Archive for February, 2013


Obviously the big news of the week was the Oscars but I’m not going to bore you with the names of the winners which I am sure you have seen plastered around numerous blogs in the past weeks. Let’s start with the worst news EVER just to get it out of the way: Michael Bay has announced that Megan Fox has been cast as April O’Neil in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot that Bay insists on ruining. Has there ever been such bad casting? NO.

 

So now that that’s out of the way. Anchorman: The Legend Continues is being released late this year and as if having a cast of Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, Luke Wilson and Kristen Wiig isn’t enough. Now James Marsden has been added to that list. Marsden will be playing Ferrell’s main rival in the film, a news anchor over at San Diego TV. I have previously written a blog about the lack of a career that Marsden has had other than starring in the X-Men films but if all goes well here he may become sought after property in actual good comedy films.

 

It’s common consensus that Adam Sandler is not good anymore. If he ever even picked up any of his Razzie awards that he won then he wouldn’t have anywhere to put them all in his house, there is just too many. His recent career has been nothing short of apocalyptic. Sandler has now joined a new romantic comedy following a couple who have had a disastrous blind date and somehow find themselves stuck together in a resort for families, each with their kids from a previous marriage in tow. There are several actresses in the running but the favourite at the minute seems to be Sandler’s co-star in The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates Drew Barrymore which could, hopefully, signal a return to form for Sandler.

 

Annie is one of the most famous musicals in the world. Despite being met with mixed responses from critics when the original film was released back in 1982 it has achieved international fame and a few of its songs have become world famous. Now there is a remake in the works with plans for the film to be released at Christmas 2014. Will Smith and Jay-Z are on board as producers and Will Smith made one of the best decisions of his career by deciding to replace his daughter Willow Smith who was originally cast in the lead role. The girl now in the lead role is Quvenzhané Wallis, the youngest ever actress to be nominated for Best Actress at the Oscars for her performance in Beasts of the Southern Wild.

 

In 2011 Fox released Rio, an animated film about two blue macaws voiced by Anne Hathaway and Jesse Eisenberg. The original film also featured the voicing talents of will.i.am, Jamie Foxx, Leslie Mann and Rodrigo Santoro who are all returning for the sequel, among others, but the cast has grown even more. Andy Garcia, Bruno Mars and the amazing Pierce Gagnon (the kid from Looper) are just a few of the names signed on for Rio 2.

Advertisements

District 9 (2009) Review

Back in 2008 a viral marketing campaign began entitled “Human’s Only” that first brought people’s attention to District 9. Then, upon its release, it received acclaim from all angles and really helped to launch the careers of its South African director Neill Blomkamp and leading man Sharlto Copley.

District 9 is the story of Sharlto Copley’s Wikus van de Merwe. Almost thirty years prior to the events of this film a large spaceship stopped above Johannesburg in South Africa and its alien occupiers came down to Earth and now inhabit the slums of South Africa. Wikus van de Merwe is a government agent chosen to lead the camp relocation by serving the aliens with eviction notices. However, after uncovering a deep secret about the alien’s technology he becomes a kindred spirit of the alien race.

The film begins in a very interesting documentary style and remains this way throughout the first half an hour. This allows the audience to be given a fantastic insight into the alien race and their history, as well as the opinions held of humans about this new species on their planet. There is a strong sense of foreboding throughout as we hear the talking heads talking about their colleague Wikus and we know that something bad happens to him, but we are never quite told what. Meanwhile, we are introduced to Wikus, this happy, charming, loved up government worker who is, not all the time competent, but always means well.

Then the story moves on and we suddenly come out of the documentary style and we are welcomed to a more conventional style of story telling. We know get introduced to the aliens and learn what they are doing here and what they intend to do with their spaceship, and how they intend to go back home, if they want to. The aliens are brought to life magnificently by Jason Cope who plays a huge part in the making of this film by providing the voices for all as well as playing the lead alien, Christopher Johnson.

As well as being an enthralling piece of drama District 9 also brings up several strong themes surrounding humanity. Right from the title through to its treatment of aliens District 9 is a sure fire criticism of Distric Six. District Six, an inner-city residential area in Cape Town, was declared a “whites only” area by the government in 1966, with 60,000 people forcibly removed and relocated to Cape Flats. Racism and xenophobia are explored with the aliens being the subject of the hatred. The use of the word ‘prawn’ is a very evident replacement for racist words used in the past. It’s not the first time the science fiction genre has done this but District 9 is certainly one of the best to have used this tact in their film making.

