Archive for October, 2012


Well you don’t really need to look hard to find the big news of this week and when the announcement came yesterday I think it took everybody by surprise! Not content with already owning Pixar, without a doubt the best animation company in the world, back in 2010 Disney paid $4.2billion to take over Marvel Entertainment. And now on top of all that Disney have forked out around $4billion once again to purchase LucasFilm meaning that Disney now owns Star Wars. News which will no doubt be seen as both positive and negative among fans.

Disney have announced that with the rights going to them they are planning to release a new Star Wars film in 2015, with the next instalments coming every other year. These would effectively be Chapters 7, 8 and 9. With the horrible reception that the Episodes 1, 2 and 3 received you can see why fans would not want any more damage done to their cherished sci-fi western series, yet Disney do seem to get everything right; just look at what they’ve achieved with Marvel! There is no shortage of stories and characters in the Star Wars canon and new stories in such a wide and real world can be easily thought of for those with that ability. With a release date set for 2015 you have to imagine that something is already in the works and a director could soon be announced with only three years to work on the project. It is unknown as of yet if any previously seen characters will return and in what form.

Another piece of information from this deal is the fact that George Lucas will not be directing. This will be well received from fans, no doubt, who perhaps feel that in recent years Lucas has done more harm than good to the series and is using it basically to just milk the name for as much as is humanly possible. With science fiction doing so well right now with all the superhero movies being released and the reinvention of Star Trek Disney obviously feel that they can bring something new to the table with Star Wars and that news can only be good.

The deal struck here also concerns the ownership of Industrial Light & Magic, the special effects company will also be traded into Disney’s hands, along with the rights of other LucasFilm productions such as Indiana Jones although Disney have said that Star Wars is the only series they plan to continue at this time. And with Disney having produced Pirates of the Caribbean and National Treasure recently you can see why they don’t want to be seen to be doing too much of the same sort of style by throwing out Indy too.

So that’s the real big news of the week.

But there has been some other big news that may have escaped many people’s notice thanks to all of this Star Wars stuff. Not so long ago, Matthew Vaughn stepped down as director of X-men: Days of Future Past and speculation was rife as to who would replace him. Thankfully, his replacement has been found in the form of Bryan Singer(!), the man behind the camera of X-men and X2 which will no doubt please fans! This can only spur rumours on of cast members returning from the original trilogy but anyhow, it is great to see Singer back with the X-men.

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UK Release Date: 25th January 2013

Stars: Taylor Hackford (director), Jason Statham, Jennifer Lopez, Michael Chiklis, Nick Nolte, Wendell Pierce

Plot: A thief with a unique code of professional ethics is double-crossed by his crew and left for dead. Assuming a new disguise and forming an unlikely alliance with a woman on the inside, he looks to hijack the score of the crew’s latest heist.

Jason Statham’s career over the past few years has been a little bit hit and miss; The Expendables and Safe went down pretty well whereas Crank 2 and Blitz just haven’t particularly impressed a lot of people. Couple this with the fact that Jennifer Lopez is in this film (and she is an atrocious actress) then you may not want to see Parker. But watching the trailer you can tell that this is Jason Statham at his finest; wise-cracking, ass kicking and he is even a good actor!

There are things throughout this trailer that would interest the real Statham fans and fans of the action genre in general. I love watching Jason Statham films and I love seeing his fight scenes as they are some of the best around in modern films in my opinion. In a time where films are full of CGI and actors just fighting made up creations of animators it is refreshing to see Statham going hand to hand with foes.

Whilst obviously Parker will be nothing special in the broad spectrum of films it will be an hour and a half of fun and that is guaranteed. There are some humorous lines through the trailer although “I always follow through” sounds more like a bad case of diarrhoea than something that would strike fear into the heart of enemies.

