Tag Archive: trilogy


A VERY happy Mr. James Marsden

James Marsden is a recognisable face in the world of movies. Marsden has been in some very popular films of a couple of genres so it strikes me that he is not more famous than he is, but there is a very good reason (or very bad, depending on how you look at it) as to why his career hasn’t quite reached the heights that I thought it would earlier in his career. This reason is the cause of the title for this post and all will become clear in a few minutes.

James Paul Marsden began acting in the 1990s and his career began like so many others, with bit part appearances here and there in a number of, what can only be deemed unsuccessful, television shows. Luckily, in 1996 Marsden landing a lead role in family drama TV series Second Noah and this ran for two seasons, with a further three final episodes being commissioned after fan campaigns. After the shows cancellation Marsden moved into films; after a couple of made for television movies he appeared in Disturbing Behaviour alongside Katie Holmes (the film didn’t do very well) and then Gossip which only made half of its budget back and again failed. After this start it’s a wonder Marsden made it as big as he has done, but he could have been bigger. Here’s what happened…

In the year 2000, after the success of Blade, a movie was being made out of another popular Marvel property. It was of course, the best superhero team of all time, the X-Men. And James Marsden was cast in the role of Scott Summers, or as he is more popularly known Cyclops. This SHOULD have propelled James Marsden into a huge Hollywood star, should being the most important word here. Anyone who knows anything about the X-Men knows that Cyclops is the rightful leader of the X-Men. However, this was a characteristic drastically overlooked during the X-Men films (although this was the only real complaint I have about the first two films, the third is a different kettle of fish altogether). So really, Cyclops and James Marsden should have taken centre stage in one of the most successful trilogies of all time and would have rightfully become a household name; the unfortunate truth is that unless you take a real interest in the X-Men films or make a habit of watching romantic comedies, you probably won’t know who he is. Why? Simple.

Wolverine. The popularity of Wolverine among comic book fans is very rarely matched by another character and it is for this reason that in all three of the X-Men films featuring James Marsden Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine took centre stage. This forced the character of Cyclops into the background and he became a bit of an unimportant character, seemingly his only function was to marginally get in the way of Wolverine and Jean Grey’s romance and he didn’t even do that well. You can’t blame James Marsden for taking the part as leader of the X-Men but surely he would have hoped for a more heroic role in the films before tragically being sort of (I still don’t believe he actually died) killed off in X-Men: The Last Stand.

The reason for Cyclops disappearing in X-Men: The Last Stand was because James Marsden had taken a part in Superman Returns, another film in which he had a relatively small and unimportant part, there again to have his on screen ruined by the main hero of the piece (he does get a bit of bad luck this James Marsden chap) and of course Superman Returns disappeared into comic book movie obscurity rather unsurprisingly as it was very dull. But aside from comic book movies James Marsden has mainly stuck to romantic movies. He had a role in arguably one of the most popular films of all time – The Notebook. He has also starred in romantic comedies such as 27 Dresses and Sex Drive; the musical Hairspray; the fantasy half animated-half live action Enchanted and a film some critics called the worst of all time The Box.

This year, Marsden made a successful move back to television with a role in comedy 30 Rock although his time on television this time looks set to be short lived with 2013 having quite a few films slated for release with James Marsden attached. There’s dramedy As Cool As I Am, thriller The Loft, Enchanted 2 is in the pipeline to be made in the next couple of years. Perhaps the most exciting movie James Marsden is attached to at the minute though is something I am very much looking forward to and is a shoe-in for a few Oscar nominations when it is released. This is The Butler about the life of Cecil Gaines who served as White House butler to eight American presidents over three decades. The cast is full of real Hollywood stars and emerging talent: James Marsden, Forest Whitaker, Alan Rickman, Robyn Williams, Alex Pettyfer, Melissa Leo, Minka Kelly, John Cusack,  Jane Fonda, Terrence Howard, Liev Schreiber and Lenny Kravitz. James Marsden will be playing the great John F. Kennedy himself.

