Wednesday, 30 October 2013

"Pull yourself together, man. You sound like a balloon."

Paramount Studios have just released their latest one sheet and two brand new trailers for Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, with Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) and his team of eccentric news types bringing their "salon-quality hair" roaring into the 80's.

Whether or not anything from these promos will actually end up in the film remains to be seen. Thanks to director Adam McKay's (Eastbound & Down) improvisational take on comedy, writing certain sections of the script with Will Ferrell but always leaving room for the performers to riff their hearts out on set, the film is always a little in flux. Remember, these are the guys who made an entire movie, Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie, purely from offcuts from the first film.

It's also reassuring to see certain gags from the original, such as Brian Fantana's (Paul Rudd) secret stash of gentleman's products, along with entirely new conceits, like Brick Lamland’s (Steve Carell) green screen meltdown.

This time around, which arrives more than nine years after the release of 2004's Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy, sees Will Ferrell's mustachioed Lothario and the news team transferring to a new 24-hour news channel in the Big Apple.

Fans of the original will be pleased to note that joining birdbrained weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) and fashion obsessed field reporter Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), are chauvinistic sportscaster Champ Kind (David Koechner) and Christina Applegate back as fellow news presenter Veronica Corningstone. This time around, however, Burgundy seems to be more interested in "romancing" a new colleague, played by Meagan Good (Stomp The Yard, Californication). During a dinner at her home, it appears that his comprehension of racial politics is even more primitive than his understanding of feminism proved back in sunny San Diego.

As Adam McKay told Empire last year, there's plenty here on Burgundy and the boys butting heads with multi-cultural newscasters. "We know these guys never deal well with change," says McKay, "and the good thing is that there's a big blast of change coming, according to the regular time line. We're going to be throwing a lot of innovation at them, and they're not going to handle it well."

"It's right when all the news started changing with the 24-hours news cycle in '78 or '79," McKay explains. "All of a sudden, local news stations diversified and had Latino anchors and African-American anchors, and any time you're talking about diversity and the Action News team, that's always fun to deal with."

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues also features the return of Vince Vaughn, Luke Wilson and Greg Kinnear, while there are said to be cameos from Harrison Ford, Nicole Kidman, Sacha Baron Cohen and Jim Carrey, among others. The new trailer also features James Marsden (Enchanted, Robot & Frank), as a younger rival anchorman and a bubble permed Kristen Wiig (Paul, Bridesmaids), as potential love interest for Carell's Tamland.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues will hit UK cinemas on 20 December.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

"Obviously you don't know the first rule of the Outback hero, you never ever stop."

After years in development hell, Wolf Creek 2, Greg Mclean's sequel to his infamous 2005 original, finally went before the cameras earlier this year. John Jarratt is back as the cackling Outback serial killer Mick Taylor, and following the film's auspicious debut at this years Venice Film Festival, we now have our first proper trailer, reminding us that in life, it's not what path you choose, it's whose path you cross...

Wolf Creek saw a group of backpackers falling foul of Jarratt's horribly matey nutcase, but if that set-up seems generic, the film itself cleverly played with audience expectations. It knew what you thought was going to happen, and always did something else. Talk immediately turned to a sequel when Wolf Creek became Australia's biggest hit of 2005, and its biggest adult-rated movie of all time. Mclean felt he'd cracked a workable screenplay by 2010, but it's taken this long to get the thing up and running.

Wolf Creek 2 sets up yet another group of unwitting young travellers, but the response from those who've seen it suggests a slightly bigger scale this time round. We're out of the Outback and onto the highway, with at least one major sequence that's drawing comparisons to Steven Spielberg's Duel (1971). There are chunks of that in the clip, including what looks like the punchline to the whole sequence. Hopefully it's not too much of a spoiler.

Mick's also as chatty as ever, although he seems to have picked up a nationalist doctrine that we don't remember from first time out. There's still the matey advice and homespun wisdom among the ranting though and of course, there's that inimitable laugh.

Jarratt's co-stars (or should that be victims) include Ryan Corr and Shannon Aslyn. Wolf Creek 2 is out in Australia and Italy in February, with the rest of the world still awaiting its release dates.

First image from Stephen Frears' Lance Armstrong film arrives online

Filming may have only began on 18 October for Stephen Frears' (The Queen) Lance Armstrong film, but already StudioCanal has released their first image from the as yet untitled biopic.