It is amazing that on such a low budget Blomkamp has managed to bring to life one of the greatest science fiction/fantasy films of this century so far. A fine piece of art!

My Rating: 9/10.

Earlier in the week I wrote articles about my fantasy casting choices for the likes of Jaina Solo and Jacen Solo in the new Star Wars trilogy if they are to feature. Of course, the Star Wars saga is primarily about the Skywalker family and this new trilogy, if based on the children of our original heroes, will not be without a Skywalker. This is the turn of Ben.

To anybody with just a passing interest in the Star Wars films it will be pretty obvious who his father is and who he is named after but I am going to tell you anyway: Ben Kenobi and Luke Skywalker. Ben’s mother is another Jedi master named Mara Jade and most of his pivotal moments in the expanded universe come before his sixteenth birthday. This will most likely be changed for the new trilogy however, because, after the catastrophe of the prequel trilogy, they’re not going to want to hedge their bets on a young teenager, surely? But I could be wrong. Anyway, who could play Ben Skywalker?

 

Dave Franco

This would be a bit of a strange choice as he is making a name for himself in Hollywood now as more of a comedic type actor. However, complete with trademark Franco smile, I think Dave Franco could fit into the Star Wars universe pretty well. I think they will be opting for an up and coming actor rather than one who has already made his name for the role of Ben Skywalker and Dave Franco could be a good fit.

 

Garrett Hedlund

I have seen Hedlund mentioned by quite a few fans as a possibly Ben Skywalker. He seems to have a name that you would be likely to remember and has appeared in some big (if a little disappointing) films: Troy, Eragon, TRON: Legacy. With the latter looking as though it could be turning into a quite profitable franchie then it is possible Hedlund will be staying on to lead TRON in the future years so he seems unlikely.

 

Liam Hemsworth

If it was down to me Liam Hemsworth would be my pick. He is appearing in The Hunger Games trilogy at the minute but by the time Star Wars Episode VII begins to get made the second film will be done with and he doesn’t exactly have the biggest part in the world so he may consider turning his back on the role to lead Star Wars into a new era. Ben Skywalker seems a pretty difficult role to cast at the minute and if Abrams decides against casting an unknown actor (as George Lucas did with the original Skywalker) then Hemsworth could well be in with a shout.

Troubled sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes finally has it’s leading man. It’s taking some time getting done but Jason Clarke has been cast in the lead role; lets face it, we all knew James Franco really didn’t want to come back so this isn’t really a surprise. What may come as a shock, however, is the news that ‘Dawn‘ is due to take place FIFTEEN years after Rise of the Planet of the Apes so it will be interesting to see how far the apes have come since ‘Rise‘ and how the planet is shaping up. Clarke has previously appeared in Public Enemies, Lawless and most recently Zero Dark Thirty so he has a surprisingly good track record.

 

They haven’t won any Oscars yet but it looks as though David O. Russell and Jennifer Lawrence clearly enjoyed working together on Silver Linings Playbook because they have agreed to do another two projects together. First it was announced the Lawrence had joined the cast in a lead role in a currently untitled film (previously known as American Bullshit) which also stars former O. Russell collaborators Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook) and Christian Bale (The Fighter). The second is The Ends of the Earth; this time it was Lawrence who was already signed on and clearly David O. Russell thoroughly enjoys her company as he has agreed to direct this film too.

 

Marvel have a lot of film projects dotted about studios as well as their own ‘two films per year’ scheme they seem to be operating so you can pretty much guarantee that there will be something in the news regarding them every week, even more so with Bryan Singer back directing X-Men as he LOVES to talk about the project. Firstly, Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones) has been cast as Drax the Destroyer in Marvel’s own cosmic team-up film Guardians of the Galaxy, which is moving well on the casting front. As well as this, Momoa’s co-star on Game of Thrones, Peter Dinklage, has been added to the ever expanding cast of X-Men: Days of Future Past. After early speculation of Dinklage playing Alpha Flight team member Puck was dismissed it now seems as though he will be playing a villain, probably Bolivar Trask, creator of the Sentinels.

