Archive for November, 2012


With the news this week that Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen and Hugh Jackman will all be reprising their roles as Professor Xavier, Magneto and Wolverine from the original trilogy in Days of Future Past, I thought it would be fun to take a look at characters from the X-Men universe that are yet to make it to the big screen in a true capacity and who should play them. Here are my thoughts on the top five I would most like to see:

 

Cable

We’ll start with Cable, one of the most popular X-Men in the comic books. Cable is the time-travelling son of Scott Summers (Cyclops) and Madelyne Pryor (a clone of Jean Grey) and his back story would probably have to be changed in order to fit in with this film series. Although, saying that, with what seems to be a time traveling element added to the series with Days of Future Past then perhaps it is a plausible addition. Suggestions for this role put forward by fans have included Dominic Purcell, Clive Owen (two good actors but bad choices for this role) and Kurt Russell (a better choice). But my favourite is Stephen Lang. This week, Lang has come out and expressed an interest in playing the character and, while he may need to bulk up a little bit more, I think Lang definitely has the bad-assery needed to play Cable.

https://i1.wp.com/www.comicbookmovie.com/images/users/uploads/14267/Stephen%20Lang%20-%20Cable.jpg

 

Bishop

Bishop is another time traveling mutant in the X-Men universe and comes from a dystopian future. Again, a little back story change may be necessary to include Bishop but I know there are plenty of fans that would love to see the arrival of Lucas Bishop on the big screen. Idris Elba is an actor that is linked to every role for a black actor that is going around which is clearly a credit to how highly thought of as an actor he is. However, while I know he can play a complex character with a lot of attitude he wouldn’t be my choice for the role (he’s already appeared in two superhero movies as well). I’m not sure how popular my choice will be but I would suggest the 6’4 hard man Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. His toughness is unquestionable and his ability to act has been proven in his most recent projects.

Dwayne Johnson Bishop

 

Scarlet Witch

All in all, female characters weren’t greatly portrayed in the original trilogy or in X-Men: First Class. Plenty of attention was given to Jean Grey but characters like Shadowcat, Rogue, Emma Frost and Storm didn’t quite reach their full potential in my opinion. Scarlet Witch is one of the greatest and most powerful female mutants there have ever been, with the power to even change a whole universe (which would have come in handy to reboot the series properly). As Magneto’s daughter Scarlet Witch has featured a lot in the comic books over the years. A few big name actresses have been mentioned (Eva Green, Marion Cotillard and Rachel McAdams among them) however I would choose someone younger in the form of British actress Katie McGrath.

Katie McGrath Scarlet Witch

 

Cannonball

Cannonball, aka Sam Guthrie, is one of my favourite characters from the X-Men comics although how it would come across on screen I’m not so sure. Cannonball’s ability is described as the ability to “bodily generate thermo-chemical energy and release it from his skin. This energy is used as thrust to cause his body to be propelled through the air like a rocket”… or to put it simply, he’s a bit like the Human Torch. Someone young would have to play Cannonball for me and I can’t look past Alex Pettyfer (Stormbreaker) for the part!

Alex Pettyfer Cannonball

 

Psylocke

Okay, so technically Psylocke did appear in X-Men: The Last Stand but if you’re going to count that as a true interpretation of the character then you need to get your head checked. Psylocke is a born leader, a fantastic warrior and one of the more prominent characters in a number of X-Men comic book lines and in some of the biggest events to shape the Marvel universe. There is a lot of debate among fans whether Pyclocke in the film should be British or Asian (long story, Wiki it) but the actress I have chosen, and have seen put forward by other fans, is neither of these. Olivia Wilde.

Olivia Wilde Psylocke

 

Who would you want to see join the ranks of the X-Men on the big screen? And who would you pick to play them?