With The Butler, James Marsden has the chance to get the recognition he deserves and reach the heights of fame that he should have done a decade or so ago. If the films had been more true to the comic books with the X-Men then James Marsden would already have achieved so much more than he has. Of course, this isn’t to say that his career has been a washout because he has still had it pretty good; but if X-Men didn’t focus so much on Wolverine it could have all been so different for James Marsden. He never looks disappointed though, I’ve never seen a picture of him without a smile on his face!

James Marsden on set as John F. Kennedy – he’s either blinking or sneakily checking out Minka Kelly… you decide.

After the tragic loss of action director Tony Scott a few weeks ago this is another sad week for Hollywood. The incredible Michael Clarke Duncan has sadly passed away just two months after suffering a heart attack that he never really fully recovered from. It’s horrible news especially considering the fact that news reports have emerged that Duncan and his reality television personality girlfriend planned on getting married next year and had talked about having children together. Michael Clarke Duncan is best known for his role in The Green Mile which he was Oscar nominated for but he also starred in Sin City, The Green Lantern and Armageddon.

In other news there is yet another film in pre-production about former American president Abraham Lincoln. This follows the unique take on the 16th president Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter and the upcoming Steven Spielberg biopic starring the hyphenated cast of Daniel Day-Lewis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt entitled Lincoln. The title of the new film is The Green Blade Rises and will be directed by Terrence Malick. In the past Malick has taken long gaps between his films but his schedule seems to be pretty busy for the next two or three years. It’ll be interesting to see whether the success of Spielberg’s Lincoln affects this new take positively or negatively, if even at all.

Daniel Day-Lewis as President Lincoln

As many people will know by now The Hobbit has been announced as a trilogy and there has been a release date and title change for the films. The first part, out later this year, will still be named An Unexpected Journey. The second instalment will be titled The Desolation of Smaug to be released around Christmas 2013 whilst the third and final (for now) chapter adopts the name There and Back Again (originally the title for the second film) and will hit summer 2014.

Michael Bay continued to ruin childhoods this past week. He managed to anger Transformers fans when he continued to make each film worse than the previous one and then angered Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fans by deciding their new origin would be that they are aliens from another planet. Now the terrible explosion happy director has had to come out and deny that the leaked script for the new TMNT film is actually the final one because everyone who is anyone has been slating it and saying how awful it is. Michael Bay has a lot of work on his hands and is quickly becoming very very unpopular among movie fans and anyone with taste.

I actually enjoyed the most recent CGI outing of TMNT.

Finally, it has been in the pipeline for some time but it has now been announced that Metal Gear Solid, the hugely successful video game, is to be adapted into a film. Avi Arad, who has produced almost every single movie about a Marvel character, will be producing the film. Metal Gear Solid has already been integrated into a hilarious comedy routine by Dara O’Briain but will it be turned into a film just as good? The main problem is who should play main character Snake? Some of the names being touted around fan forums so far include Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Bradley Cooper and Sam Worthington. The favourite and specifically mentioned by the games creator Hideo Kojima seems to be Hugh Jackman. I think Jackman would be a great choice as he can clearly pull off being a bad ass like he has done in the X-Men films playing Wolverine. But if they are to get Jackman they need to start moving forward with the project soon before he gets too old.

The Bourne Legacy Review

Aaron Cross is the new hero of the Bourne franchise.

Ten years ago, in 2002, Jason Bourne discovered went looking for his Identity, in 2004 Bourne appeared once again to unleash his Supremacy and in 2007 he never actually delivered an Ultimatum but this was the title of the film nonetheless. Now, the year is 2012 and a new leading agent, Aaron Cross, is dealing with the aftermath of Bourne’s actions, the Legacy that has been left behind.

The Bourne Legacy was always going to be a difficult task. The original trilogy of Bourne films are critically acclaimed and even more loved by fans, it is one of the most successful and greatest trilogies of all time without a bad film in the franchise. Now, minus Matt Damon in the lead role and Paul Greengrass in the director’s chair the task becomes even harder. A good move by the studio was to hire Tony Gilroy to write the fourth film, which would turn into a sequel/reboot/paraquel, since he wrote the original trilogy as well. And what started out as simply writing the first draft turned into a full writing and directing job for Gilroy meaning that they had someone in control who could capture the essence of the original films and was already involved in the Bourne universe rather than bringing in a stranger.

It doesn’t get much cooler than this.

