Tag Archive: trilogy


UK Release Date: 13th December 2013

Stars: Peter Jackson (director), Martin Freeman, Benedict Cumberbatch, Luke Evans, Cate Blanchett, Evangeline Lilly, Richard Armitage, Hugo Weaving, Orlando Bloom, Ian McKellen, Elijah Wood, Stephen Fry

Plot: The Dwarves, Bilbo and Gandalf have successfully escaped the Misty Mountains, and Bilbo has gained the One Ring. They all continue their journey to get their gold back from the Dragon, Smaug.

The new Middle Earth trilogy began last year with An Unexpected Journey which, in my opinion, came nowhere close to touching the Lord of the Rings films and could have been a lot better, the slow pace at which events unravelled being the most alarming concern. However, it built a nice platform for the next films to advance on.

With this trailer it certainly looks as though things will be a bit more action heavy and faster paced. We get glimpses of fight scenes, the reappearance of Legolas and completely new character Tauriel (although how much fans of the source material will like her remains to be seen) and we’re also treated (or not) to seeing pretty much every character in the film jumping.

I think I do watch this trailer with a lot of cynicism, I felt hugely let down when watching An Unexpected Journey because it was so far apart from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The CGI here used for Smaug as well does not look as good as it should do in this kind of big budget movie.

I hope that upon release I am proved wrong and that Smaug looks great and the film will be exciting and action packed! It probably says a lot for this trailer that the most exciting thing, for me, was the return of Orland Bloom. And when that’s exciting, you know things are bad.

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The entertainment industry is an incredibly fickle one; one bad movie can see you go from the top of your game to the discard pile as quick as a flash. So it takes incredible determination, talent and motivation to continue on acting for so many years. 65 is usually the age of retirement over here in Britain but here are a few actors who show no signs of slowing down as they get older, just continuing to get better with age.

Robert De Niro – Born: August 17, 1943 – 69 years old.

This man really does need very little introduction. He’s been acting since the 1960’s but really made his name in the 70s with performances in The Godfather trilogy and of course his iconic performance as Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver. He’s become associated largely with gangster films but in the last decade or two he’s been slightly less picky with his roles and has taken fun roles rather than the intense ones he used to, as witnessed in Stardust and Meet the Parents. Five releases are slated for this year with more coming in 2014.

Sir Ben Kingsley – Born: 31st December, 1943 – 69 years old.

It’s actually unbelievable that Sir Ben Kingsley was once in English soap opera Coronation Street. Kingsley is often forgotten by mainstream audiences but he is clearly one of the best actors that England have ever produced. He won an Oscar for his role in Ghandi and continues to show his versatility with recent roles in Hugo, Shutter Island and Sexy Beast. Kingsley can now be seen playing Mandarin in Iron Man 3.

Sir Ian McKellen – Born: 25th May, 1939 – 73 years old.

McKellen is a true thespian. It took until the late 80s/early 90s really until McKellen became a certified film star and his career continues to thrive; really, since the turn of the century McKellen has become an actor that all different types of audiences want to see. He has shown off his talents in two iconic roles in particular, Magneto in X-Men and Gandalf in Lord of the Rings (a role he has reprised for The Hobbit trilogy), while at the same time continuing to do short films and television work as well.

Jack Nicholson – Born: 22nd April, 1937 – 75 years old.

What is there left to say about Jack Nicholson that hasn’t been said before? He is undoubtedly one of the best actors that has ever worked. That’s just a simple fact of life. He’s been acting since the 1950s and although he is taking longer breaks between work at the minute that doesn’t mean he is getting any worse. Over the years Nicholson has won three (THREE!) Oscars for his work and turned out great performances in the likes of The Shining, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Batman and The Departed. That’s a career well spent.

Morgan Freeman – Born: 1st June, 1937 – 75 years old.

He’s probably the only man in the world that people could just listen to every single day and never get bored. Has Morgan Freeman really ever been young? A lot of Freeman’s work up until the 90s was largely television work but what a decade the 90s became for him: Unforgiven, The Shawshank Redemption and Se7en saw Freeman in quite an incredible rise to fame. One that continues thanks to his role in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy.

Robert Redford – Born: 18th August, 1936 – 76 years old.