 

 

This week’s news comes from three of the biggest franchises in the geek world right now. Let’s start with Star Trek Into Darkness. Ever since LOST JJ Abrams has been known for keeping his projects very low key in terms of information that fans know and this has been true of the upcoming sequel to his Star Trek reboot. We’ve seen photos from set and we know Benedict Cumberbatch is playing the villain. This week an official synopsis has finally been released for the sequel:

When the crew of the Enterprise is called back home, they find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization has detonated the fleet and everything it stands for, leaving our world in a state of crisis.

With a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction.

As our heroes are propelled into an epic chess game of life and death, love will be challenged, friendships will be torn apart, and sacrifices must be made for the only family Kirk has left: his crew.

This obviously still doesn’t give away any identity to Cumberbatch’s villain but it seems, from the synopsis, that Cumberbatch could be playing an old rival of Kirk’s from within the organisation of Starfleet that has become this ‘one man weapon of mass destruction’. Either way, it still sounds fantastic.

 

Next up. There has been a lot of talk about characters returning to the X-Men franchise for Days of Future Past. With the return of Bryan Singer as director of the franchise it seemed every more likely. Already James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult and Michael Fassbender are set to reprise their roles but now we also know that Patrick Stewart AND Ian McKellen are both returning! Bryan Singer has also said that there are “more announcements to be made” which could hint at several other returning characters from the original trilogy. It has long been a source of speculation but these announcements have absolutely made it clear that this will tie together all of the strands of the film series so far (hopefully). And it will be great to see two Xaviers and Magnetos on screen (especially since Stewart and McKellen do it so well).

They’re two of the most lovable old fellows in the acting world.

 

And finally.. this is just a rumour for now but as we all know there is a Justice League film in the works at Warner Bros. and this week Zack Snyder hinted that his Superman reboot Man of Steel could be tied in to it all. However, that’s not the news I’m bothered about. The rumour doing the rounds this week comes from an insider that has said that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is in line to take up the Batman cowl for the superhero team up that won’t be as good as The Avengers. Obviously, if he did this would be a natural progression as JGL’s character (Christopher Nolan’s Robin) in The Dark Knight Rises, it is hinted, takes on the mantle of Batman after Bruce Wayne hangs up his job. However, it is still unknown whether Justice League will respect what happened in The Dark Knight trilogy (probably not) so JGL could still play Bruce Wayne if this was to be done, but like I said… for now this is just a rumour.

UK Release Date: 22nd March 2013.

Stars: Bryan Singer (director), Nicholas Hoult, Stanley Tucci, Ewan McGregor, Bill Nighy, Ian McShane, Warwick Davis, Eleanor Tomlinson

Plot: The long-standing peace between men and giants is threatened, as a young farmer leads an expedition into the giants’ kingdom in hopes of rescuing a kidnapped princess.

Jack and the Beanstalk is the latest fairy tale to be adapted into some modern war/adventure film, following in the footsteps of Snow White and the Huntsman and the upcoming Hansel and Gretal: Witch Hunters. Here we have the simple naive farm boy of the fairy tale transformed into some brave, giant killing soldier.

Being directed by Bryan Singer, who took the X-Men films into darkness before Batman made it cool, I am surprised by how much it looks as though Jack the Giant Slayer is being aimed at children. A lot of what we see in this trailer, the attempts at humour and even the whole aesthetic look, makes it seem as though the family audience is being targeted although how many adults are going to be prepared to sit through this film I’m not sure.

I’m not saying this looks bad though because I actually think it could be a lot of fun. I’m pleased to see Nicholas Hoult getting main parts in films these days and its good to see Ewan McGregor offering some comedy up. Jack the Giant Slayer does look incredibly CGI heavy but hopefully that won’t distract viewers too much and, from the trailer, it looks as though it won’t. This one won’t be a film for everyone but it could be a fun ride.

2013 will see the release of the sixth film in the highly commercially successful and highly critically criticised Fast & Furious franchise. Last week Vin Diesel uploaded some pictures to his Facebook account of him on set and these photos were met with largely negative response to people on the internet with people saying things like “oh look, Vin Diesel in a car, they’re really pushing the boat out for this one” or just simply “shit” etc etc etc. But really, what did people expect from the Fast & Furious franchise? And with every film pulling in great box offices so far and the latest instalment Fast Five being the highest praised and highest box office is there any need for all the negativity and is there any need for the series to be clamped?