Unsurprisingly, they're focused on the man himself, with Ben Foster (3:10 To Yuma) in the iconic yellow Tour leader jersey and custom Trek as Armstrong, the man who came back from cancer to win the Tour de France seven consecutive times, only to be stripped of those titles for his doping offences.

Chris O'Dowd (Bridesmaids) plays the Irish sports journalist David Walsh, who was raising questions about Armstrong's performance long before the rest of the world began to follow suit. Jesse Plemons, of Friday Night Lights and Breaking Bad fame, and Guillaume Canet (Tell No One) will also appear. Our guess is that Plemons will play one of Armstrong's US Postal Service teammates and Canet a French rival. Admittedly blatant national stereotyping as their roles remain to be confirmed.

John Hodge, best known for his work with Danny Boyle, wrote the screenplay, and shooting should continue for the next few months well into the early spring.

In the meantime, if you need a fix of cycling scandal, keep your eyes peeled for a documentary into the affair with Alex Gibney's The Armstrong Lie, recently screened at the London Film Festival and due out here on 31 January.

"What they did to me, what I am, can't be undone."

In a summer seemingly packed with movies that work their way up to levelling entire cities, The Wolverine takes an altogether different tack by shifting the annihilation to it's opening. Within the first three minutes, Nagasaki has been obliterated in a mushroom cloud of fire and dust, courtesy of a B-29 bomber and the nuclear bomb known as Fat Man that effectively signalled the end of World War II.

In the midst of the mayhem, we find Hugh Jackman's Logan – a.k.a. The Wolverine – chained up and contractually shirtless in the middle of a POW camp. As sirens blare and Japanese officers commit Hara-kiri with honour, Logan is first saved by, and then saves, an officer with a stricken conscience.

It's an audacious opening that some might find in dubious taste, but there are enough grace notes here – the opening shot of the B-29 approaching its target is serenely beautiful – to suggest this will be light years ahead of the lamentable X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009). And so it proves, even if it never hits the heights of the first two X-Men movies or X-Men: First Class (2011).

After that grand opening, things scale back as we meet the Canadian mutant living rough on his home turf as, effectively, a grizzly X-Man plagued by visions of his lost love, Jean Grey (Famke Janssen, lounging in a négligée through protracted dream sequences) and as haunted by the events of X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) as anyone who saw it. He's a wounded bear who even encounters an actual wounded bear, just to pound home that particular metaphor. Logan has vowed never to hurt anyone again, a vow he breaks within 40 seconds, but before he can kill some plaid clad idiots in a bar, he's tracked down by the slinky Yukio (Rila Fukushima), a flame haired employee of the man he saved in World War II, and brought to Japan, where he becomes embroiled in a convoluted plot involving the yakuza, indestructible samurai and a new lady love in the form of beautiful Mariko (Tao Okamoto) who, in a nice twist, sees Logan and his claws as something to love, not fear.

And it's in its Japanese roots that The Wolverine becomes most intriguing. Canadian section aside, the film takes place entirely in Japan. That alone is enough to make it look and feel unlike any other superhero movie to date, director James Mangold (3:10 To Yuma) capturing a real sense of the place as he frames Logan against the neon lit streets of Tokyo or the lush backdrop of rural ryokans.

Sadly, the embrace of Japanese culture often feels skin-deep, a superficial whisk through a checklist of clichés. There's the awkward visit to a love hotel with Mariko as they go on the run; Logan struggling to come to grips with chopsticks like a gaijin fool; not to mention being constantly referred to as a ronin, a samurai without a master. Yet there's no sense his experiences have much of an impact – by the end he's as authentically Japanese as YO! Sushi. Just a shame he doesn't show up at a karaoke bar.

One of the many criticisms of Wolverine's last solo outing was that it never had the courage to trust in the appeal of its lead character, instead chucking in large numbers of pointless mutants. The lesson has been learned here, with a more scant mutant offering (Svetlana Khodchenkova shows up as the venom spitting vixen Viper). Instead, Logan bloodlessly slices his way through armies of yakuza and ninjas, in keeping with the films ambitiously 'realistic' tone.