Legacy does a fantastic job of both establishing a new character, story and opening up the story as well as coupling these events with the actions that take place within The Bourne Ultimatum. The opening scene pretty much does this immediately with Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) beginning the film in the same way Jason Bourne left it: lying motionless in the water before suddenly moving into action. The occasional mention of Jason Bourne help to keep the film in the same universe without relying on it too much to continue the story.

Action scenes have always been vital in the Bourne franchise and these have been lauded by fans over and over again because they are perfectly choreographed and have a proper gritty sense of realism. There are worries at the beginning that this may not be the case with The Bourne Legacy as it takes a while for some big fight scenes to take place. Instead we have to settle for Aaron Cross finding his way through some mountains, shooting a few things with a rifle and bonding with some other random agent in a log cabin in the snow. There is a little taster of what’s to come when Cross takes on a wolf but then the action gets so much better when Cross tracks down and saves Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), killing four people in the process using everything from the ordinary (a gun) to the unexpected that Bourne is known for (a table, fire extinguisher). The stunts and fight scenes are just as good, if not better in my opinion, as the original trilogy’s.

Renner and Weisz prove a winning combination on screen.

The performances from everyone in the cast are very solid. Jeremy Renner, continuing his great year following Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and The Avengers, is brilliant in the lead role and has fantastic chemistry with Rachel Weisz which really helps in the believability of their relationship towards one another as it builds through the film. Weisz herself is actually very good as well. Ed Norton doesn’t have much to do unfortunately but I anticipate a bigger role for him in the sequel which The Bourne Legacy certainly leaves itself open to and I wouldn’t be surprised if a script was already being written as I write this.

The Bourne Legacy does exactly what it needs to. It does a great job of exploring the world that we know Bourne lives in and gives insight to how his actions have affected people’s lives that were never given a second thought to before. With Matt Damon leaving this was a great direction to go. It doesn’t quite live up to the original trilogy but what it does is leave itself open for it’s own franchise to be headed by Jeremy Renner and hopefully Tony Gilroy will stay on writing duties even if he steps down from directing. Fans of the first three films should enjoy The Bourne Legacy but it is a hard place to jump in to what is already a pretty complicated series of films.

My Rating: 7/10.

Sometimes, appearing in a huge franchise can make you become a household name across the world and the rest of your career becomes easy, but for some actors (and quite often better ones) are forced to play from the sidelines; consistently being a supporting actor and never the main role, this is the case for Karl Urban. Urban is an actor from New Zealand who, despite having gained critical acclaim for films in his homeland he has never been thought of as a leading man for Hollywood, yet unless you have been living on Mars you will have seen him in quite a few of his films, ones that you could even count among your favourites, but you just might now know.

As I mentioned Urban started out working in his home country of New Zealand and here he started out working in the theatre and appearing on television adverts. Karl Urban then got a break after being seen internationally by appearing on the television series’ Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess in the recurring roles of Cupid and Julius Caesar. After fulfilling his work on television he appeared in an offbeat romance film entitled The Price of Milk for which he received a nomination at the New Zealand Qantas Film and Television Awards; he later appeared in Out of the Blue (2007), a dramatisation of New Zealand’s Aramoana massacre and gained positive reaction and the Qantas Film and Television Award for Best Supporting Actor.

So now lets move on to what I know him for: being a supporting actor in a number of franchises. The first of them, and arguably the biggest of all of his films is Lord of the Rings. Now, Lord of the Rings has a huge cast and story that spreads itself over three films so there’s no doubt that you’re not going to be able to name all of the actors an actresses who were a part of the project, but Karl Urban had a pretty decent role in The Two Towers and Return of the King. Karl Urban played Éomer. Éomer has quite a significant role in the books which is diminished in Peter Jackson’s trilogy but he still plays a part. In the films Éomer is made an outcast but is present at the Battle of Helm’s Deep as he remains loyal to the King of Rohan, he is also responsible for the death of the leader of the Haradrim. After this part in one of the most successful trilogies of all time you could have forgiven Karl Urban for thinking he was going to have a pretty tasty career.