It all began back in 2001 when producers decided to make a film about street racing clubs that use Japanese cars to race in New York City. And the first instalment, The Fast and the Furious, set the tone for what every other film that follows was set to be about; illegal street racing. And while these are just typical popcorn, mindless action films (up until Fast Five) is there really anything wrong with that? Actors, especially back in the 80s, have made names for themselves in making mindless action movies and what we have here is just an hour and a half – two hours of real escapist fun. The films aren’t made for the critics, they’re made for the fans and as long as the fans are out there the films will get made.

The fourth instalment reunited the original cast… if only for a brief time.

Whilst the series continues with 2 Fast 2 Furious and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, when the rightful sequel arrived in 2009 with the original cast members all back together the franchise seemed to be reborn. Fast & Furious reunited Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez as well as adding new characters that would seem to become main players in the franchise from her on out: Gal Gadot and Sung Kang (the latter also appearing in Tokyo Drift). With Fast Five some more talent was added and Dwayne Johnson received high critical praise for his performance (and is it any wonder? He was brilliant!) and the series continues to add fresh acting talent with The Fast and the Furious 6 adding Luke Evans, Gina Carano and Joe Taslim. It was rumoured that Rihanna (excuse me while I throw up) was reported to be in the next instalment but thanks to scheduling conflicts (Hallelujah!) we are not being subjected to that torture and she is rumoured to be replaced by British pop sensation Rita Ora… interesting.

Various shots of The Fast and the Furious 6 in production

Anyway, it was Fast Five that was the real game changer. It seems that now Fast & Furious has finally reached it’s full potential. With Fast Five, the writers, cast, crew, directors, producers, whoever! had got a grasp on what was going on in the series and Fast Five showed that it was more than just mindless action. They allowed for real character development; it was great to see how much Dom Turetto had changed since his first outing in 2001 as well as Paul Walker’s former cop turned criminal’s relationship with Jordana Brewster’s character. The really disheartening thing is that, because people think the first few films are rubbish, the majority of people will not watch Fast Five and they are missing out on a real treat and one of the greatest action films of all time!

Yes, the acting isn’t always brilliant and the stories aren’t always gripping but Fast & Furious has never set out to be a contender for big awards in film making. For this series it’s all about having fun; fast cars, hot women, tough men, big action scenes and explosions. And when you watch Fast & Furious you can’t help but have fun. So people should stop moaning about the quality of previous films, sit down and watch Fast & Furious (2009) followed by Fast Five and prepare to be swamped in fun, explosions and at times surprisingly touching friendships. Embrace it.

 

 

How can you not want to at least watch Fast Five after that?

I love Anna Kendrick, that’s pretty much the long and short of this blog. There aren’t really that many actresses that I would class as some of my favourite people to watch in films but among them is definitely Anna Kendrick. The last couple of years have seen Kendrick rise to fame and become popular with fans and critics alike.

Like most really good actors and actresses Kendrick’s roots lie in the world of theatre, in particular Broadway. It was clear that Kendrick had talent right from the off as her performance in the musical High Society, at just twelve years old, as she won the World Theatre Award and got nominated for a Tony Award. After a few more shows Kendrick got her first film role in the independent musical comedy Camp and, although the film on a whole received mix reviews, Kendrick’s performance was largely praised and she was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award in the category of Best Debut Performance.

In 2007 Anna Kendrick got rave reviews once again for her role in Rocket Science but it was in 2008 that she finally got her big break and this came in the Twilight series (although lets not hold that against her, she has done lots of other good films too!). I can’t be bothered talking about Twilight but I thought I better mention it so lets just move on to her brilliant films.

