Every year, The CW Upfront presents a rather delightful prospect: glimpses of new opportunities for romance, action and swooning and more young, hot actors than anyone’s brain can handle (and hopefully all the advertisers will want to buy). The 2013 presentation was no different and the CW has clearly tapped into its best genres for its slate of new shows: ill-fated lovers, warring supernatural species, and (of course) handsome hunks.
The Originals As we saw in the crossover pilot episode of The Vampire Diaries, The Originals is packed with the sex and intrigue we’ve come to expect from Klaus and his family of original vampires. Mix that with a little voodoo by way of New Orleans, and we’ve got what feels like a fresh take on a set of characters we’ve known for three seasons. While we’ll miss Rebekah, Klaus, and Elijah on TVD, there’s not a single piece of this that isn’t beckoning us like a werewolf to the new moon. “Family is power,” according to Klaus and despite the lack of new footage in this preview, we’re firmly in agreement.
The Tomorrow People “In Season 2 [of Arrow], I get to share Wednesday nights with my cousin Robbie,” said Stephen Amell before these clips played. In case you didn’t make the connection, Robbie Amell, star of The Tomorrow People, is cousin to Arrow’s leading shirtless hero Stephen Amell. Banking on that familial connection, The Tomorrow People and its mutants warring against the tyranny of human prejudice aim to nab a little Arrow action in its slot right after the superhero saga. Luckily for the younger Amell, his series looks to have a quite a hook with his troubled hero. Despite the similarities to the X-Men, the show plays well with Amell's (Robbie's, that is) charms and the charisma of his co-stars, including Lost alum Mark Pelligrino as the ruthless antagonist. The action is high and the emotions run deep. It shouldn’t take much for Arrow’s audience to fall in love with The Tomorrow People.
Reign Switching gears a little bit is Reign, which takes on the tale of Mary Queen of Scots as she is sent to France to be married off to a young prince. What she finds is a handsome young man who has no intention of actually tying the knot and danger beyond her wildest dreams. The series looks to be soapy, sexy, and dangerous, like a looser, PG answer to The Tudors. While there is a bit of a triangle, the real draw is Mary’s need to act as a strong heroine, something that is a bit different for the network. If done right, this could be a refreshing new twist on the CW formula.
Star-Crossed Star Wars: The Clone Wars and 90210 fans, rejoice. Matt Lanter is not only returning to television right after both of his beloved series have ended, but he’s returning as the perfect hybrid of his past characters: a sci-fi hunk in live-action. In this mid-season show, Lanter plays a teen alien who suffers persecution as a child but makes it to his high school just in time to participate in a program aimed at integrating the alien population with the humans. Isn't Lanter a little long in the tooth to still be in high school? At the center of it all is Lanter’s romance with his human schoolmate, played by Aimee Teegarden of Friday Night Lights fame. Will they make it? Not without episodes upon episodes of drama, that’s for sure.
The 100 No wonder there have been lots of comparisons between this series and The Hunger Games, though the feel is somewhat more along the lines of Battle Royale, the Japanese movie that real film nerds claim was the inspiration for The Hunger Games. In the future, a space society expels its juvenile delinquents to Earth as guinea pigs meant to assess the inhabitable nature of the ravaged planet and deal with the radioactive deer, new enemies, and violence between the young criminals themselves. There’s not much emphasis on the potential romance in the series, which could be dangerous for a series on a network were love stories are a vital part of every show. But if the characters, story, and action are good enough (see: Supernatural), it just might work.
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler and follow Hollywood.com @Hollywood_com
More:CW Reveals New Fall 2013 ScheduleCW Orders 'The Originals,' Re-ups on 'Hart of Dixie' & MoreFox Reveals Previews of New 2013 Line-up
From Our Partners:Zoe Saldana Strips Down For Magazine (Celebuzz)33 Child Stars: Where Are They Now? (Celebuzz)
There's an allure to imperfection. With his latest drama Lawless director John Hillcoat taps directly into the side of human nature that draws us to it. Hillcoat finds it in Prohibition history a time when the regulations of alcohol consumption were subverted by most of the population; He finds it in the rural landscapes of Virginia: dingy raw and mesmerizing. And most importantly he finds it in his main character Jack Bondurant (Shia LaBeouf) the scrappy third brother of a moonshining family who is desperate to prove his worth. Jack forcefully injects himself into the family business only to discover there's an underbelly to the underbelly. Lawless is a beautiful film that's violent as hell striking in a way only unfiltered Americana could be.
Acting as the driver for his two outlaw brothers Forrest (Tom Hardy) and Howard (Jason Clarke) isn't enough for Jack. He's enticed by the power of the gangster figure and entranced by what moonshine money can buy. So like any fledgling entrepreneur Jack takes matters into his own hands. Recruiting crippled family friend/distillery mastermind Cricket (Dane DeHaan) the young whippersnapper sets out to brew his own batch sell it to top dog Floyd Banner and make the family rich. The plan works — but it puts the Bondurant boys in over their heads with a new threat: the corrupt law enforcers of Chicago.
Unlike many stories of crime life Lawless isn't about escalation. The movie drifts back and forth leisurely popping in moments like the beats of a great TV episode. One second the Bondurants could be talking shop with their female shopkeep Maggie Beauford (Jessica Chastain). The next Forrest is beating the bloody pulp out of a cop blackmailing their operation. The plot isn't thick; Hillcoat and screenwriter Nick Cave preferring to bask in the landscapes the quiet moments the haunting terror that comes with a life on the other side of the tracks. A feature film doesn't offer enough time for Lawless to build — it recalls cinema-level TV currently playing on outlets like HBO and AMC that have truly spoiled us — but what the duo accomplish is engrossing.
Accompanying the glowing visuals and Cave's knockout workout on the music side (a toe-tapping mix of spirituals bluegrass and the writer/musician's spine-tingling violin) are muted performances from some of Hollywood's rising stars. Despite LaBeouf's off-screen antics he lights up Lawless and nails the in-deep whippersnapper. His playful relationship with a local religious girl (Mia Wasikowska) solidifies him as a leading man but like everything in the movie you want more. Tom Hardy is one of the few performers who can "uurrr" and "mmmnerm" his way through a scene and come out on top. His greatest sparring partner isn't a hulking thug but Chastain who brings out the heart of the impenetrable beast. The real gem of Lawless is Guy Pearce as the Bondurant trio's biggest threat. Shaved eyebrows pristine city clothes and a temper like a rabid wolverine Pearce's Charlie Rakes is the most frightening villain of 2012. He viciously chews up every moment he's on screen. That's even before he starts drawing blood.
Lawless is the perfect movie for the late August haze — not quite the Oscary prestige picture or the summertime shoot-'em-up. It's drama that has its moonshine and swigs it too. Just don't drink too much.