Category: News


RIP Paul Walker: 1973 – 2013

VERY sad news this morning that Paul Walker, star of the Fast & Furious franchise has been killed in a tragic car accident.

Walker’s acting was never going to win any awards but he was an integral part of the Fast & Furious franchise from the very beginning and it only worked so well because of his and Vin Diesel’s chemistry and partnership on screen. His performances added to the fun and the excitement of the films and he will surely be missed.

In reality, Brian O’Conner is probably one of the most evolved characters in the action series and his transformation from police detective to co-leader of one of the biggest criminal gangs in the world has been enjoyable to watch.

Everyone who has ever come into contact with Walker seems to be coming out this morning and saying what a nice guy he was and this is completely believable as you never heard about him doing anything wrong and he was always smiling, laughing and joking around in interviews.

It is such a shame that Walker is no longer with us and he will be truly missed by fans of the Fast & Furious franchise. Far too young and way too soon; he had so much more to give.

RIP.

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Yes, you read that right. After the enjoyable yet unremarkable Rocky Balboa it appears as though it is very likely that Sylvester Stallone is set to reprise the most famous role of his career and bring the underdog boxer Rocky back to the big screen for the seventh time. However, if it does happen, it won’t be in any kind of Rocky VII film, it will be in a spin-off form the franchise. Intrigued?

To date the Rocky franchise has grossed over $1.2billion worldwide

Die hard film fans will have heard of Fruitvale Station (no Rocky connection yet) which is released tomorrow (26th July) in the United States as it has been very well received at the Sundance Film Festival, winning the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award for American Dramatic Film, and Cannes Film Festival where it won the award for Best First Film. Fruitvale Station was written and directed by Ryan Coogler who is only 27 which is quite remarkable when you think about it.

Anyway, it’s Coogler who is planning to bring the next film to the big screen through his passion for the franchise. Coogler will be writing the script and directing the project which will be titled ‘Creed’ and will focus on the grandson of Rocky’s respected rival, Apollo Creed. The story will apparently revolve around Creed’s grandson and his dreams of fighting professionally despite his family’s concerns after Apollo died in the ring (Rocky IV). The young Creed will turn to Sylvester Stallone’s heavyweight champion Rocky to train him and help him become the best boxer he can be.

Left: Ryan Coogler; Right: Michael B. Jordan

The actor set to nab the lead role in the spin-off is Michael B. Jordan who stars in Fruitvale Station and, just in recent months, has been highly touted for some of the biggest films in production. Jordan is probably most famous for his excellent acting skills in The Wire and has also been seen on Friday Night Lights and starred in surprise hit, Chronicle. He has been linked with roles in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and the Fantastic Four reboot (it seems like only a matter of time before he plays a superhero and getting this role isn’t going to hurt his chances). He certainly has the acting chops and the likeability about him to pull this role off, but would a spin-off work and is it even a possibility?

At the minute, reports suggest that Sylvester Stallone will come back on board as producer as well as star, meaning that his baby (the Rocky franchise) will still be in his own hands even if he hangs up his gloves after giving Creed its legs. The Rocky franchise is certainly a popular one and in the modern world of remakes, reboots and sequels it seems as though Hollywood would be daft to shoot the idea down without thinking about it. If Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan want to make it then I say we let them; they are both getting praise right, left and centre and the franchise would be in safe hands. It would also be brilliant to see a new summer blockbuster (with potential to be a series of films in its own right) with a black character at the heart of its story, which is something significantly lacking from Hollywood films.

I highly doubt Sylvester Stallone would turn down the chance to play Rocky Balboa once more. Let round seven begin.

It’s not very often that someone comes along and changes the way that films are made. There are rare moments in the modern movie industry where such significant leaps are made to enhance movie viewing. Ray Harryhausen is one of the most famous pioneers of special effects technology ever to grace the industry. Unfortunately, the sad news has been broken today that this pioneer has passed away at the wonderful age of 92.

Ray Harryhausen was a visual effects legend (and that is no less than he deserves) and he pioneered the stop motion movement. He brought stop motion to the big screen; hand crafting and painting his figures and then shooting them frame by frame in a long, tedious process that eventually ended up contributing to some of the most famous films of all time.

Harryhausen’s work can be seen in films such as The Golden Voyage of Sinbad and Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, but his two most famous contributions were to Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans, it seems even the incredible CGI advances can’t help make a modern Clash of the Titans better than the stop motion original. Jason and the Argonauts produced some of the best special effects seen at the time: the multiple headed Hydra and the skeleton soldiers rising from the ground to name but two.