In 2009, Anna Kendrick was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in one of the best films that I think I have ever seen and one of my favourites… Up in the Air. Up in the Air is a lovely, touching story with George Clooney in the lead role and Anna Kendrick puts in the best performance of the film in my opinion. It’s a lovely performance to watch and Kendrick adds some genuine humour in the film and many of the highlights of Up in the Air are down to her. It was Up in the Air where I really became a fan of her.

In 2010 Kendrick appeared in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and didn’t really have a lot to do here where she played the sister to the title character. It was while working on this film that Kendrick met her now partner, director Edgar Wright. Then in 2011, she appeared in one of the best films of the year and an all round near perfect film, 50/50. Kendrick plays the therapist to Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s cancer patient and their friendship/relationship and mutual respect towards one another is really heart warming to watch and I think that 50/50 is my favourite performance of Kendrick’s so far.

It’s been a dramatic rise to fame over the last couple of years for Kendrick and that shows no signs of lagging just yet as this year has been very busy for the actress. This year Kendrick voiced a character in stop-motion picture ParaNorman, took the lead role in Pitch Perfect and also sang on the soundtrack and is currently appearing in a film being dubbed “the greatest cop film of all time” End of Watch. She is also in The Company You Keep alongside Robert Redford and Shia LaBeouf which I am looking forward to seeing but has only been previewed at the Venice Festival so far.

At just 27 years old Anna Kendrick is fast becoming one of the most fun actresses to watch and her career is surely going to reach some fantastic heights.

‘Now You See Me’ Trailer

UK Release Date: 21st June 2013

Stars: Louis Leterrier (director), Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Isla Fisher

Plot: FBI agents track a team of illusionists who pull off bank heists during their performances and reward their audiences with the money.

It’s a heist movie where the bank robbers are magicians and the detective is played by the Hulk, what more could you want? Now You See Me is obviously going to be compared to The Prestige upon its release and already is being compared on the internet which makes sense, The Prestige was also about magicians and is easily one of my favourite films of all time.

You can’t deny that Now You See Me has a very ‘prestigy’ feel to it; what with the teleporting device, the magicians, the woman trapped in a tank of water and the appearance of Michael Caine but there is enough here to justify that it is a very different type of film. It looks, to me, that Now You See Me is a lot lighter than The Prestige, as it would have to be to gain the box office it must be expecting with a summer release date and a cast full of stars.

I’m already looking forward to it. I enjoyed the trailer very much and Now You See Me looks like a fun film, that fun best summed up by Dave Franco’s half a second of trailer time in which he manages to fit in the trademark Franco smile. Eisenberg’s scene in which he escapes the handcuffs and gets them on to Ruffalo’s character is quick but incredible and it’s good to see they made the EVER so sensible choice of having Morgan Freeman do the voice over for the trailer. Bring on summer 2013!

Blah blah.. Disney… blah blah… Star Wars. Exactly. With Michael Arndt currently writing Episode VII it has now been announced who will write Episodes VIII and IX, clearly Disney is expecting big things from their newest franchise. Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg are the two people chosen to write the next sequels but it is unclear who will write which one as of yet. These are very good choices as Kasdan has previous with the Star Wars series (so why wasn’t he chosen to write Episode VII?) as he wrote The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. simon Kinberg also has experience with blockbusters, he has written Sherlock Holmes and is currently writing Days of Future Past, the sequel to X-Men: First Class. However, Kinberg has previously had writing credits on Mr & Mrs Smith, Jumper and X-Men: The Last Stand, not such a good choice after all?

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is picking up the pace now. We know that Jamie Foxx is in the running to play the villain and probably will do so but now we know that Harry Osborn will feature in the film and several actors are being auditioned. Those in the running include Dane DeHaan (Chronicle), Sam Claflin (Snow White and the Huntsman), Eddie Redmayne (My Week With Marilyn) and Boyd Holbrook (Milk). If it was up to me I would be snapping up Sam Claflin to play the past as soon as I could. Claflin is a British actor that I have seen a lot of (Pillars of the Earth, United, Snow White and the Huntsman) and has also landed himself roles in other big blockbusters such as Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. It is clear he is going to have a great career and I really would love to see him emulate James Franco in this role.