Redford has slowed down in recent years but he is not only an acclaimed actor but also has been nominated for Oscars for his directing as well (and won). This is a man who starred in some of the most famous films of all time: The Sting, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. He’s made something of a return to acting in the last couple of years with The Company You Keep (2012), All is Lost (2013) and he is set to appear in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014).

Sir Michael Caine – Born: 14th March, 1933 – 80 years old.

This year, the great actor turned eighty years old. Unbelievable considering the energy and the emotion that he still brings to all of his characters. Michael Caine has a filmography to rival anybody, he really has reached the top of his game and been there for decades as well now! The Italian Job, Zulu, Alfie, Get Carter, Hannah and Her Sisters and of course more recently he has become a regular collaborator with Christopher Nolan: The Dark Knight trilogy, The Prestige and Inception. A true legend of the acting world.

Christopher Plummer – Born: 13th December, 1929 – 83 years old.

Remember The Sound of Music? One of the most iconic films of all time? Released in 1965? Well Christopher Plummer was in that. And his career is one that seems to have really got better with age and has, in fact, flourished since the beginning of the 21st century. He has recently had roles in A Beautiful Mind, Nicholas Nickleby, National Treasure, Syriana, Up, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus and finally won an Oscar in 2012 for his role in Beginners.

These actors are true legends of their profession.

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.

Lord of the Rings is the gold standard of trilogies; each one of the three films was an excellent adventure that had brilliant characters, glorious fight scenes and plenty of enjoyment. So with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, expectations were high and a new trilogy hinged on it’s success.

An Unexpected Journey takes place sixty years before The Fellowship of the Ring and is the story of Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman). Bilbo is recruited by Gandalf (Ian McKellen) to accompany a team of thirteen dwarfs, led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) on a quest across Middle Earth to the Lonely Mountain to reclaim the dwarf’s stolen home from the dragon Smaug.

The main thing that leaps out at you as you watch An Unexpected Journey is that there has clearly been a lot of work put in to the visuals of the film; based purely on it’s aesthetics The Hobbit is a must watch, it’s just a beautiful mix of epic trailing shots over vast landscapes to the intricate creation of Rivendell, home of the elves. To be quite honest, I still find myself amazed that they can make Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage and others look a good two foot shorter than Ian McKellen but every special effect looks just as perfect as they did in Lord of the Rings.

Martin Freeman has the title role and with little experience in films before it is a huge ask of him to carry the weight of such an ambitious trilogy, but it is a task that Freeman is more than a match for as he turns in a very accomplished and polished performance. He brings this really charming sense of likeability to his character and even throws in some comedic lines as well. McKellen, as you would expect, does the standard high quality acting you would expect from him so there’s no point wasting time talking about that. The main person I was looking forward to seeing was Armitage as Thorin as I have been a fan of his since his days in the BBC’s adaptation of Robin Hood. Armitage’s character carries the burden of being the rightful King of the dwarfs and has a real hatred for elves: Thorin is a more complicated character than the film chooses to recognise but Armitage’s performance brings layers to the dwarf leader. However, it was Kili, played by Being Human‘s Aidan Turner who quickly became my favourite dwarf and if there is a finer character in Middle Earth I would like to hear about it!

Unfortunately, it wasn’t all this good…

Right from the off it seems that An Unexpected Journey is struggling to find it’s identity. Ian Holm and Elijah Wood are brought back to reprise their roles from the original trilogy in order to really cram the fact home that The Hobbit is the prequel trilogy, as if anybody needs telling this again. And the first act really struggles along with far too many character introductions given valuable time when the film could have been moving along with a lot more fluidity. There are several jokes that miss the mark every time (a tradition that unfortunately continues throughout the film) and it even skates around the edges of turning into a musical at one stage which, thankfully for everyone involved, it does not.

An Unexpected Journey never really finds a settled pacing and at times becomes incredibly dull and you can’t help but notice more than just a couple of pointless scenes thrown in for good measure. The biggest disappointment for me were the action scenes. Lord of the Rings brought us epic battle scenes in The Two Towers and Return of the King and the unforgettable death of Boromir in Fellowship, so if there’s one thing that Peter Jackson can do it’s battle scenes. But you wouldn’t know that from this film. Just when you think you might get to see some brilliant fight scenes it’s taken away from you either by a change of scene or by the dwarfs running away, which they seem to do a lot of to be honest. What could have been a great climatic battle once again turned in to a fleeing scene.

