shyamalan created Wayward Pines returns for another creepy go around. The director takes us back to the twisted small Northwestern town, and picks up where we last saw bewildered Secret Service Agent Ethan Burke, played by Matt Dillon. Burke awoke dazed from a car wreck, after being sent to the backwoods burg in a desperate search for two fellow missing agents. One of them being a former lover of his, played by Carla Gugino, whom he has found settled into the picturesque Idaho town. Burke had come to find that the second agent he was in search of, had been killed. And as idyllic as the tiny town tries to present itself, Burke begins to sense something sinister behind the inhabitants lives. With a strict set of rules set in place by Wayward’s sadistic Sheriff Pope, portrayed by Terrence Howard, Burke began to slowly discover that leaving town, would be harder than he could envision. Townsfolk that make attempts at escaping are ultimately put through what the shady Sheriff refers to as “reckoning.” Which is just a not-so-gentle euphemism for the public execution that befalls those poor souls looking for a way out. This upcoming season will see Jason Patric joining the cast. And as the show is based off of the Blake Crouch trilogy of books, there’s a good chance a third season will be added to complete the storyline. Given the acclaim the first season garnered, accompanied by last year’s film ‘The Visit, Shyamalan has made somewhat of a comeback. Now everyone is awaiting the inevitable plot-twists, which became the writer/director’s staple. So much so, that it began to seem hacky in some circles. Although it is possible, that M. Night is just setting us up for the ultimate curveball, one we will never see coming. The second season of Wayward Pines begins on Fox Wednesday, May 25th at 9pm.
Given all of the remakes and reboots we’ve been inundated with in the past decade or so, one story that seems to make a lot of sense to introduce to a new audience would be the iconic series Roots. To some viewers, especially younger ones, watching a historically based series, let alone one that takes a searing look at a not-so-proud moment in American history, may not be there idea of a good way to spend some Memorial Day. Even fictitious hits like the mega-popular Game of Thrones, have helped to stoke a historic revival in a sense, Roots seems to be a timely reminder, in a time where we’re still dealing with many of the same issues that the figures in these pieces dealt with. As the current Black Lives Matter movement could easily illustrate. While many Millennials are either unaware of, or have a cursory knowledge of the story of Kunta Kinte, they were benefactors of the impact that the original 1977 run of the series made on American culture, for good or ill. As sadly, through time, the series lost much of its power and became a punch line of sorts. In the remake, producers have lined up a slew of big names in an attempt to reach that newer demographic. Laurence Fishburne, Forest Whitaker and Anna Paquin are set to star in the modern version. They’ve even tapped Questlove to write the main theme and score. Whether the latest take on the old tale will have the same cultural effect the first Roots had on the American conscious, will be interesting to see. The Roots remake will be another television event, as the series will be simulcast over a series of networks, including A&E, History, and the Lifetime channels. The simulcast begins Memorial Day, Monday, May 30th at 9pm.
A Superhero Trifecta
Contains: Captain America: Civil War film, X-Men Apocalypse film, and Preacher TV series.
The latest installments in the line of Superhero releases is about to hit the masses this month. Fans will be treated to a trifecta featuring two films and one TV series premiering on AMC. First up is the third film in the Captain America franchise, Captain America: Civil War, opening in theaters Friday, May 6th. Next is the Seth Rogen produced Preacher series debuting on AMC, Sunday, May 22nd, at 10pm. And the X-Men: Apocalypse film starting Friday, May 27th rounds out the month. So fans should feel safe and secure, knowing their heroes will be there to entertain them throughout May.
Returns May 4th
Things were not going so great for comedian Marc Maron, during the last season of his hit IFC series, Maron. His character with a long and storied past of substance abuse, was on the verge of a breakthrough with his own television talk show. Tumbling off of the wagon yet again, becoming heavily addicted to the painkiller OxyContin, Maron found himself shooting his shot at success in the foot, and losing everything he owns, including his house and much-beloved cats. This upcoming season we get to see Maron really hit rock-bottom, as he is living in a rented out storage locker, a circumstance he conveniently refers to as a “studio apartment situation”. And with the help of a friend, fellow comedian Dave Anthony, Maron reluctantly, but ultimately puts himself into a clean living center, in the hopes of reviving his damaged career. We will get to watch if the curmudgeonly comic will be able to overcome his knee-jerky stance towards rehab, which he so lovingly referred to as “a resort for people with no self-control”. And also see if he can kill the demons he has been wrestling with for most of his adult life. For given the number of talented folks we’ve lost at a way-too-early of an age, it would be a shame to see another gifted mind be silenced by something they could have possibly controlled. But Maron is resilient, and his humor is as strong and biting as ever. So I hope he will be gracing us with his presence for years to come. Lord knows, especially in a chaotic year of election such as this one, we need a voice like Maron’s to help us laugh at the absurdities of this mortal coil. The new season of Maron begins Wednesday, May 4th at 9pm.