 

The X-Men series has come under a lot of criticism in it’s time despite the critical success that X-Men, X2 and X-Men: First Class has enjoyed. So if three of the five films have gone down well then why do fans of the X-Men continue to be critical of the series?  A lot of the criticism comes from the messed up continuity of the franchise and if you look hard enough you will find plenty of issues with the continuity throughout all five films; X-Men: The Last Stand came under fire for ruining a lot of hard work that Bryan Singer had set up in the first two instalments and X-Men Origins: Wolverine upset fans by just not being very good and ruining Gambit, a character that fans had wanted to see on screen for far too long for him to just be dismissed like he is.

So when The Wolverine was announced to be yet another film focussing on the escapades of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine the news was met with less than positive response on internet forums. Yet this week, finally, The Wolverine is connecting with fans and getting people actually hyped up due to one little quote that director James Mangold made to Empire magazine. Mangold won fans over by saying “Where this film sits in the universe of the films is after them all, Jean Grey is gone, most of the X-Men are disbanded or gone, so there’s a tremendous sense of isolation for him”. Everybody was assuming The Wolverine would be another prequel because it is set in Japan (the storyline from the comics in Japan happened before Wolverine met the X-Men) and now it appears that everything we thought about this film was untrue.

Everyone wanted a sequel to X-Men: The Last Stand and it seems as though The Wolverine could be the closest thing that we see to this. With this being a sequel it also gives the opportunity for former characters to return to the franchise. Returning characters was hinted at with the other prequel titled Days of Future Past but it seems that maybe fans were misled and Patrick Stewart’s and Famke Janssen’s comments about returning to the franchise could have been meant about The Wolverine rather than Days of Future Past. I, for one, would love to see some of the old characters return and it might be able to give an explanation to what happened to Cyclops, explain Professor X’s return and feature more of Angel perhaps. Unfortunately, I don’t think that this will happen though because the film will be set in Japan.

One of the main things that has been hinted at is that Wolverine would set up the Jean Grey School for Gifted Youngsters and whilst this would be a very touching moment for the character and could set up some more stories for future X-Men you can’t help but feel this SHOULD have been done before the prequels of First Class came into existence. It seems as though The Wolverine will be a stand alone film and you have to hope it will be because right now there are too many strands of the same franchise going on:

X-Men prequels – First Class, Days of Future Past

Wolverine Prequels – Origins

Original X-Men timeline – X-Men, X2, The Last Stand

Wolverine sequels – The Wolverine

That is four different strands of the same franchise and you can see why so much confusion and continuity errors will be made! However, James Mangold says that he wanted to set the film in the timeline so you imagine he will try to stay true to events that have already happened. Mangold has been hit (3:10 to Yuma, Walk the Line) and miss (Knight & Day) in his career so far but hopefully The Wolverine will be a hit! Regrettably, hopefully The Wolverine will be the last we see of Hugh Jackman too and the X-Men franchise is finally brought together and made simple once again.

Skyfall Review

The arrival of a new James Bond film is always treated as a special occasion because the Bond films hold such a high place of regard in the history of film. Never has that been more true than this year with the arrival of Bond 23: Skyfall. 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of James Bond on screen and with the amount of time fans have been waiting Skyfall has to be something exceptional… and it is.

Skyfall sees M come under review and her ability to head up the Secret Service in doubt. This is after the Secret Service’s intelligence is broken and a list of agents has been stolen and in attempt to retrieve that list Bond has gone missing, presumed dead. However, when the Service itself comes under attack at the hands of suspected terrorists Bond is drawn back to London only to find that the person behind the attacks, Raoul Silva, claims a personal connection to both Bond and M, which forces Bond to question his loyalty to M.

Director Sam Mendes’ take on the world’s most famous spy marks the first time that an academy award winning director has taken the helm of a James Bond flick. Citing Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight as one of the main influences on his take on the film you could tell that he was clearly going to make sure he put in a shift directing Skyfall. And he does not disappoint. Skyfall is shot superbly and combines a rare treat in Bond films of giving the characters equal billing with the action sequences, without one outweighing the other.

