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Netflix releases new Marco Polo featurette

- January 29th, 2015

In case you haven’t checked out Netflix’s historical epic Marco Polo yet, the streaming service has released a new featurette to entice potential viewers to visit 13th-Century Mongolia.

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Photo: Benedict Wong stars as Emperor Kublai Khan in Netflix’s Marco Polo

The new clip gives us fresh insight from the show’s producers and cast members, including series creator John Fusco – who stresses that “the story of Marco Polo can only be told on a big scale” – and stars Lorenzo Richelmy and Olivia Cheng.

While critics largely dismissed the wooden acting and over-the-top dialogue in the show’s first season, Fusco earned some respect for his emphasis on intense kung-fu scenes, intricate costumes and exotic landscapes. As Fusco explains in the featurette, the $90-million production brought them to Italy, Kazakhstan and Malaysia.

Netflix recently announced that the series will be coming back for a 10-episode second season. If you haven’t watched season one yet, here’s a sample of what it’s all about:


Netflix will be killing Twin Peaks and these other titles in January

- December 27th, 2014

Red alert! These eight titles will be rotating off of Netflix Canada on January 1. So, if you were planning to add them to your viewing list, you need to make that happen, ASAP. Thankfully, Netflix has given us some alternatives to each of these titles, in case you’re in the mood for something similar.

SHOWS

Californication, seasons 1-4
Alternatives: Breaking Bad, Suits

SHOW27Calif

The Office (U.K.), series 1-2
Alternatives: Derek, The Inbetweeners

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Stargate SG-1, seasons 1-10
Alternatives: Star Trek: The Next Generation, Heroes
SHOW27Stargate

Twin Peaks, seasons 1-2
Alternatives: Hemlock Grove, Supernatural

SHOW27TwinPeaks

MOVIES

The Campaign
Alternatives: Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, The Other Guys

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Accepted
Alternatives: 21 Jump Street, Superbad

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Planet of the Apes (1968)
Alternatives: King Kong, Rise of the Planet of the Apes
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Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Alternatives: World War Z, Resident Evil: Afterlife

SHOW27Dawn

Marco Polo: Is it really the next Game of Thrones?

- December 13th, 2014

Man, I really can’t wait for Season 5 of Game of Thrones. Everyone I talk to, whether it’s my uncle, or neighbour, or barber, is excitedly thinking the same thing – we’re only a few months away from revisiting Westeros and seeing the fallout from Tyrion Lannister’s bold (and violent) choices in the Season 4 finale.

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Aside from viewing past seasons of Thrones over and over again, what should you watch in the meantime? Industry buzz suggests that Netflix’s new historical series, Marco Polo, might hit the spot. The show, which recently hit the streaming service, follows the Italian explorer as he finds himself in the court of Mongolian Emperor Kublai Khan. The 10-episode first season reportedly cost US$90 million to make, second only to Game of Thrones as the most expensive series ever.

And while many critics have been comparing the epic series to the HBO hit – even Marco Polo executive producer Harvey Weinstein has described the shows as looking similar – not everyone working on the Netflix series thinks it’s an accurate comparison.

“There’s something very different tonally about our show,” says Marco Polo director and executive producer Daniel Minahan, who has also directed several episodes of Game of Thrones. “I think (Marco) is more of an adventure show. We have kung fu fighting, and there’s an element of playfulness about this that I hope comes through, and a kind of wonder, which is I think different from Game of Thrones.”

And while Marco Polo definitely contains political maneuvering, spying and shifting relationships – some of the best things about Game of Thrones – it goes about it in a different way.

“We have a lot of that, but it’s different, because we have one protagonist,” says Minahan. “That’s sort of our eyes into this world.”

Australian actor Remy Hii, who plays Prince Jingim in the Netflix series, says comparisons between the two shows are inevitable, especially since everyone and their barber are watching Game of Thrones.

“I think Game of Thrones is just running so hot at the moment,” he says. “They really opened up fantasy to the mainstream. Whereas, we’re working with a very epic, grand, historical story. It is rooted in fact. And as an artist, I don’t think that you want to compare yourself too much…I’m a huge Game of Thrones fan, I love it, but I recognize that what we’re doing here is very different.”

What do you think? Is it fair to put both shows in the same category? And, more importantly, does Marco Polo contain that binge-worthy quality that makes Thrones so addictive?

Stream This: Three picks for this week

- June 23rd, 2014

Each week, we look at three digital entertainment offerings to stream or download. Here’s what we’re looking at this week:

bad words
Bad Words
Jason Bateman makes his directorial debut with this black comedy about a middle-aged man who hijacks a spelling bee competition. Find it on: iTunes

SHOW24Garfield

The Amazing Spider-Man
Now that you’re seen the sequel in theatres, log onto Netflix and revisit the origin story – the film that made us realize that Andrew Garfield could kick Tobey Maguire’s butt any day. Find it on: Netflix

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Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
Johnny Knoxville stars as an 86-year-old grandfather, who embarks on a road trip with his grandson while getting into trouble along the way. This is the first Jackass movie to be nominated for an Oscar. Find it on: Netflix

In this week’s Stream This column, we chat with Orange is the New Black‘s Uzo Aduba about the respect she feels for her character Suzanne ‘Crazy Eyes’ Warren. Check it out here.

Stream This: Three picks for this week

- June 16th, 2014

Each week, we look at three digital entertainment offerings to stream or download. Here’s what we’re looking at this week:

Uzo
Uzo Aduba’s Orange is the New Black audition
This joke audition tape shows talented actress Uzo Aduba trying out for every single role in Orange is the New Black, before being cast as fan favourite Crazy Eyes. There’s some colourful language in this one, so be cautious if you’ve got kids in the room. Find it on: Funny Or Die

Cruise
Rock of Ages
While this 2012 musical didn’t leave anyone wanting an encore, it’s still fun to watch actors like Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin and Julianne Hough play dress-up. It arrives later this week. Find it on: Netflix

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Watching Game of Thrones with people who haven’t read the books
If you’ve already devoured all of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones books, then you’ll relate to this sketch. Just don’t send us any spoilers, alright? Find it on: College Humor

In this week’s Stream This column, we look ahead to the fourth season of Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. Check it out here.