 

And now, to end on a very good note! The previous James Bond film, Skyfall, was a smash hit around the globe winning both critically and commercially. Now it seems that it is almost dead certain that director Sam Mendes WILL return to direct the 24th Bond film in the series. Bond 24 is already being written by the same writer as Skyfall so to have Mendes back on board would increase expectations even more but I am certain that he can deliver.

Flight marks Robert Zemeckis’ (of Back to the Future fame) return to live action directing after only working on animation/CGI projects since Cast Away in 2000. As he is most famously known for light hearted projects such as Back to the Future, Polar Express and A Christmas Carol Zemeckis may seem like an odd choice for such a deep story with several difficult and challenging themes to tackle, so would he be able to rise to the challenge?

Denzel Washington is Captain William ‘Whip’ Whitaker, a well known and well respected airline pilot. When his latest flight goes awry Whitaker is forced to make a drastic choice and crash the plane into an empty field, managing to save many lives; from this tragedy Whitaker becomes known as a hero. However, an investigation into the malfunctions of the flight reveal that all may not be as it seems.

There’s nothing I can say about Denzel Washington’s performance that you wouldn’t expect anyway. He is absolutely flawless as the tragic airline captain and is so enthralling in his performance that you can’t take your eyes off him. Right from the beginning Washington draws you into his character and slowly peels away layers and layers of Whip, allowing for a close examination of his character and all of his vices. While not always likeable there isn’t a moment where you want him to leave the screen because the character is full of complexities and conflict and incredibly well written.

And speaking of the writing, Flight is easily the best film I have seen this year in terms of its writing and storytelling and is one of the best written films I have seen in my life. This isn’t a film that is driven by action and there isn’t a lot of action scenes that crop up after the plane crash but that doesn’t matter. Wasington’s character is superbly well written as I mentioned above but so is Nicole (played by Kelly Reilly) who ends up being a wonderful treat really despite the fact I did not have a clue where her story was going or who she was when she first turned up. But then when this was revealed it made it even better. And there is one subtle scene where the plane is coming down over the house of Nicole as she is being pulled away by paramedics which I thought was understated but beautiful.

The wonderful acting is not limited to Washington alone. In a cast that features the likes of Kelly Reilly, Don Cheadle, John Goodman, Brian Geraghty and Bruce Greenwood it’s impossible to expect anything less. Every member of the cast does more than hold their own with John Goodman and one line from Greenwood in particular providing some much needed laughs into a drama heavy production. Goodman’s brief appearances are a joy to behold and while I would have liked to have seen more of him it is probably for the best that he came in small doses.

The filming of the crash is superb. The in-depth analysis of the characters is fantastic and how it deals with the aftermath of such a tragic event is really well done. Flight is absolutely superb, a fantastic piece of drama. Unfortunately for Washington he is in a very tough category in terms of Best Actor at the Oscars and the script probably won’t win Best Screenplay but it has my vote!

My Rating: 8/10.

Yesterday, I took a look at the character of Jaina Solo and put forward a few suggestions of who should play her if she was to be included as the main character of the upcoming new Star Wars trilogy. Today, I will be looking at her twin brother, Jacen Solo.

Who knows why the Star Wars families go like this (probably because it makes for a good theme of family and good showdowns which classic lines such as “I am your Father”) but for every good member of the family there’s an evil one: for every Luke, there’s an Anakin. And the Solo twins are no different with Jacen eventually growing up to become Darth Caedeus, a prime antagonist in the Star Wars expanded universe. So who could play Jacen Solo?

 

Dane DeHaan

The actor that immediately sprung to my mind was Dane DeHaan. Shooting to fame last year in surprise hit Chronicle, DeHaan became an instant success and has subsequently been cast as Harry Osborn in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. I think that DeHaan would be a perfect fit and could easily perform the kind of conflicted personality and the turn to evil that encompasses Jacen Solo.

 

Tom Felton

Obviously world renowned for his role as that pesky Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter series. Since then Felton has failed to really do much with his career, releasing an awful music single and unleashing almost just as awful American accent for his villainous role in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. His seemingly below-par acting skills may see him quickly cut out of the running for this part and Felton himself may not want to play another bad guy. Although with Jacen beginning the trilogy as a hero that could convince him.