Right from the very first sequence, which includes a motorbike chase over rooftops as well as a shootout on a train, the bar is set very high. The set pieces are absolutely wonderful, explosions galore all the way through the film but this is not just action for the sake of it which is clear by the amount of emphasis put on characters throughout the film. Mendes manages to really add layers to Bond, M and the villain of the piece Raoul Silva and it is brilliant to watch these characters grow throughout the film.

Many fans of the James Bond series say that a Bond film is only as good as the villain and Javier Bardem as Raoul Silva delivers a villain not easily forgotten. As a rogue agent he is an equal match physically for Bond but his intellect is on a rather high level too and it seems as though his resources are endless. There is something incredibly creepy and sinister about the character and this performance is easily the best of the film. Although perhaps too much was put in to Bardem’s character because it seems as though the Bond girls were somewhat forgotten. After seeing all the promotional shots for the film I was expecting both Naomie Harris and Bérénice Marlohe to play a much larger part in Skyfall than they actually did and it seemed to render their characters almost irrelevant other than to have something nice to look at.

Is it Sean Connery? Is it Roger Moore? The debate goes on and on among fan communities about who is the best Bond and with Skyfall Daniel Craig goes a long way to stamping out any doubt that would deny him of the accolade. Craig is a wonderful fit the Bond role, he’s a rough and ready guy with a charm to him; he delivers his one liners excellently and you can’t help but like his portrayal. Couple that with the fact that Craig actually is a very very good actor and you get a great combination of on screen presence. And I have to mention that Ben Whishaw certainly pulls off the Q role perfectly.

Skyfall is a Bond film that, for me, stands alone above the rest. It does a great deal in differentiating itself from the rest of the films and makes sure it is better than Quantum of Solace. The opening sequence, the soundtrack, the title sequence; everything is wonderful. And I deny anyone to at least get a smile on their face when the famous James Bond music kicks in the middle of a scene. Skyfall is full of twists, turns and huge explosions that comes to its conclusion with a fantastic, yet incredibly surprising, ending. Enjoy!

My Rating: 9/10.

“The name’s Bond, James Bond” is one of the most iconic lines in cinema history, almost as iconic as the man himself who says it so often. James Bond is a figure known all across the world, a British Secret Service agent that has saved the world and defeated villains countless times. The Ian Fleming creation has spawned twenty-three canon films and has been played by six different actors, all of whom have been white.

Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and today’s Daniel Craig have all donned the suit and the suave attitude to play the most famous spy that the world has ever seen. But once Daniel Craig steps aside is the path paved for a black actor to take on one of the most famous cinematic roles in history? It certainly looks as though this is now a real possibility where it has never really been given any thought before. Skyfall Bond girl Naomie Harris has let is slip that a black actor has been met by producers to talk about taking on the part, despite Daniel Craig having a contract for another two films. The actor in question is the phenomenal Idris Elba, who would certainly be an inspired choice as his stock continue to grow in Hollywood after roles in huge blockbuster films such as Thor and Prometheus.

Harris is quoted in The Huffington Post as saying “it does seem like there is a possibility in the future that there could very well be a black James Bond. And I would have to vote for Idris because I just finished working with him and he’s a great guy”. I thoroughly believe that the colour of his skin should not be an issue for the casting choice but let’s not forget all the uproar that was caused when Daniel Craig was cast just because he had BLONDE hair! But this is something that Idris Elba has mentioned and spoken about before, in October 2011 he stated “I don’t want to be the black James Bond. Sean Connery wasn’t the Scottish James Bond, and Daniel Craig wasn’t the blue-eyed James Bond, so if I played him, I don’t want to be called the black James Bond”. This makes complete sense; it should be his ability to act as the famous James Bond character that should see him either accepted or declined for the role.