The final chapter of The Lord of the Rings trilogy was released in 2003 and in 2004 Urban appeared in two more franchises significantly differing in quality. First was The Chronicles of Riddick where Urban plays the villain to Vin Diesel’s hero and as such Urban’s character dies in the climatic battle scene. This was a first taste of Hollywood films really and an encouraging start although the film itself didn’t go down well with critics. Despite this, Urban’s next choice was superb. If you missed Karl Urban in Lord of the Rings you may have seen him in The Bourne Supremacy (part of another of the best trilogies of all time). In Supremacy Karl Urban is again the villain playing second fiddle to Matt Damon’s hero who everyone loves; Urban was the Russian agent Kirill who killed Marie but inevitably failed in his mission to kill Bourne himself.

In 2007 Karl Urban got a shot at being the leading man in Pathfinder, a Viking adventure film. The film itself lacks in the dialogue area and replaces it with an emphasis on violence, blood and gore… this was probably a reason for the harshly negative reaction to it, however I don’t mind the film but it certainly didn’t do anything to help Karl Urban’s career.

As a childhood fan of Star Trek Urban actively pursued a role in the 2009 reboot.

In 2009 Urban returned to doing what he does best and decided to hang around in the background of another huge blockbuster: Star Trek. This is probably a role that Urban is most famous for to fans across the globe. In JJ Abrams reboot of the famous science fiction series Urban plays Dr. Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy who becomes Kirk’s first (and pretty much only) friend at Starfleet Academy. As Bones, Urban injected (a nice little pun for those who have seen the film) some comedic moments into Star Trek and his performance is held in high regard by fans of the original series.

After appearing in Red and Priest, Urban gets another chance at being a lead man in a big blockbuster this year in Dredd, a reboot of the 1995 film starring Sylvester Stallone, in which Urban will be playing Judge Dredd. The film itself is being hotly anticipated by fans of the comic book character  and it received positive reception at Comic Con which has probably the hardest crowd to please in the world.

At the age of 40 it may be a little late for Karl Urban to make that step to the forefront after being in the secondary roles for so long but it is not unheard of. Urban has a real talent for acting and I have enjoyed every one of his performances that I have seen. In my opinion Karl Urban has not got the recognition or fan base that he deserves but with the Star Trek franchise looking as though it could stretch out easily for a few films then he may get it there or in any upcoming Judge Dredd sequels. He deserves it, that’s for sure.

Here’s a video of Karl Urban talking about his role in Star Trek and just generally being cool. His colleagues seem to love him too!

There has been a lot of movie news this week and there is a lot that I am interested in around directors, casting news, sequel announcements but all of these things come with fans and haters. As such, there have been a few announcements made that I am not too happy about. So let’s start with the bad things:

“But Mr. Jackson, this contract just says two films?”

As we know, Lord of the Rings prequel The Hobbit has already been split into two parts, the first will hit cinemas this year with the second chapter following in 2013. Fans were already a bit skeptical about this money making move because of the lack of material in Tolkien’s original book but now they are set to be angered even more. Peter Jackson, director of The Hobbit, has announced that The Hobbit will be a trilogy with the material from the third film thought to be coming from Tolkien’s appendices (the final chapter) of Return of the King, so not exactly The Hobbit is it? Peter Jackson needs to be careful with his Lord of the Rings treatment otherwise he will become as hated by his own fas as George Lucas by the Star Wars fans.

In 1987 Masters of the Universe was made with Dolph Lundgren. In recent years there have been rumours that the film will be remade and it appears that headway is being made. I would be interested in seeing this as I grew up watching He-Man and the Masters of the Universe on tele. However, the news that Jon M. Chu is in talks to direct is what has me worried. Chu’s most famous directorial outings to date are Step Up 2: The Streets and Step Up 3D; he also directed the absolutely disgusting, despicable, outrageous, vomit inducing concert biography that i’m not even going to mention on here but look it up if you’re interested. He is known for having dance in his movies and says this is because “dancers motivate me the most” but lets hope we don’t see He-Man and his friends breaking into street dancing when fighting Skeletor.

Avatar became one of the highest grossing films of all time when it was released in 2009 and since then James Cameron always said there would be more sequels but it has been delayed and delayed. Some people expected a 2012 release, then it got pushed back to 2013, 2014 and now the latest news has it slated for a 2015 release. Will they ever get made? Will Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana be able to reprise their roles when the sequel eventually moves forward? Let’s hope so.