Claflin gets the thumbs up from me to play Harry Osborn.

Scoot McNairy is getting around a lot in Hollywood at the minute. As soon as I first saw him in Monsters I was a fan, he is a very good actor and deserves all the success that comes his way. This year he has starred in Killing Them Softly with Brad Pitt and Argo with Ben Affleck. This week, McNairy has been cast in two more films. These are The Rover, an “existential western” set in the “near future” starring Robert Pattinson and Guy Pearce; the other is Frank alongside Michael Fassbender. Scoot McNairy is fast becoming one of my favourite actors! (expect a blog all about him in the next week or so).

Finally, Pinocchio. The classic tale of a carpenter who makes a puppet that turns into a real boy. The story has been done several times, most famously by Disney and probably most recently on television show Once Upon A Time. For months and months this project has been in the works with two names attached to team up to make it happen and they are, arguably, ideal for the job. the two in question are director Tim Burton and (no, not Johnny Depp or Helena Bonham Carter) the brilliant Robert Downey Jr, who would play Geppetto! The film has been on and off more than Ross and Rachel in Friends (can you believe its 10 years since that finished? I can’t!) but now a writer has been hired to produce a script. And that writer is Jane Goldman, the woman behind such hits as Stardust, Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class and The Woman in Black. Good times!

Warner Bros. have this week announced their intentions to push The Dark Knight Rises forward in hope of getting a few Oscar nominations. The Dark Knight won two Oscars and received another six nominations although none of these were in any of the ‘big five’ categories. Disney have decided that they are not going to push The Avengers for Oscar nominations and instead will concentrate on their animated features: Brave, Frankenweenie and Wreck-It Ralph. On the surface of it this seems a strange choice as The Avengers became one of the highest grossing movies of all time and is one of the most well loved films of this year! Have Disney made the right choice?

Acting

There are four categories at the Oscars for acting: Best Leading Actor, Best Leading Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. After you decide who in The Avengers is adjudged to be the Lead Role and who is Supporting then you have to think does anybody really deserve a nomination? Mark Ruffalo came out of The Avengers really well, as did Clark Gregg but none of these really did anything to warrant an Oscar. Before it’s release I was touting Robert Downey Jr as a potential Oscar candidate but I wasn’t blown away with his portrayal like I was in Iron Man. As for the female characters Scarlett Johansson put in a good performance but nothing Oscar worthy. Tom Hiddleston is considered by many to be the best actor among the cast but I think there have been better performances than his in other Oscar-worthy films.

Ruffalo and Hiddleston get along much better off screen!

Direction

Joss Whedon made himself a God among geeks with The Avengers but how good was his direction? He told a fantastic story and put together some incredible set pieces including the unforgettable continuous shot during the final battle. However, his technique came under fire from cinematographer and long time Christopher Nolan collaborator Wally Pfister as his camera angles apparently didn’t make much sense in terms of telling a story. Unfortunately, there won’t be any recognition for Whedon’s direction here.

Best Picture

As I mentioned earlier The Avengers became the third highest grossing film of all time and nobody could avoid the huge superhero mash-up this year. I gave it a 10 out of 10 in my review because it is everything that I could have hoped for, it was easily among the best films of the year! However, it seems to be that more often than not, Oscar winners for Best Picture are usually more serious film and you can see that The Avengers was made to be fun and enjoyable. You could say that, much to its credit, The Avengers was made for comic book fans rather than the critics and that could damage it’s hope of a nomination here, especially seeing as how The Dark Knight didn’t even get recognition in this category.

Best Adapted Screenplay

For me, this is the most likely category that The Avengers will feature in. Joss Whedon is a fantastic writer for television and now he has shown that he can tell wonderful stories on the big screen too. Whedon’s writing was what made The Avengers what it is and his dialogue, character development and interaction was fantastic. I think it is a much more well written film than a lot of what we have seen this year (including The Dark Knight Rises) and I do hope that it does receive a nomination here.