Unfortunately I have been on a few fan forums and a lot of James Bond fans seem to be against this idea with some even saying that this would lead to a ‘gay, then female’ James Bond. Some fans say that making Bond black would go against the creation of Fleming but things are changing in the modern cultural climate and character’s do not stay the same forever. M was once a man in the films, now is a woman. Although I do believe that film fans can be fickle and in the end, if Elba played the part well enough there would be a lot of people backtracking on their previously held opinions.

Let’s not forget that it does appear to be a kind of underlying rule that a Hollywood hero must be either white or Will Smith. This would be a great opportunity for James Bond to not only take their own franchise and name forward but help pave way for better roles for black actors and a more equal chance for actors despite what their race may be.

It is unclear when in time the meetings took place between Elba and the Bond producers, it could even have been before they signed Daniel Craig on to two more films or it could have been after. It is also unclear whether Elba is the only person producers have met with or whether there have been others (black or white actors) who have been approached with a view to replacing Daniel Craig when he eventually steps down. Although, with critics already calling Skyfall the best Bond ever you have to think that fans will want to see plenty more of Craig before any considerations get under way as to who will be next in line.

Bond 23 ‘Skyfall‘ is in cinemas tomorrow (26/10/2012)

After a few weeks that have been fairly quiet on the news front in terms of things that have grabbed my interest this week has exploded and there is a lot to catch upon.

First, let’s start with a small update on the Assassin’s Creed feature film that is being lined up (starring and produced by Michael Fassbender). This will no doubt gain more exposure when it starts filming as Assassin’s Creed is one of the most famous and popular video game franchises of the past few years. Assassin’s Creed has now seen production company New Regency team up with Ubisoft to get this project off the ground; an official statement has said that the movie is being fast tracked and they want to get it out as soon as possible, to the highest standards reachable. Good news as I would hate this one sit in pre-production for years!

Talking of films that have been in pre-production for years: Ghostbusters 3. Obviously, there have been rumours about Ghostbusters 3 knocking around for years but now Deadline are reporting that the studio are hoping to be able to start filming next year, with or without Bill Murray’s permission which has been holding them back so far. So roll on the fantasy casts for the new generation of Ghostbusters: Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Matthew Gray Gubler and Emma Stone are being touted as possible leads.

It has been eleven years since the awful events that struck America. 9/11. And there have been a couple of films about the events, World Trade Center and United 93 and now it looks as though we are going to get another one. September Morn is a film that will detail the findings of the 9/11 Comission and Woody Harrelson, Martin Sheen and Ed Asner are all attached to star so far. But will a film about the findings of 9/11 really be wanted in America? Who knows.

So let’s round up the rest pretty quickly. The Hobbit is set for a December release this year and it has been released this past week that Stephen Colbert (Saturday Night Live) and the brilliant Jim Beaver (Supernatural) will be seen in cameo roles in the huge feature. A running time has also been quoted by Peter Jackson to be around 2 hours and 40 minutes, that’s a grand total of 160 minutes of Middle Earth adventure! Andy Serkis, fresh from directing the second unit on The Hobbit, is set to direct a motion capture film version of George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Serkis may also star in the film, nothing is confirmed yet, but he is clearly a great choice to direct after bringing such famous characters as Gollum and Caeser to life! And finally… Hugh Grant is set to return to his famous romantic comedy roles as he teams up with Music and Lyrics director Marc Lawrence again. No female lead has yet been signed on.

After a lacklustre (lacklustre, disappointing but not bad!) Iron Man 2 there wouldn’t normally be much hype around another sequel but since a little film called The Avengers came out excitement for Iron Man 3 spiked again. Today it has hit an all time high! Nick Fury in The Avengers said that he “still believed in heroes” and now with the first official trailer from Iron Man 3 having been released we have The Mandarin teaching us “lesson number one: heroes, there are no such thing”. Iron Man 3 looks set to be the biggest Iron Man film to date with huge set pieces and massive blockbuster moments, but it also is set to become the most personal and give an insight into how much Tony Stark has changed since we first met him back in 2008.

