Carve out the time to check out these anticipated big- and small-screen releases.
The Dark Tower
(February 17, Sony Pictures)
Fans of author Stephen King’s enormously popular series of fantasy-adventure novels are already champing at the bit in anticipation of this epic production, which reportedly is not a straight adaptation of any single book in the series but rather an imaginative amalgamation of western, sci-fi, and phantasmagorical elements from various Dark Tower novels. The producers have played their cards close to the vest in terms of revealing precise plot points. But never mind: We’re eager to see Idris Elba as the straight-shooting Roland Deschain — aka The Gunslinger — and Matthew McConaughey as the ageless sorcerer Walter Padick.
Ten years after riding alongside Russell Crowe in the well-received 3:10 to Yuma remake, Christian Bale will be back in the saddle again for this gritty period drama directed by Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart). Bale stars as Capt. Joseph J. Blocker, a decorated Army officer who agrees to escort a dying Cheyenne war chief (played by C&I favorite Wes Studi) and his family back to their tribal lands in 1892. Unfortunately, the journey from an isolated New Mexico outpost to the grasslands of Montana calls for a hard ride through dangerous territory. Supporting players include Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl), Stephen Lang (Tombstone), and another C&I fave, Adam Beach.
Woman Walks Ahead
Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain (The Help, Zero Dark Thirty) stars in a fact-based drama about the remarkable Catherine Weldon, a widowed Brooklyn artist who journeyed to the Dakota Territory in 1889 to paint a portrait of Lakota Sioux leader Sitting Bull (Michael Greyeyes) and became an unlikely ally of the Plains Indians during their struggle to retain their land. Directed by Susanna White, the film was shot on location in New Mexico, and costars Chaske Spencer (Winter in the Blood) and Sam Rockwell (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford).
Inspired by Million Dollar Quartet, the hit Broadway musical about the legendary 1956 jam session performed by Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins at the Sun Records studio in Memphis, this ambitious limited-run series focuses on the early years of rock ’n’ roll — and the birth of the civil rights movement — with a cast that includes Chad Michael Murray as Sun Records founder Sam Phillips, Billy Gardell as “Colonel” Tom Parker, Drake Milligan as Elvis Presley, Kevin Fonteyne as Johnny Cash, Christian Lees as Jerry Lee Lewis, Jonah Lees as Jimmy Swaggart, and Trevor Donovan as Eddy Arnold.
The second 10-episode cycle of WGN’s acclaimed dramatic series continues to focus on the efforts of fugitive slaves to make their way from bondage on a Georgia plantation to freedom in the northern states and Canada during the 1850s. In Season 2, two real-life historical figures loom large in the narrative: Aisha Hinds joins the cast as Harriet Tubman, the most famous engineer of the Underground Railroad, while singer-songwriter John Legend (an executive producer of Underground) appears as the esteemed orator and abolitionist Frederick Douglass.
AMC is ready to fill the gap left by the departure of Hell on Wheels with a weekly drama based on the best-selling novel by Philipp Meyer (who’s on board as co-writer and co-producer). The first 10-episode season will compare and contrast parallel narratives in two different time periods. In one, we follow the story of young Eli McCullough after he is kidnapped and indoctrinated into a tribe of Comanches in 1849. In the other, set 60 years later, we see a grown Eli struggle to maintain his family’s cattle empire during the turbulent Bandit Wars of South Texas. Pierce Brosnan (pictured above) plays the elder Eli, a ruthless family patriarch who applies the brutal Comanche worldview to his business dealings — especially after he discovers oil on his property.
(Date TBA, Netflix)
From executive producer Steven Soderbergh and writer-director Scott Frank (screenwriter of Out of Sight) comes an offbeat limited-run series set in the Wild West of 1884. Jeff Daniels plays outlaw Frank Griffin, a bad-to-the-bone hombre dead-set on tracking down Roy Goode (Jack O’Connell), his former colleague — and surrogate son — turned mortal enemy. While Roy lies low at the ranch of beautiful Alice Fletcher (Michelle Dockery of Downton Abbey), Frank and his gang follow a trail that leads them to La Belle, New Mexico — a town where almost all of the menfolk have been killed in a mining accident. Costars include Sam Waterston as Marshal John Cook, a lawman determined to capture Frank, and Kim Coates (Sons of Anarchy) as an arrogant mining company rep.
From the January 2017 issue.