 

Anton Yelchin

I have made it quite clear in an earlier blog that I am disappointed about Abrams being the director of Star Wars as well as Star Trek so it may be more than a little bit hypocritical for me to suggest Anton Yelchin (Chekov) for a main part in the Star Wars franchise. However, Yelchin doesn’t really feature as a big part in the original Star Trek reboot and I doubt he will have a bigger part in Into Darkness. Really, he deserves greater attention and with a connection with Abrams already established he may just be in mind.

 

Stick around, maybe there’ll be some casting suggestions of Anakin Solo and Ben Skywalker heading your way soon.

This week has seen the reports that Harrison Ford is set to reprise one of the most iconic roles in cinema history as Han Solo for Star Wars Episode VII. When a new trilogy was announced fans were quick to question whether Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher would be returning and this news seems to be positive, especially because Ford’s role is being called ‘significant’. This would also support the theory that the new trilogy would focus on the children of Han Solo and Princess Leia (Jaina, Jacen and Anakin Solo) who were introduced as part of the expanded universe.

There were also reports (because, of course, this is all speculation at the minute) that the main character in the new trilogy would be a female, which seems to point to Jaina Solo. Jaina and her twin brother Jacen are primary protagonists in a lot of the expanded universe literature so it would make sense that they would be the focus of the new trilogy, especially as this would easily allow Han Solo, Princess Leia and Uncle’s Luke Skywalker and Chewbacca (maybe?) to return. So if this was to come to fruition, who would play Jaina Solo?

 

Jennifer Lawrence

We don’t know if Jaina Solo will be the main character but if she is she’s going to be pretty young, late teenage years at oldest, surely? And Lawrence is currently playing the most famous teenager in film, Katniss Everdeen. She is also playing a younger version of Mystique in the X-Men trilogy so she is clearly adjudged to look the part. Although her working in these two big franchises already mean that she may not have the time to appear in the new Star Wars trilogy as well. However, she is one of the hottest talents in Hollywood at the minute so surely will be considered?

 

Odette Annable

Annable is another relative unknown but is a more likely choice than Tonkin. She has film experience and one of those films she has been in was (another JJ Abrams project) Cloverfield. Since then, most of her high profile work has come on television appearing in Life On Mars, Brothers & Sisters and the final series of House. At twenty seven years of age producers may feel that it is a bit late for her to try and force her way into being a Hollywood starlet but could easily fit the role of Jaina Solo in my opinion. The only problem here is that she just looks too ‘nice’ and clean cut for the part possibly.

 

 

Phoebe Tonkin

Tonkin is a little known Australian actress best known for her work on television shows Home and Away, The Secret Circle and The Vampire Diaries. She is soon set to appear in The Originals, a Vampire Diaries spin-off but I highly doubt that her television work would stop her from being considered for a role in Star Wars. I think that Tonkin has a shine to her and would not look out of place as the daughter of Han and Leia. When the original Star Wars films were made they took a bold step by casting unknowns in the lead roles. If they’re willing to be as daring again then maybe Tonkin should be looked at. I think Tonkin would be my pick of these three candidates.

 

So they are my three picks for the role of Jaina Solo. Tomorrow I’ll be looking at who could play her twin (younger by five minutes) brother; Jacen Solo.

For some unknown reason Wreck-It Ralph was released in the United States three months earlier than here in the United Kingdom, meaning I had to sit here while all the praise rolled in and the Academy Award nomination got announced and I was yet to see it. Finally I have, but did it live up to my expectations?

For anyone who doesn’t know (but lets face it why wouldn’t you?) Wreck-It Ralph is a story of an arcade video game villain named, you guessed it, Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly). Ralph grows tired of being a villain due to his lack of recognition and being forced to live in the dump while his rival in the game, the good guy, Fix-It Felix Jr (Jack McBrayer). received medals, cakes and parties. Eventually, Ralph decides to go ‘turbo’ and abandons his game, causing disruption and hysteria throughout the arcade as he puts several other games in jeopardy of being shut down.

Wreck-It Ralph is ultimately a story about change; it promotes the idea that it doesn’t matter what people think of you, you always have the ability to go against your ‘programming’ and be what you want to be. Whether it’s Ralph being a hero, Sergeant Calhoun (Jane Lynch) giving into her feelings and going against ‘the most depressing back story ever’ or Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) turning her ‘glitch’ into something positive. Disney always try and promote these messages to kids throughout their films but that doesn’t mean that Wreck-It Ralph is just for children; there is just as much to behold for adults.