But I don’t want to end on a sour note. The return of Gollum was welcomed with open arms and his exchange with Bilbo is easily the best and most fun part of the movie; there was the appearance of the One Ring and the invisibility thrown in for good measure! The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey‘s biggest fail is that it just isn’t Lord of the Rings, but what it is is a decent story and a great block for The Desolation of Smaug to build on!

My Rating: 6/10

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.

Disney now owns three of the biggest companies in the world of movie making: Pixar, Marvel and LucasFilm, in particular the Star Wars franchise. So with these three huge franchises all working under the same roof it is inevitable that comparisons will be made, but just which is the biggest and best franchise? I will be ranking Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars out of 10 in categories such as Oscar recognition, box office takings, quality of the films and star quality.

 

Box Office

The box office takings are vital to companies and film franchises such as these three as it indicates whether there is any demand for their films any longer and obviously, at the minute, there is. The Star Wars franchise (the original trilogy and prequel trilogy) have taken $3,793,650,642 at the box office, making an average of around $632million per film. Marvel Entertainment have so far released six films of their own, from Iron Man to The Avengers and have made $3,772,055,196 (with The Avengers making up the most of that) averaging $628million per film. None of this quite matches Pixar who, since releasing Toy Story have amassed an incredible $7,794,770,758 at the global box office, however on average this only amounts to just under $600million per film.

Marks out of 10 for Box Office takings:

Pixar: 6

Marvel: 7

Star Wars: 8

 

“Son?”

Oscars

Each year the Oscars acknowledge the best films and the best efforts in making films. Marvel are really lagging behind in this area with just three nominations, two for Iron Man and one for Iron Man 2. Star Wars have so far managed to win seven Oscars with another fifteen nominations! But still this is far far behind Pixar who have been storming the Oscars with almost all of their films and have won ten Oscars for their feature films with another 30 (yes 30!) nominations!

Pixar: 10

Marvel: 1

Star Wars: 6

 

Film Quality

There is no doubt about who makes the best films out of Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars. Ever since their first release Pixar have continually churned out near perfect, enjoyable family films almost every year. With their recent releases it looks as though they have started to lag but their discography cannot be ignored. Marvel, aside from Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, have dominated the superhero genre and continue to bring out fun, light hearted but still very very good films and all of this culminated in one of the best films of 2012: The Avengers. I have never really liked Star Wars but I can appreciate that the original trilogy was good (yet nothing to really shout about) however the prequel trilogy is universally disliked.

Pixar: 10

Marvel: 8

Star Wars: 6

Star Talent

Star Wars made stars out of Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford primarily, although they were virtual unknowns at the time. However, they did attract Peter Cushing and Alec Guinness to the franchise. In the prequels they managed to cast some good British talent with Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor along with the huge Samuel L. Jackson. Marvel also signed Samuel L. Jackson up along with huge stars Robert Downey Jr, Ed Norton, Scarlett Johansson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeremy Renner, Hugo Weaving, Tim Roth, Jeff Bridges and Sam Rockwell (and that’s not even all of them!). Tom Hanks, John Ratzenberger, Michael Keaton, Kevin Spacey, John Goodman and Steve Buscemi have all provided voices for Pixar characters but a lot of the time the actors are unknown to audiences.

Pixar: 6

Marvel: 9

Star Wars: 4

 

Overall Ratings:

Pixar: 32/40.

Marvel: 25/40.

Star Wars: 24/40.

So overall Pixar comes out on top which is unsurprising to say the least! Although with their two most recent films (Cars 2 and Brave) not going down as well as previous efforts are they on the decline? Marvel have just released the third highest grossing movie of all time this year and their universe of films is only going to continue to grow and get more and more exciting. Star Wars has continued to live on in television shows since the end of the film franchise and everyone is expecting big things from the new instalment. In the next few years it will be interesting to see who Disney is getting the most from.

When Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy took the world by storm between 2001 and 2003 it looked certain that the group of heroes known as ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ would become massive stars in the world of films. Relatively unknown to mainstream audiences, most of the Fellowship had stayed away from Hollywood and seem to have done the same since. With a couple of characters set to return to Middle Earth in the upcoming Hobbit trilogy I decided to see what had become of everyone else who took part in one of the most loved, most successful and simply best trilogies of all time!

Elijah Wood – Frodo Baggins

Peter Jackson plucked Elijah Wood from near obscurity to helm this enormous series. Has so much pressure and weight ever been felt before by an actor? I’m not sure. The star of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Wood looked like he would have a huge career of success and with roles immediately after this trilogy in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Sin City it looked as though a career at the highest level was attainable for the young actor. However, recent years have seen the majority of Wood’s work come in voicing video games and going to television series. Although, this move to television cannot be complained about as he stars in the hilarious series Wilfred. You can’t help but feel like he could have had it so different though. Wood has done voice work in films such as 9 and Happy Feet but nothing that big or that successful has come his way in the floods that he may have been expecting. Elijah Wood will be taking on the role of Frodo Baggins once more in The Hobbit trilogy.

 

Ian McKellen – Gandalf

Probably the most famous of all the actors in Lord of the Rings and one of the best actors that England has ever produced, Sir Ian McKellen is now synonymous with Middle Earth as he portrayed the magnificent wizard and good friend to Frodo Baggins, Gandalf. McKellen has had an interesting career since Lord of the Rings; he finished off the X-Men trilogy, had a brief stint in British television soap Coronation Street and leant his voice to the fantastical feature Stardust. He also starred in an unsuccessful remake of cult television hit The Prisoner alongside Jim Caviezel. His work this decade has mainly consisted of short films but McKellen will be returning to Middle Earth for The Hobbit trilogy and will play an important part in getting the story going!

Viggo Mortensen  – Aragorn

Aragorn was one of the fan favourite characters in the Lord of the Rings films and for good reason. He was a very honest, strong, caring soldier and took his duties as a protector of the hobbits very seriously. Since the end of the trilogy, Mortensen has not been as prolific as some other cast members but when he has made a film it has received critical acclaim: A History of Violence, Eastern Promises (which got Viggo Mortensen a Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role), The Road and A Dangerous Method. These all cemented Mortensen as one of the best actors from the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

 

Sean Astin – Samwise Gamgee

He is the best friend that everybody wants! Astin’s career probably speaks for itself when you take into consideration that if you remove the Lord of the Rings from his career his most famous film is still The Goonies. Since the conclusion of Return of the King, Astin has not appeared in too many films and has been limited to small guest roles in television series’ including Alphas and Franklin & Bash. Astin, like his on screen best friend Elijah Wood, has also done a lot of voice work starring in animated television shows such as Special Agent Oso and the recently rebooted Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles alongside Jason Biggs.

 

Orlando Bloom – Legolas

Commonly nicknamed ‘Orlando Bland’, Bloom is arguably (although this wouldn’t be a very long argument and I challenge anyone to prove me wrong) the WORST actor among the Fellowship. Yet despite this Bloom has tasted success in Hollywood in the Pirates of the Caribbean series. Aside from this, Bloom has starred in the distinctly average Troy and Kingdom of Heaven as well as the ultimate flops The Three Musketeers and The Calcium Kid. The latter being a comedy mockumentary about a milkman turned boxer who ends up fighting the world champion in his hometown; having seen too much of The Calcium Kid than I would have liked it is amazing that anyone actually thought it would be a good idea. Orlando Bloom should not act anymore. Unfortunately, Legolas has been written in to The Hobbit. Jesus Christ.

John Rhys-Davies – Gimli

It’s hard to believe that the man who played short tempered dwarf Gimli is almost eighty years old! And Rhys-Davies boasts a back catalogue of projects dating all the way back to 1964! It is both ridiculously astonishing and incredibly commendable just how much work Rhys-Davies does and he is clearly a man that loves his trade. Before Lord of the Rings, he had already tasted success in a trilogy after appearing in the Indiana Jones films. Unfortunately, since the ending of the trilogy Rhys-Davies has slowed down in his acting and has not done anything of the same success and popularity.