Compared to modern special effects Harryhausen’s work does look dated, but his contribution to the movie industry cannot be underestimated and his presence will forever be recognised. He may not have been a director but when the films featured Harryhausen’s animation work, they were HIS films.

This brilliant video puts together all of Ray Harryhausen’s creatures together…

Two years ago the Harry Potter saga came to an end and now it looks as though two of it’s lead stars, Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson, have found themselves a new franchise each. Daniel Radcliffe is in final negotiations to play the role of Igor, Frankenstein’s assistant, who the story is set to be based around (despite the fact that this character does not appear in the original novel). Emma Watson is set to become Disney’s next princess as she is in final negotiations to play Cinderella in the new adaptation (a basic retelling of the original story) directed by Kenneth Branagh. Cate Blanchett will be playing Cinders’ wicked stepmother.

In general casting news, two of my most anticipated sequels in the coming years have added new (and old) cast members. X-Men: Days of Future Past has now confirmed that Halle Berry will return as Storm along with several other former characters. As well as this Omar Sy has been cast and speculation is rife that he will be portraying the time traveling mutant Bishop (although it might be more likely he will be cast as an evil human leader). And in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes news: the brilliant, incredible actor Gary Oldman has joined as a human revolutionist, meaning it’s safe to assume that the troubled sequel is in safe hands after all.

Good news for comedy fans as FOX has give the go ahead to Let’s Be Cops, a story of two friends looking for more out life and so they pretend to be cops; but when they get involved with a real lief gangster the game gets real. Let’s Be Cops will be directed by Luke Greenfield (The Girl Next Door) and will star Damon Wayans Jr. (Happy Endings) and Jake Johnson (New Girl).

If they cast Max Greenfield too they’re onto a winner!

And finally… this week has seen Transcendence really get a shift on with their casting as it seems to be one of Warner Bros. top priorities at the minute. For anyone who doesn’t know Transcendence will be the directorial debut of Oscar winning cinematographer Wally Pfister. The plot is pretty complicated but it centres on a scientist whose brain is uploaded into his creation, a supercomputer with the potential to think for itself, after he is assassinated by anti-technology terrorists. Johnny Depp has been cast in the lead role and this could see the resurgence of his career at long last! Also added to the cast this week is Paul Bettany (A Knight’s Tale) and Rebecca Hall (Iron Man 3). Transcendence is one of the most exciting science fiction films in production at the minute and is set to start shooting in April with a 2014 release date on the cards.

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.

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.

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…?

Whenever Marvel move along with their casting that always interests me and there are two important pieces of casting news this week. Firstly, it has been announced who will be playing Star-Lord, the lead role, in the ambitious Guardians of the Galaxy. That man will be Chris Pratt. Pratt is currently on cinema screens in Zero Dark Thirty where he is receiving a lot of praise for his performance and he has also recently starred in Moneyball and The Five-Year Engagement (where he was by far the best character) so this looks like a fine piece of casting!

And the brilliant Emily VanCamp (of fantastic hit show Revenge) has landed the lead female role in Captain America: Winter Soldier. I’m a huge fan of Revenge and VanCamp is incredible so hopefully we’ll get to see her show off her fighting skills in the Marvel sequel too. No official word on who she will be playing has been released yet but it is thought to be Sharon Carter, a relation of Cap’s love interest Peggy Carter in The First Avenger.

Pratt and VanCamp appeared alongside one another in Everwood.

 

Star Wars news: Disney looking to cash in as quick as possible! This week Disney have announced that they will be working on standalone spin-off films. Now, I don’t like this idea because I’m not a fan of Star Wars on the whole, but as I understand it Star Wars (all six episodes) is the story of the Skywalker family. And that is how it should stay! Sure, lots of people want to explore the Star Wars universe but do you have to really do this blatant money making scheme to achieve that? Anyway, it is rumoured that a Yoda spin-off is going to be the first to be developed.

Back in 2007 Timothy Olyphant was the star of the Hitman film, an adaptation of the successful video game series that fans could never really decide whether they liked it or not. Just a mere six years later and Fox have decided what they are going to do with the franchise: reboot it with Paul Walker in the title role of Agent 47. I like Walker as much as anyone in the Fast & Furious franchise but has anything else he has done been a hit? Don’t even mention Into the Blue, what the hell was that?! But anyway, I just don’t see Walker as a good fit for the role and would have preferred to have seen Olyphant return to shave his head once again.

And finally, Benedict Cumberbatch has landed the lead role in The Imitation Game. The film follows Alan Turing, an important man of British history said to be the father of computer science as he played a pivotal role in the creation of the modern computer and also helped crack the “Enigma Code” during World War 2. The script was bought for seven figures with Leonardo DiCaprio set to star in the film but with him deciding to take a break Cumberbatch has landed the role. There’s sure to be some Oscar love for this when it eventually gets released.