The official synopsis for Iron Man 3 is thus: “Marvel Studios’ Iron Man 3 pits brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man against an enemy whose reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy’s hands, he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible. This journey, at every turn, will test his mettle. With his back against the wall, Stark is left to survive by his own devices, relying on his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him. As he fights his way back, Stark discovers the answer to the question that has secretly haunted him: does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man?

Here’s the trailer:

There are a lot of things to pick up on from the trailer, to question and to get excited about. There’s the first look at The Mandarin, there’s the return of Don Cheadle as James Rhodes/War Machine, Pepper Potts in great danger, the Iron Patriot armour, the new look golden Iron Man armour, Happy Hogan defeated on the floor, Stark’s clifftop home being destroyed, Tony Stark bruised and battered, Stark and Potts both seemingly attacked by Iron Man armour. It’s action packed!

The Mandarin, played by Ben Kingsley, is Iron Man’s greatest foe from the comic books. It will be a real pleasure for fans to see Iron Man taking on someone that is more than just a man in a machine (Iron Monger and Whiplash in the previous two instalments both had armour). The Mandarin has different qualities, he is the most powerful enemy that Iron Man will ever come up against and his appearance was previously hinted at in Iron Man with the Ten Rings terrorist group that Stark helped put an end to originally.

Anyone who knows anything about Iron Man and Tony Stark (a role made his own by the fantastic Robert Downey Jr) is that he does love to massage his ego so it should come as no surprise that the latest Iron Man suit comes with a splash more of gold than his recent suits. Everyone loves Tony Stark for his quick wit and his cool remarks and this is something that is set to come to precedence with Shane Black writing and directing (the man who previously gave Robert Downey Jr a second chance at fame in the brilliant Kiss Kiss Bang Bang). Black’s incredible dialogue and character arcs will see Tony Stark thrive as a character and will no doubt be a hit with audiences all over the globe.

As for the suits attacking Tony and Pepper in the trailer there are different theories on this one. Perhaps The Mandarin has somehow got control over the suits? However, the theory I am most drawn to at the minute is that which brings the Extremis technology into the story (Extremis is the comic book storyline this film has been inspired by). The Extremis technology allows Stark to control his suits with his mind, this is why we see him being able to bring his Iron Man glove towards him earlier on in the trailer. Anyway, with this Extremis technology it could be programmed so that whenever Tony sensed any danger or fear that the suit would spring into action and protect him and Pepper. Again, this is only a theory and nothing will be proven until we see the end product.

Even though the Iron Man films are known to be big blockbusters I don’t think I can remember any particularly large set pieces from either of the first two films (the break out in Iron Man just after building the first suit and the race track fight with Whiplash in Iron Man 2 being the ones that immediately come to mind) but Iron Man 3 looks set to change all that. With Stark’s home being blown to pieces and the President’s aeroplane coming under attack there are sure to be plenty of edge of your seat moments and this will show that Iron Man is the best Avenger.

Obviously, cameos from other Marvel characters have not been hinted at yet and the one you are most likely to see will be Mark Ruffalo (probably as Bruce Banner, not the Hulk) but I don’t think we’ll know that until the film is released. Iron Man 3 hits cinemas on April 26th 2013.

The countdown to Phase 2 starts now.

 

Starbuck Trailer

UK Release Date: 23rd November 2012.

Stars: Ken Scott (director), Patrick Huard, Julie LeBreton, Antoine Bertrand, Igor Ovadis,

Plot: As his lover announces her pregnancy, a fortysomething slacker receives other life-changing news: 142 people, all of them the result of artificial insemination, have filed a class action lawsuit against him, their biological father.