So they’re the biggest categories discussed and my opinions on The Avengers‘ chances. Of the rest I don’t think a nomination is out of the question in categories such as Best Film Editing, Best Costume Design or Best Visual Effects but at the end of the day, who remembers the winners of those awards? I think Disney made the right call not to make a serious push for The Avengers‘ Oscars chances.

Babel (2006) Review

Babel is the third offering from director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu in his ‘Death’ trilogy, following Amores Perros and 21 Grams. Being a big fan of 21 Grams I was looking forward to watching Babel and had high expectations due to the amount of critical acclaim it received back upon its release.

Babel tells the stories of four different families in three different continents who are all connected by one tragic incident. But as much as Babel is about these families and their stories the stories take a back seat in order for Inarritu and scriptwriter Guillermo Arriaga to develop and explore pivotal themes in human life such as death, communication and family. It is a good job really because I felt that none of the stories were really strong enough to stand up by themselves and all supported one another significantly. However, the story that takes place in Japan is a little less connected to the others and, despite arguably being the most interesting of the four stories, has little bearing on the film as a whole.

As well as the deep themes being explored it is also the terrific acting that makes Babel worth the watch. Brad Pitt is not a name associated with the phrase ‘terrific acting’; yes he is a bankable name and yes he is world famous but he’s never been the best actor around but Babel sees Pitt put in a really emotional performance and is definitely one of his best to date. The real stand out performance for me was, again, in the Japanese story. Rinku Kikuchi as Chieko Wataya, a deaf-mute Japanese schoolgirl, is incredible. This is genuinely one of the best performances I think that I have ever seen, it is so compelling and just layered with intrigue that it is not a performance soon forgotten. It’s a whole international effort with stellar performances coming from actors and actresses of all nationalities including Adriana Barazza, Elle Fanning, Mohamed Akhzam and Gael Garcia Bernal. But any Cate Blanchett fans thinking of watching Babel I probably wouldn’t bother. She is on the front of the DVD case and her name is one of the most well known of the cast but she is barely in it and after her first scene she barely even speaks or moves.

As you might well expect the direction from Inarritu is flawless. Babel is not one of the strongest films I have ever seen but it is up there with the most beautiful. Inarritu clearly has a talent for his craft and this is nothing less than perfection in his directing of the film. Every single shot is well thought out and every single detail is covered. It is his performance as director that makes Babel what it is.

For all of it’s good points, as I mentioned earlier none of the stories are really that strong. It is hard to gain an emotional connection to any of the characters when you are being flown across the globe and back again to get all of these different stories flying at you. And for all the good acting and brilliant directing that is something that I could not look past. The writing needed to make the characters easier to connect with for the audience.

My Rating: 6/10.

UK Release Date: 29th March 2013

Stars: Andrew Niccol (director), Saoirse Ronan, Diane Kruger, William Hurt, Jake Abel

Plot: A parasitic alien soul is injected into the body of Melanie Stryder. Instead of carrying out her race’s mission of taking over the Earth, “Wanda” (as she comes to be called) forms a bond with her host and sets out to aid other free humans.

With Twilight finally coming to an end, four years too late by my reckoning, producers have decided upon the timely release of The Host, based on the novel written by the same author as the camp-ire series: Stephanie Meyer.

When the first teaser trailer was released I will admit I was a little bit excited to see The Host, it looked like something different, an alien invasion with a little bit of a twist. Now that the full length trailer has been released we can see what The Host really is: another desperate love story aimed at naive teenage girls who are bound to get caught up in the horror that is on the screen before them.

It does seem like The Host will be more of a serious attempt at making a good film though with pretty big names among the cast and with it being fronted by Saoirse Ronan, a wonderful young acting talent who has a huge career ahead of her. Andrew Niccol (director and screenwriter of The Host) is the writer of The Terminal and The Truman Show while he has directed Lord of War and last year’s In Time so there is some potential in the project behind the smokescreen of teenage romance.