Cumberbatch’s career is really taking off!

This week has seen a lot of casting being announced for several high profile comic book movies. I will start with The Amazing Spider-Man 2: with the original cast on board and the casting of Jamie Foxx as Electro and Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn. Now it seems like another villain is going to be in the mix: Rhino. Although, recent incarnations of the character have seen Rhino have a more sympathetic side so that may indicate that Rhino may play a similar role to that of Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises. The man in talks for the role is the ever wonderful Paul Giamatti. This would be very interesting casting as Giamatti isn’t known for being a very physically fit actor but he is flawless in his performances so this could be something to look out for!

 

Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen and Hugh Jackman have already signed on to a return to the X-men franchise (although Jackman never really left) but this week has seen more familiar names from the original trilogy return for X-men: Days of Future Past. Shawn Ashmore (Iceman), Anna Paquin (Rogue) and Ellen Page (Shadowcat) are all set to return. Shadowcat plays a very important part in the comic book storyline this film is adapting but it is unclear how she will feature in the film. One thing that Bryan Singer (director) has promised though, is that Days of Future Past will include time travel that ‘makes sense’ and that it will be the biggest X-men film yet. I, for one, can not wait!

Sin City is often forgotten when talking about comic book movies because it isn’t your traditional comic book type film. However, among critics and fans it is one of the most highly praised of the genre. And after the recent casting of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ray Liotta the title role has now been filled in the sequel – Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. Playing the dame is the wonderful Eva Green, one of my favourite Bond girls ever, although that isn’t really saying a lot taking into account my view on the Bond franchise as a whole.

And finally, we knew that Marvel would be spearheading ‘Phase 3’ with Ant-Man and we now know that Dr. Strange will also have his origin told in a solo film after The Avengers 2. Also, there are rumours that Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man will be seen going into space in an end credits scene after Iron Man 3 and that he may also feature in the post-credits scene of Guardians of the Galaxy. This would indicate good signs for the future of Marvel’s franchises as it would suggest that Robert Downey Jr is to continue as the charming Tony Stark after Iron Man 3.

Abrams is an expert in the science fiction genre.

I’m not writing this to say that JJ Abrams isn’t a good director or film maker, it would be absurd to say something along those lines after the incredible success he has had bringing Star Trek back to the big screen along with his television work. And I have no doubt that he will do another great job making Star Wars seems relevant again. But when I saw the announcement a little bit of me did die inside. But why?

 

Well, first things first, Abrams has now committed the ultimate betrayal in the world of pop culture. When people ask you whether you prefer Star Trek or Star Wars the only acceptable answers are either ‘Trek‘ or ‘Wars‘ (occasionally someone will let you say neither) but ‘both’ is not usually an option. For around five decades now these two franchises have gone head to head and, I know it’s only films, it doesn’t really matter, but to a lot of people it will matter that Abrams has gone behind Star Trek‘s back and chosen to direct Star Wars: Episode VII. But that’s not the main reason, in fact, I couldn’t care less about this reason because I am not a huge fan of either franchise (although I loved the 2009 reboot).

The main reason for my disappointment is that it is a very boring choice, it’s a safe choice. I expected Disney to really pull out the big guns, get someone in who would create something magical who wouldn’t necessarily be everyone’s first choice but would win everyone over when the film is released in 2015, but this seems to not be the case. Abrams is a self professed fan of Star Wars so I have no doubt that his passion for the project will see that only good things come of this.

Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek reboot was met with wide critical acclaim.

However, the fact that Abrams is now directing the two biggest science fiction franchises in the galaxy, it makes the science fiction genre very boring; it almost seems like a very prestigious boy’s club and if you’re not involved you don’t get a chance. All directors have their own trademarks, their own styles and now there will no doubt be very high similarities between Star War and Star Trek which may blur the lines between the two franchises whereas they should both be kept apart.

 

Matthew Vaughn was considered to be front runner for the job.

I would have much preferred someone else who wasn’t already running a science fiction franchise to take control of Star Wars VII and install their own style and their own creativity into the project. I just don’t think this bodes well for the future of the science fiction genre having one man control the two biggest franchises. Film and cinema thrives on variety and with the vast number of science fiction releases increasing year on year, variety is becoming more and more necessary. I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed with Disney’s choice and their refusal to employ someone who could bring something different to the science fiction genre, but in 2015 I’m sure everyone will enjoy the Star Wars that JJ Abrams brings us.