 

Dominic Monaghan – ‘Merry’ Brandybuck

Dominic Monaghan is a very wonderful little English actor, despite being born in Germany. After his journeys in Middle Earth ended Monaghan said that he was inundated with fantasy roles but he wanted to try something else and that something else came in what would become the biggest show on television: LOST. In LOST, Monaghan played one of my favourite characters, drug addicted wannabe rock star Charlie Pace. After leaving LOST Monaghan starred in FlashForward which was unfortunately short lived and he also starred in Goodnight Burbank which didn’t go down too well.

Billy Boyd – ‘Pippin’ Took

Branded a ‘fool of a Took’ by Gandalf, along with Merry Pippin provided some much needed comic relief to a trilogy that otherwise focussed on such a serious story and dark themes. If you asked everyone who the actors were that portrayed the Fellowship on screen then Billy Boyd would probably be the one that least people thought of. This is unfortunate but I can’t imagine Boyd would be too concerned as he has not done too much acting work since Lord of the Rings.

 

Sean Bean – Boromir

Although his motives were unclear throughout The Fellowship of the Ring Boromir won the hearts of audiences the world over as he played his part in possibly the greatest death scene ever to be shot as he lost his life attempting to save Merry and Pippin. Sean Bean was already a very famous actor in England after playing Major Richard Sharpe in ITV’s television movies’. Since his Middle Earth demise Bean has continued to have a huge film and television career appearing in National Treasure, Silent Hill, Outlaw and Percy Jackson & The Lightning Thief. On television Bean has starred in hit shows such as Red Riding and Game of Thrones. In it for the shortest time but arguably having the best of careers out of the Lord of the Rings alumni.

With The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey out in December it looks set to launch the huge careers of Martin Freeman and Richard Armitage as well as many more!

 

With the shock announcement that Disney have bought Star Wars and plan to release a completely new trilogy beginning in 2015 it is no wonder that speculation has already begun about who would be the best choice for director. Let’s look at some of the contenders:

Christopher Nolan

Fresh from directing one of the most lauded trilogies of all time in The Dark Knight Christopher Nolan could pretty much get any gig that he wanted which, let’s be honest, makes complete sense. Every one of Nolan’s films so far has gone down a treat and with Inception he certainly showed that he is more than capable of making a truly magnificent science fiction piece and this is something that the next instalment of Star Wars needs to be!

 

Bryan Singer

In a world as big as the one that Star Wars has built for itself the ability to handle and direct an ensemble cast is a must. With X-men and X2 Singer took on a similar challenge and managed to make a couple of the best superhero films to date. Therefore, this shows that Singer has what it takes to work with a large cast and bring out specific characters. Although, with the recent announcement he is set to helm Days of Future Past then he may be out of the question.

 

Brad Bird

Bird made his name at Pixar where he was given the go ahead to direct The Incredibles and obviously because it is Pixar, as well as the fact that it is brilliant, he received a lot of praise for his work. Earlier this year Brad Bird was responsible for reviving the Mission: Impossible franchise with Ghost Protocol and made the Tom Cruise franchise a relevant and important one once more; could he do the same for Star Wars?

 

Guillermo Del Toro

The fan knows fantasy, he knows special effects and can create huge blockbusters. Del Toro is well known for his ability to draw up strange creations and to let him loose on the world of Star Wars would be, for want of a better word, pretty orgasmic. Most notable for Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth Del Toro is set to announce his return to the world of huge blockbusters with Pacific Rim next year.

 

Jon Favreau

It was Favreau’s work with Iron Man that convinced Marvel (and importantly Disney) that superhero films were worth backing and proceeding with, culminating in The Avengers. With Iron Man 2 perhaps Favreau did have too much to do and it may be a case of that happening again with Star Wars: it would be a risk but one that could be worth taking, especially as the name of Star Wars is going to bring in the audience anyway.

 

Joss Whedon

A God among geeks. Does much more need to be said about the man’s talents? It is practically impossible for Whedon to direct Star Wars unfortunately as he has a pretty tight schedule with Marvel’s Phase 2 in place at the minute but a future Episode of the huge science fiction franchise, why not?

