BIG RELEASE FRIDAY: Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame To Kill For
BIG PICTURE: It's sequel time, which means more close-ups of Jessica Alba's curves and Mickey Rourke's facial crags! Ah, Sin City. A place where "outlaws become heroes." It's like Sherwood Forest, only without the trees and zero chance of merry men. It's literally a world of black and white -- except for a dash of colour for explosions, gunfire, lipstick and leather. And it's the only place a guy like Bruce Willis can get away with lines like "Death is just like life in Sin City. It always wins." Co-directors Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller return for this pulpy sequel, adding the likes of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Josh Brolin and Eva Green to the ensemble cast. Powers Boothe (Deadwood, Nashville) plays a dastardly, all-powerful senator/gangster -- no actor today so effortlessly radiates villainy. The city erupts into all-out war when its sombre, gritty -- and occasionally sadistic -- anti-heroes form an alliance to take down the top of the city's rotten food chain.
FORECAST: Not for the faint of heart or easily offended, but this series is the closest thing to bringing a graphic novel to life. (You know it's based on a comic book, because only in comic books do women who look like Alba profess their love to guys who look like Rourke's character, Marv... Marv makes Frankenstein look like Fabio.)
HONOURABLE MENTION: The Prince (Friday). Another dame to kill for, only this time it's an assassin's daughter. Bruce Willis gets double-feature billing this week, in this case hamming it up as a vengeful killer who kidnaps the daughter of retired assassin Paul (Jason Patric). Drawn back into his old life, Paul enlists a former colleague, Sam (John Cusack), for the rescue mission. Cusack still looks more soccer dad than contract killer, but expect him to play scene-stealer with one-liners and charming indifference (think Val Kilmer's Doc Holliday in Tombstone). Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson also plays one of the baddies.
BIG EVENT: Intruders (Aug. 23, Space, 9 p.m.)
BIG PICTURE: It's Invasion of the Body Snatchers meets The X-Files meets... Freaky Friday. This BBC America limited series is a complex, carefully crafted supernatural yarn about a cult that has learned the secret to immortality: possessing the bodies of others. (I'm a little skeptical, but this could explain how Matthew McConaughey suddenly learned how to act.) John Simm plays a former cop whose search for his missing wife (Mira Sorvino) takes him down the rabbit hole. (Note: Wonderland isn't on the other side. It's mainly creepy possessed children and shady cultists.)
FORECAST: Intriguing premise, eight tantalizing episodes and great pedigree in writer/executive producer Glen Morgan (The X-Files). We're ready to be taken! (For the record, if I could "body hop," I'd take over George Clooney. Goodbye column, hello supermodels, Italian villa and Matt Damon on speed-dial.)
HONOURABLE MENTION: Doctor Who (Space, Saturday, 7 p.m.); Outlander (Aug. 24, Showcase, 9 p.m.). Time Lords, evil alien robots called Daleks, dinosaurs and a dimension-travelling 1960s British police box? It must be the debut of the new season of Doctor Who, starring the new doctor, Peter Capaldi. Think an older, spookier and far less flirty doctor... Not enough time travel for you? The Canadian première of Outlander is essentially Braveheart meets Back to the Future, with a touch of Game of Thrones and a splash of Harlequin romance novels. The series is adapted from Diana Gabaldon's bestselling novels and executive-produced by Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica). It follows the trials and titillations of Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe), a married 1945 combat nurse mysteriously hurtled back in time to 1743 Scotland, where she soon falls for Jamie (Sam Heughan), a charming, passionate Scottish Highlander battling the British. Claire is torn between irreconcilable loves and times periods. But, c'mon, who can resist a man in a kilt?
BIG RELEASE TUESDAY: Bahamas (Bahamas is Afie)
BIG PICTURE: This pseudo self-titled album finds Canadian singer-songwriter Afie Jurvanen, who goes by the stage name Bahamas, in fine form. The Toronto folk-rocker is one of the country's finest musicians, and his third album is a lush, endearing followup to the magic he strummed on 2012's Barchords. Poetic, whimsical, earnest lyrics meet pop tempos and front-porch guitar strumming, accompanied by occasional strings and spellbinding harmony.
FORECAST: Soulful and genuine, Afie's music makes you feel -- or wish -- you've know him forever. My prediction? His well-deserved success will lead to indie bands called Aruba, Jamaica, Bermuda, Key Largo, Montego and, of course... Kokomo.
HONOURABLE MENTION: Smokey Robinson (Smokey and Friends). The Motown R&B legend reinvents his classics with duet collaboration with the likes of CeeLo Green, Steven Tyler, Elton John and James Taylor... Sadly, no Miley Cyrus. Smokey's too old for twerking.