Avatar is one of the most visually stunning films ever!

And now the good!-

The next instalment of the Fast & Furious franchise has announced its next new cast member after Gina Carano, Luke Evans and Clara Paget have all been added. It has now been confirmed that Joe Taslim will be joining Vin Diesel and company for Fast Six or whatever it ends up being called. Taslim starred in The Raid: Redemption that received great reviews and showcased that Taslim has a talent for action films.

Here is the news that so many film fans have been waiting for. There have been a few comments made by important people this week that could indicate that a sequel is in the works for one of the funniest film series’ I have ever seen one of the most enjoyable action series’ that I have ever seen and introduced one of the on screen duos with so much chemistry that work surprisingly well together. RUSH HOUR 4 may well be on the cards!! That’s right, Rush Hour 4!!

There aren’t enough words to describe how excited I am for a new Rush Hour film!

Earlier this year, Jackie Chan suggested that he would be quitting action movies.. what he  clearly forgot to mention that he has since said is that he does not want to quit until he has made a Rush Hour 4. Chris Tucker is also back on the big screen this year after a five year hiatus and is clearly feeling the time is right for him to get back into the world of acting. Now producer Arthuer Sarkissian has dropped the biggest hints yet that a fourth film will be on the cards. At the Television Critics Association press tour Sarkissian said that he is already working on a fourth film with both Tucker and Chan! He said that he was not too happy with how the third film turned out but what he wanted to do was make a fourth seem more real, put the two characters in a different world (Sarkissian cited Fast Five as a template of how to do this) and also introduce two new characters. Could Chan and Tucker be passing on the franchise to two new actors? For now, who cares?! Let’s just get Rush Hour 4 out right now!!!

Christopher Nolan is an absolute genius. I love him as a director and a storyteller; every single one of his films, be it Memento, Inception or The Dark Knight trilogy are wonderful masterpieces of cinema and The Prestige is no different. Released in 2006, The Prestige is based on the 1995 novel of the same name written by Christopher Priest, the novel was adapted into a screenplay by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan.

The Prestige is a very complicated telling of a very complex professional and personal rivalry of two magicians. As young aspiring magicians Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) were friends and colleagues until a trick went wrong and Angier’s wife was killed. Angier blamed Borden for this as he suspects Borden tied an unbreakable knot around his wife’s wrists before a drowning trick. This leads to a rivalry that becomes an obsession for the both of them; each man obsesses with what the other man is doing and how he is doing it, both men sabotaging each other’s tricks in attempts to discredit or even murder their opponents. It is a deadly rivalry revolving around the greatest trick of all time: Borden’s Transported Man.

Jackman and Bale lead the cast brilliantly. Bale is somewhat of an enigma to me where his acting skills are concerned, despite always putting in a solid performance I often feel as if he has more to give and that he is holding something back but as we move forward through The Prestige it becomes clear that Bale is giving his best. Scarlett Johansson is the lead female playing the beautiful assistant to Angier, then Borden, Olivia Wenscombe who becomes both a pawn and a player within their games. I think that Olivia is an example of Nolan not really knowing entirely what to do with female characters as she seems to lack the motivation the two male leads are given and she often comes across as just a lovesick blonde. The remaining supporting cast consists of Michael Caine, Andy Serkis and David Bowie who perform very well as you would expect (maybe not of Bowie but he proves he has a talent for this).

Alfred Borden and Robert Angier are wonderful characters. They are both completely believable and Nolan does a great job of blurring the lines of morality between the two; neither are wholly good or wholly bad and I believe that the audience can choose which side to take (perhaps only after sitting through multiple viewings though). The Prestige is told in a non-linear fashion and shoots back and forth between the present day and the past as the characters attempt to discover each other’s secrets through reading their diaries. The plots then come together and once they do the film really draws to a perfect finale. The final act, or ‘the prestige’, of Nolan’s phenomenal film has more twists than a bag of pretzels, each one being more significant than the last.

The rewatchability factor of The Prestige is right up there. Watching over and over again you see more and more clues that give away the ending which you don’t see the first time round because “you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to work it out. You want to be fooled”. The whole film is layered in foreshadowing, clue after clue to what the ending is working towards but if you don’t know then you won’t see it coming, you won’t work it out no matter how much you let your mind run wild yet it is so simple.