 

Duncan Jones

The least well known of all of my choices but not at all less talented. With Moon and Source Code in his back catalogue Jones has shown that he is more than capable of telling some brilliant science fiction stories. I would love to see Jones achieve some success and get a chance to show mainstream audiences his talent although maybe this would be a step too far a little too early.

 

Obviously, most of these directors are very commercial and well known to audiences already with a proven record of directing hit films and creating believable and memorable characters whilst exploring the world that their films inhabit. This is an important trait when deciding who is going to continue the Star Wars franchise but there may be some hidden gems hiding in cracks and crevices somewhere… or even in plain sight. So let me know, who would you like to see direct the seventh instalment of Star Wars?

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.

Last year FOX released X-Men: First Class and up until release nobody really knew whether it was a reboot or a prequel to the original X-Men trilogy. After it’s release and the cameo appearances from Hugh Jackman and Rebecca Romijn still nobody knew whether it was a reboot or prequel and that continues to be a mystery as anticipation for the sequel X-Men: Days of Future Past grows with speculation that characters from the original X-Men trilogy could be in line to make a surprise return to the franchise, something which the Days of Future Past storyline from the comics would allow.

In Marvel’s comics the Days of Future Past storyline became one of the most successful X-Men titles of all time and, along with the Age of Apocalypse and House of M, is a storyline that all X-Men fans have wanted to see on the big screen. The story switches from present day to a future where the X-Men failed to stop Mystique’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants from killing Senator Kelly; in the future mutants are a dying breed as the United States are ruled by Sentinels with the mutants placed in internment camps. The present day (or past) X-Men are forewarned about this by the future version of Kitty Pryde whose mind travels back in time into the body of her younger self.

Obviously there are a few characters missing if this was to take place; both Kitty Pryde and Rachel Summers both had large parts to play in Days of Future Past in the comic books yet neither appeared in First Class and Rachel Summers hasn’t even been hinted at at all throughout the history of X-Men films. This wouldn’t be too much of a problem as the 90s cartoon version of X-Men portrayed this storyline with Bishop taking on the Kitty Pryde role, although Bishop is another character yet to make it to the big screen. However, Patrick Stewart has hinted recently that he could reprise his role of Charles Xavier and so perhaps there is a chance there to make Professor X the centre piece with Stewart’s older character finding a way to contact his younger self played by James McAvoy.

Famke Janssen has also hinted that her character could return to the X-Men continuity (which is already a mess if you want to get into the nitty gritty details, FOX really haven’t even tried to make it all add up to the correct answers) and this shouldn’t be a surprise because, yes she may have been killed by Wolverine in the awful X-Men: The Last Stand but she also ‘died’ in X2 and has died countless times in the comic books but she just keeps on coming back! I have to be honest and say that I would have really liked an X-Men 4 done properly after the travesty of The Last Stand, seeing what took place afterwards with Beast and Angel staying on at the mansion, the return of Professor X, what happened to Cyclops? It may have been poor in comparison to the previous two films but The Last Stand left ideas there for another sequel and I would like to see Cyclops, Storm and Wolverine all back on the big screen (that would also save us any more individual Jackman fuelled Wolverine efforts). But would it be right?

Obviously the storyline makes it possible for the older characters to return and continuity shouldn’t bother FOX as it never has done before but perhaps with the appointment of Mark Millar now as consultant on FOX’s Marvel properties he may manage to reign them in a little. Matthew Vaughn (director of First Class and producer of Days of Future Past) has previously stated that he only wanted to introduce one main character in the sequel and although he said that a very long time ago it would make this possibility of returning X-Men seem less likely, but would you really count the return of the original X-Men as an ‘introduction’ per say?

I would have liked to have seen an X-Men 4 and maybe a Days of Future Past film would be a good way to sort of make it happen and tie up loose ends for fans that want answers but if FOX have any sense I think they should stay away from this idea. The continuity has been tampered with too much and I think now is their chance to make First Class the real start of a reboot and cut all ties with the original trilogy. There are still plenty of characters they could introduce to still make the Days of Future Past storyline anything like the comics by introducing Bishop for example. The X-Men roster is always growing so there are countless ways to take this story.

What do you think?