It's all the better for it, from a free-for-all that puts the fun in funeral to the movie's highpoint, a creative showdown on top of a speeding Shinkansen. And, if you have any qualms about pitting a highly trained, invulnerable mutant against scores of rent-a-piñata henchmen, Mangold and Jackman level the playing field slightly by depriving Logan of his powers. With his healing factor and animalistic senses on hold, Logan develops an aversion to shotgun blasts that slows him down considerably, and gives Jackman something interesting to play with sixth time around. That element is far more absorbing than his endless moping after Jean.

Whilst certainly an improvement on the last outing for Jackman's Wolverine, it's regrettable that in a film concerned with immortality, nothing lasts forever. The final showdown, tonally and in terms of scale, is deeply unsatisfying, with ludicrous reveals and a plot turn so convoluted it threatens to derail the movie entirely. Much like the Wolverine himself then, this is a film that marches to its own drum, and while it may divide the non-fans from the faithful, the latter will applaud its efforts to deepen and champion their hirsute hero.

"To build a better world, sometimes means tearing the old one down... and that makes enemies."

Marvel have just released their latest trailer and one sheet for Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The Avengers leader is back and this time he's caught between his conscience and his duty, as S.H.I.E.L.D. and big cheese Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford) try to find a role for their super soldier.

Turning down dates set up by Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow and jumping out of planes without a parachute, Chris Evans' Steve Rogers is still living dangerously. But that will be all to the good as the story gets darker, with Rogers soon doubting S.H.I.E.L.D's leadership and facing new threats from the titular Winter Soldier, who in a heartbreaking twist sees his supposedly dead friend Bucky (Sebastian Stan) cybernetically augmented, brainwashed and turned into a lethal assassin. Luckily though he has Anthony Mackie's Falcon, who looks to be on his side.

With plenty of car crashes, explosions and the Helicarrier crashing out of the sky to really put things in perspective, this looks to not only deliver on the action quotient, but also deliver the 1970s style paranoia thriller we've been promised.

Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo (Community), with Samuel L. Jackson (Django Unchained), Emily VanCamp (Carriers), Cobie Smulders (Safe Haven) and Frank Grillo (Zero Dark Thirty) rounding out the cast, Captain America: The Winter Soldier hits UK cinemas on 26 March 2014.

First Non-Stop trailer flies in

Universal Pictures have just released their first trailer and one sheet for Liam Neeson's latest actioner, Non-Stop.

One of these days, people will learn that contacting Liam Neeson out of the blue and making threats really doesn't end well for anyone.

Directed by Unknown's (2011) Jaume Collet-Serra, Non-Stop finds Neeson as Air Marshall Bill Marks, who is working on a flight between New York and London. What seems to be a routine flight – and a chance to meet and chat with the lovely Jen Summers (Julianne Moore) – soon takes a turn for the dangerous when he gets a text message on a secure network from someone threatening to kill a passenger every 20 minutes, unless money is transferred into a specific account.

It's not the in flight entertainment that's to blame: there's a hijacker on board, and he or she is soon framing our hero for the murders and the money. Can Bill find out what’s really going on before the authorities decide to shoot the plane down. Which seems a bit extreme, but certainly not outside the realms of possibility.

With Scoot McNairy (Argo), Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey), Anson Mount (Straw Dogs), Corey Stoll (The Bourne Legacy) and Bar Paly (The Ruins) among the cast, Non-Stop is set to land here on 28 February.

"Take your hands off my lobby boy!"

Fox Searchlight have just released their first trailer and one sheet for The Grand Budapest Hotel. Welcome then to the most Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom) film ever. Let's check off the trademarks: we have a hyper saturated colour palette, characters positioned dead centre of the frame, gorgeous stylised environments, blandly outrageous statements, great humour, odd hairstyles and a sense of borderline farce. Not forgetting Bill Murray of course.

This trailer makes it clear that the story revolves around Ralph Fiennes' Gustave H, hotel manager and serial guest lover. His problems begin when a deceased client of a certain age (Tilda Swinton) turns up dead in the hotel and leaves him a valuable painting in her will – much to the distress of Adrien Brody's Dmitri.

Many Anderson regulars return, including good luck charm Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, Edward Norton, Owen Wilson, Jeff Goldblum and Jason Schwartzman. Also joining the cast are Saoirse Ronan, F. Murray Abraham, Jude Law, Harvey Keitel, Tom Wilkinson, Lea Seydoux and Mathieu Amalric.