The Prestige may get forgotten about among Nolan’s works next to the originality of Memento and Inception and the hype around The Dark Knight but seriously, this is a perfect example of a story being told to the best it can be. Nolan proves himself to be a true magician behind the camera with this film carved into his very own magic trick: the Pledge, the Turn and finally, the hardest part of all, the Prestige.

My Rating: 10/10

It is one of the most anticipated films of all time and how well it is received will determine how Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy is seen by future generations; whether it really is one of the greatest film trilogies of all time or whether it burns out over two films and disappears without a trace after a poor final chapter. After watching Batman Begins and The Dark Knight yesterday, I was ready for whatever Christopher Nolan had to throw at me with The Dark Knight Rises…or at least I thought I was.

The previous two films opened wonderfully: Batman Begins brought us Bruce Wayne’s origin as a child (or at least part of it) and his place in the real world at present day, The Dark Knight brought us one of the best opening sequences of all time with the Jokers bank robbery. ‘Rises‘ introduces the audience to a new world, eight years after the last confirmed sighting of Batman, Harvey Dent is still celebrated as a hero and Gotham’s streets are free of crime thanks to a police department headed up by Commissioner Gordon (the role reprised once more by the brilliant Gary Oldman). We are introduced early on to new characters in the franchise; Bane, John Blake, Miranda Tate and Selina Kyle aka. Catwoman.

Of these newcomers it was Blake who I looked forward to seeing the most because the stature of his character struck my curiosity and he is played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt who is one of my favourite actors. However, it was Anne Hathaway as Catwoman that really stole the show for me. Nolan has proved doubters wrong by writing a strong conflicted female character who is more than a match for Bruce Wayne himself. In Batman Begins and The Dark Knight I felt that the only places the films really lost points was in the fight scenes; I never found Batman’s fight scenes as exciting or thrilling as I should have because it always felt a little too staged, too jarred but when Catwoman kicks ass in The Dark Knight Rises she really goes for it and the choreography is excellent, the fights are seamless and exciting, they are really incredible sequences. The eventual final climatic fight between Batman and Bane (played by another brilliant English actor Tom Hardy) is better than any fight scenes of the previous two instalments as well.

The plot can be condensed into a simple sentence: Batman has to stop the city of Gotham being blown up by Bane. Replace the two character names and the name of the city and that plot could fit any generic action movie. But to do this, to try and explain the plot of The Dark Knight Rises in one sentence is to do yourself and the film a massive injustice. There are enough twists and turns, revelations and red herrings to keep the audience interested and invested in the story and it moves at the perfect pace; you can tell it’s a long film but everything, every tiny piece of detail and dialogue is needed and it is well worth sitting through!

The Dark Knight Rises is a brilliantly written film, it is directed beautifully and every single member of the cast, young and old, performs excellently to make this wonderful masterpiece. With a cast that boasts so many big names (Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Juno Temple, Cillian Murphy, Gary Oldman, Liam Neeson and Matthew Modine) it would have been just as easy to let them run riot and it still would have been brilliant to watch but with Christopher Nolan at the helm this pool of talent brought their very best to the table to make one of the best films of all time and bring the final curtain on a trilogy that will define the superhero genre but the whole face of cinema for years to come.

My Rating: 10/10

Pixar are responsible for bringing to life some of the greatest film characters of all time!

For years and years now Pixar have been one of the best studios in the movie business. Pixar have been turning out perfect films over and over again since their first feature length film back in 1995; that film of course was Toy Story. Since then Pixar have continued to make perfect films, some of my favourites including Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc, Wall-E and that’s not even mentioning Cars, Up, A Bug’s Life, Ratatouille or The Incredibles. It is plain to see that Pixar have a knack for creating real works of art with some of the best characters to ever grace the cinema screen. They have often been thought of, especially by me, as one of the best studios making films today because of their originality, their creativity and their lust to tell a story that hasn’t been told before on the big screen in a time where plenty of the biggest studios in Hollywood are relying on sequels, reboots, fairy tale adaptations and even origin stories for famous films. In other words, studios are getting desperate but Pixar always seemed like the bright spark within the industry but are they now turning in to just another studio?