Every now and then there is a foreign film that I genuinely have an interest in seeing and will seek it out. Whether it be German (Run Lola Run), Asian (House of Flying Daggers) or French (A Prophet – easily one of the best gangster films of all time) and this is another than can be added to the list.

Starbuck is a French language film made in Canada and has already been released in several other countries before we finally get it. It won’t do well in Britain, of course, because it is in French but at Awards festivals around the globe it has been picking up awards very frequently. Just from the synopsis you can tell that this is going to be a very interesting comedy film and the trailer does not disappoint.

I think that with English comedies and American comedies you get a lot of the same things and Starbuck offers something different. The main character, David, seems brilliantly hilarious and the comedy seems very well written. This has the potential to be one of the funniest films for years I think, and that’s just judging by the trailer.

It’s probably only a matter of time before Hollywood remakes Starbuck but lets hope they don’t.

The trend of popular video games being adapted into films for the cinema screen continues with the announcement of casting news in the Need for Speed movie. As you can probably guess from the title Need for Speed are racing games and so you would expect that the films would just be the same as the Fast & Furious franchise and, even though they are great fun films, you don’t want to flood the market with the same material from two different franchises. However, the casting of the lead character has been announced and it is one of the best actors on television: Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad). Aaron Paul is clearly a better actor than the likes of Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and, as much as it pains me to say it, Dwayne Johnson so perhaps Need for Speed will be taking a more dramatic route? I doubt it.

Marvel have been busy this week with announcing a release date for Ant-Man and another one of their projects has been surrounded by casting rumours this week. Captain America: The Winter Soldier has been described as a ‘political thriller’ and will see (judging by the Winter Soldier character in the comics) the return of Cap’s World War 2 comrade Bucky. But casting in two other roles is under way with Mary Elizabeth Winstead being touted for a role likely to be Sharon Carter. And a strong, franchise hopping male character is also under consideration with LOST star (and one of the best characters) Josh Holloway one of the front runners for the role.

There are a lot of pointless sequels being made at the minute and one of those is Woman in Black: Angel of Death. The sequel to the post-Harry Potter Daniel Radcliffe film will not star The Boy Who Lived but will take place several years after the original story. Anyway, Angel of Death now has a director attached and that man in question is Tom Harper. Harper’s television work will be more known that his film work so far having directed episodes of This Is England ’86 as well as the first series of Misfits.

And finally… Janis Joplin is often remembered as one of the greatest musicians of all time. And with biopics of stars from years gone by, especially musicians (Nowhere Boy, Walk The Line) having gone down very well previously it should come as no surprise that a Janis Joplin movie is in the works. Amy Adams is attached to star and Oscar nominated Lee Daniels is in talks to direct; Daniels is best known for critical winner Precious as well as his latest film The Paperboy starring Nicole Kidman and Zac Efron.

UK Release Date: 5th April 2013.

Stars: Kimberly Peirce (director), Chloe Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Judy Greer, Gabriella Wilde.

Plot: A sheltered high school girl unleashes her newly developed telekinetic powers after she is pushed too far by her peers.

This is the first piece of footage we have been able to see for the remake of Carrie, based on the novel by Stephen King. Horror isn’t normally my thing but if this is anything to go by then Carrie could well be something that gets me into the cinema.

Chloe Moretz is a wonderful actress and at such a young age it is obvious that she has a huge future ahead of her. In this teaser trailer we get to see her recreate a famous image from the original film.

Carrie should be in safe hands with Kimberly Peirce at the helm. She hasn’t directed much but when she has it has been terrific; Boys Don’t Cry back in 1999 and the highly under rated Stop-Loss (starring Channing Tatum and Joseph Gordon-Levitt) in 2008 being her stand out projects. She should have another hit on her hands here!

The trailer overall gives off the spooky and paranormal/supernatural vibes you must expect from Carrie and puts you amidst the destruction that has been caused in the town. In just a minute and one simple scene the teaser trailer gives plenty of reasons to be excited about this film.