In almost every scene for the first half an hour there are references to hundreds of video game characters of past and present. Whether that be Pac-Man, Bowser, Ken and Ryu, Frogger or Q*Bert, there is something for everyone and part of the fun while watching Wreck-It Ralph is trying to spot all the references to video game history, right down to the 8-bit movement of the residents of Ralph’s game. It has an incredibly authentic video game feel to the world which only enhances the viewing.

The four heroes of the story: Wreck-It Ralph, Fix-It Felix Jr, Sergeant Calhoun and Venellope are some of the best characters Disney have ever come up with in my opinion. I was incredibly impressed with Calhoun and thought she was a great addition to the story but for me, it was Venellope von Scheetz who stole the show. Her animation, the way the character is written combined with Silverman’s voicing talents make her just about the most adorable thing to ever be seen on screen. There are some really heartwarming and also heartbreaking moments between Venellope and Ralph but it becomes one of the best on screen partnerships out there.

And as for the twist… wow! The more you get through the film you realise what the danger is for Ralph and Venellope and you come to accept who the real bad guy is and you’re quite content there. And then Rich Moore (the brilliant director of the film) hits you with a twist that you wouldn’t have seen coming in your wildest dreams but, in actual fact, makes perfect sense. This reveal was one of the most enjoyable parts of the film for me.

Wreck-It Ralph is a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend your time for adults and children alike. For many people Toy Story is seen as the epitome of animation, the best animated film ever made. Now it has true competition.

My Rating: 10/10.

There’s a mixture of good, bad and just plain weird news this week. First of all there was the good news that the Godzilla reboot was looking to take itself seriously and add some serious acting talent to the cast. Aaron Taylor-Johnson was, until recently, the only actor attached to the project (set for a 2014 release) but this week both Elizabeth Olsen (Silent House) and Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) have joined up.

 

A mixture of news in the sequel business this week. The good news first is that Albert Brooks, the voice of Marlin in Finding Nemo, WILL be back for the sequel which already has seen Ellen Degeneres return for her part as Dory. This is good news as you couldn’t really have the film without him; we followed him on his journey all the way through the original film and it would be pretty harsh on Nemo to kill off his dad considering his mum has already bitten the sea’s equivalent to dust. Marlin was the most important, and in my opinion the best, character in Finding Nemo so I’m pleased to see Brooks back. Oh… the bad news is that Night at the Museum 3 is being made which we really don’t need to see after the shambles of the second one.

 

After the success of Ted last year Seth MacFarlane’s next project is going to put him in the lead role once more, this time in live action mode rather than as a CGI teddy bear. It will be a comedy western entitled A Million Ways to Die. We already knew this but this week Amanda Seyfried has been added to the cast. Seyfried (of Mean Girls and Les Miserables fame) will play the wife that leaves MacFarlance’s character to plunge the whole story into motion. Charlize Theron is also set to star.

 

And finally, some really WEIRD and completely unexpected news. Sony has a little project in the pipeline entitled Dodge & Twist which is a sequel update reworking …it’s just a completely new story about Oliver Twist. This story sees Oliver Twist twenty years older than when he was a pickpocketing child and he encounters old rival Artful Dodger who is now on the right side of the law. Twist gets wrapped up in a plan to steal the Crown Jewels and has Artful Dodger in hot pursuit. Interesting…?

UK Release Date: 12th July 2013.

Stars: Dan Scanlon (director), Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Julia Sweeney, Helen Mirren.

Plot: A look at the relationship between Mike and Sulley during their days at the University of Fear — when they weren’t necessarily the best of friends.

In recent years I have questioned whether Pixar have been going off the boil a little bit with recent films Cars 2 and Brave not quite living up to past Pixar films. However, Monsters Inc is one of my favourite Pixar films so I have been looking forward to seeing how Pixar’s first prequel would turn out. Finally we have the trailer and…

… I can’t help but feel disappointed. You don’t get any real storyline or impression of plot, you don’t really get a sense of a funny rivalry between our two heroes like we did in the very first teaser which was hilarious, and most of all you don’t get to see many returning characters despite the cast returning. Instead you have so many new characters thrown in to these two minutes its impossible to make anything of it!

To paraphrase Nick Fury, I still believe in Pixar. And I really hope that there is more to Monsters University than the obvious jokes the trailer throws at us. If this doesn’t do well then the future for Finding Nemo 2 and the rumoured Toy Story 4 does not look good.