Edwin E. Catmull – Co-founder and current President of Pixar Animations.

This week Pixar have announced plans to make a sequel to 2003 hit (and one of the best and most touching stories Pixar have ever told) Finding Nemo, to be directed by Andrew Stanton, the man behind the original film and Wall-E. This follows the news that there is development for a Toy Story 4 in the pipeline and of course next year a prequel to Monsters Inc called Monsters University will be released. There are also rumours that a sequel is in development for Pixar’s very own superpowered family The Incredibles. This follows the hugely successful Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3 and the film seen by many as the worst Pixar have ever made, Cars 2. Obviously, film fans everywhere will be rejoicing at the fact that plans to bring Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Mike, Sulley, Nemo, Marlin and Dory all back to the big screen because they are characters that were a huge part of so many people’s childhood and there will always be a sentimental connection towards those characters in the hearts of anyone who has ever watched these films. But are these proposed sequels bad news for Pixar and film fans in general?

The Toy Story franchise is a rare example of a trilogy where every film is of the highest quality, you can debate for days and days about which one is the best and why it is better than the other two but never will everyone agree. However, with Cars 2 it is the opinion of many that Pixar got it wrong; it didn’t really need a sequel and it wasn’t as good as the first one, it’s sort of a blotch on an otherwise stainless list of films in Pixar’s history. This means that if Pixar get it wrong with another sequel/prequel it could dampen feelings towards their much beloved characters.

Pixar’s feature length films have won a combined total of 11 Oscars and earned another 30 nominations!

Since 2003 Pixar have released a single film each year and it has done well commercially no matter what because Pixar is a name that will put bums on seats in cinemas, there remains no doubt about that. But with the news of the sequels it could signal one of two things: either Pixar is trying to follow suit of several other major film companies and milk the popularity of their characters for every last penny they can get out of them (something Disney are already managing to do with most of their character history) or rather more sadly, Pixar may just be running out of ideas. However, Pixar have said, although this was many years ago, that they would not consider making a sequel to one of their films if they couldn’t tell a story that was as good as the original, this suggests that a lot of hard work and thought will go into making these films but it will be a shame if this signals a slowing down in the creativity of Pixar because their characters have staying power like no others and everyone will be missing out if Pixar does indeed become ‘just another studio’.

When The Amazing Spider-Man was announced there was a mixture of uproar and confusion among audiences. After all, Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire’s trilogy had only ended in 2007 and Spider-Man 3 became the highest grossing movie of that franchise so why start from scratch again, why not continue? Everyone had an opinion on whether it should be rebooted or not but one thing was guarantee; whether it was Spider-Man 4 or The Amazing Spider-Man people were going to see it because Spider-Man is one of the most popular superheroes in the world. I will only make one comparison between The Amazing Spider-Man and the trilogy of the last decade and it is this:

Things that are better in The Amazing Spider-Man than in Sam Raimi’s trilogy: EVERYTHING.

Andrew Garfield takes on the role of teenager Peter Parker who after being bitten by a spider… blah blah blah. Everyone knows the story, so what is different here? This time Peter Parker is looking to try and find out who he is, why his parents disappeared when Peter was just a child, what work his father was working on that was kept so secret. All the time, trying to come to terms with his new abilities and manage a love life with the beautiful Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), avoid being captured by the head of New York Police who just so happens to be Gwen Stacy’s father (Denis Leary) and eventually saving New York from a huge giant Lizard, or Dr Curt Connors, if you would prefer, (Rhys Ifans). So really, he’s got it easy.

Andrew Garfield in the lead role is superb. A genuine fan of Spider-Man since he was a kid and it shows in the charisma and life he brings to the troubled teenager on screen; he carries a great emotional range and the one liners and witty remarks are delivered perfectly. The chemistry with his co-star Emma Stone is there for all to see and she puts in a performance to rival that of Garfield’s. The lead duo are supported excellently by Rhys Ifans, a man born to play villains. But my favourite performance of The Amazing Spider-Man is from Michael Sheen as Uncle Ben, really really fantastic!

The Amazing Spider-Man is visually wonderful and I really would not have expected anything less from director Marc Webb. A lot of trust was put in Webb with this being only his second ever film and his first on a big budget but he proved with (500) Days of Summer that he has a great talent for capturing great performances, stunning visuals and examining relationships.

Despite this being a clear superhero comic book movie film, the superhero antics seem to take a back seat and we are allowed to delve deeper into the characters. Peter Parker is clearly a conflicted guy who has grown up having a troubled life which isn’t about to get any easier and the relationships he forms with his Uncle and Aunt are really well written, his relationship with Gwen Stacy (a vital part of Spider-Man history in the comic books) is dealt with wonderfully and with a huge deal of respect. You get a real sense that all of these characters are believable in their motivations, their friendships, their triumphs and short comings.

The Amazing Spider-Man doesn’t quite match up to The Avengers and probably won’t beat The Dark Knight Rises either but what we have here is proof that they were right to reboot the Spider-Man series. Seeing Andrew Garfield as the wise-cracking friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man is a treat that everyone should witness.

My Rating: 9/10

Some weeks go by when there is not a single thing happening in the movie world that I am bothered about and then all of a sudden three things come along at once:

 

First up, there is a new Van Helsing film in development! Before you question why this is good news, you first have to know that this will not be a sequel to the awful Hugh Jackman interpretation of the character back in 2004, this will be a complete reboot. The reboot is to be written by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, a writing pair that can boast hits such as Star Trek, Fringe, Alias, The Legend of Zorro, Mission: Impossible III, Transformers and, to a lesser extent, Cowboys and Aliens. Kurtzman has said that the reboot will be ‘grounded in reality’ and has high aims as he wants to ‘do for Van Helsing what [Christopher] Nolan has done for Batman’. The other piece of exciting news surrounding this project is who is attached to star as the title character: Tom Cruise. His career seems to have had its own little reboot in the last couple of years and he is being lined up to appear in everything, not that I’m complaining, I think he is a great person to watch and has a fantastic on screen persona. Van Helsing has no set release date yet with Cruise’s hectic schedule but a release of 2014/15 may be realistic.

 

Next up, Bourne! The Bourne trilogy is one of my favourites of all time, I think Matt Damon’s portrayal of super spy Jason Bourne is a character to rival any other and the storyline, the directing and the supporting cast are all fantastic. So when I heard that Damon and director Paul Greengrass would not be returning for fourth film The Bourne Legacy I was understandably disappointed. Then my disappointment faded with the announcement of Jeremy Renner becoming the lead role and playing Aaron Cross in what has been dubbed a ‘paraquel’ (the events take place simultaneously with the original Bourne trilogy). Frank Marshall, the producer of The Bourne Legacy has now said that it is his ‘dream’ to see Matt and Jeremy team up in the fifth installment. Of course, this is just a dream at the minute and Damon has fierce loyalty to director Greengrass and recently had a falling out with writer and new director Tony Gilroy but money talks and a huge payday for Damon could be in line if he was to return to the franchise which would be incredible!

Here is the incredible trailer for Renner’s The Bourne Legacy

And finally…

 

Marvel are riding high on the waves of success at the minute and a few months ago announced the line up for their next few films. among the regulars of Iron Man 3, Thor 2, Captain America 2 there were a couple of surprises with Marvel announcing two secret films. Immediately there was speculation that the 2014 secret movie would be a Black Panther origin story. Black Panther is one of my favourite characters in the Marvel universe and really does deserve a film and in the past week or so there has been no shortage of actors saying that they would love to be a part of the film. Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker, Abraham Lincoln:Vampire Hunter) said that he hoped to be a part of The Incredible Hulk but wasn’t and would sign on to Black Panther today; Brian J. White (Cabin in the Woods, Brick) has also said he would love to work with Marvel when he was linked with the role but I don’t think that he looks the part so I would count him out straight away; Aldis Hodge (Leverage) seems to be the current fan favourite out of people who have confirmed their interest in the role and just by looking at him you have to say that he does seem to be the perfect fit. I would still hope that Djimon Hounsou got the part but maybe Marvel will go for a lesser known and cheaper actor for the part.

(left to right) Fan favourite Aldis Hodge; Marvel superhero Black Panther; my pick Djimon Hounsou.