With what looks like a great comic turn from Fiennes as the somewhat fussy, conceited hotel manager, we're frankly pretty impressed by this one.

Although there's no confirmed date just yet, The Grand Budapest Hotel should hit cinemas early next year.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

New international trailer for Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit arrives online

With just over two months before the release of Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, the marketing campaign is ratcheting up another gear or six. The first teaser touched down a couple of weeks ago and now we have the first international promo.

Shadow Recruit, directed by and co-starring Kenneth Branagh, is a reboot of Ryan's origin story that sees Pine inheriting the mantle from Alec Baldwin (The Hunt For Red October), Harrison Ford (Patriot Games and Clear And Present Danger) and Ben Affleck (The Sum Of All Fears).

In this one, despite his relative youth, Jack Ryan is an established CIA covert analyst who discovers a sneaky Russian plot (by Branagh’s Viktor Cherevin) to crash the U.S. economy. Naturally, stopping the evil plan won't happen by sitting behind a desk watching the stock market figures.

Add to the mix his mentor, William Harper (Kevin Costner) trying to help him stay alive, and his relationship with wife Cathy (Keira Knightley) and you've got the makings of a full on Ryan cocktail.

Pleasingly, this new trailer puts Knightley's Cathy Ryan in a much more positive light. Instead of the concerned wife cliche, here she's much more his equal, at one point helping out on the mission.

There are still shades of Martin Campbell and Daniel Craig's first take on Bond here, which hopefully is a world that Ryan can play well in. And while the new trailer borrows a fair chunk of its footage from the first teaser, there's certainly enough fresh material here to make it well worth a watch.

With David Paymer (Drag Me To Hell), Colm Feore (Thor) and Nonso Anozie (The Grey) among the cast, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is out in the UK on 26 December.

"You can die for your country... I'm going to live for mine!"

Lone Survivor is one of those passion projects that directors just can't let go of. Director Peter Berg has been trying to get the tragic true life tale of a Navy SEAL mission gone horribly wrong on camera for over five years. Now he's finally achieved it and the latest trailer has arrived online.

The film tells the harrowing true story of the four members of SEAL Team 10 – Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg), Mike Murphy (Taylor Kitsch), Danny Dietz (Emile Hirsch) and Matt Axelson (Ben Foster) – who, on 28 June 2005, were assigned to carry out Operation Red Wings.

Luttrell's team headed out to hunt down infamous Taliban leader Ahmad Shah along the Afghanistan/Pakistan border. When they arrived, they discovered that he had a heavily armed force protecting him, but that was just the start of their problems. Their mission was compromised and three of the four men never returned home.

It's certainly not going to be an easy film to watch, and it appears Berg is going for gritty realism here. He's also recruited himself a solid cast, with Eric Bana, Alexander Ludwig, Jerry Ferrara and Yousuf Azami also on board.

Lone Survivor is out here on 21 February next year.

"I will survive! I will not fall into despair!"

Steve McQueen's (Shame) latest project, 12 Years A Slave, seems almost certain to get some awards attention after it's successful critical launch at this years Telluride Film Festival. While we'll have to wait until January to see it in the UK, we do at least have a new trailer to enjoy.

McQueen is certainly not a man to shy away from difficult subjects. Based on a painful true story, 12 Years A Slave follows Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), born free in upstate New York and working as a talented musician, who is abducted and sold into slavery.

As he's carted between different masters (including Benedict Cumberbatch as the lenient William Ford and McQueen regular Michael Fassbender as the cruel Edwin Epps), Solomon tries to stay strong, hoping that he can find someone to help him win his freedom back. Eventually, he meets Canadian abolitionist Bass (Brad Pitt), and things start to change.

That's just the tip of the casting iceberg, with an outstanding cast that also boasts Paul Giamatti (Sideways), Alfre Woodard (True Blood), Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts Of The Southern Wild), Garret Dillahunt (Killing Them Softly), Sarah Paulson (Mud), Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood), Scoot McNairy (Argo) and Michael Kenneth Williams (Boardwalk Empire) among others, this will definitely be one to look out for.

12 Years A Slave will hit UK cinemas on 24 January next year.

Naughty new Nymphomaniac one sheets arrive online

Lars von Trier certainly knows how to attract the attention of the media. As his latest cinematic grenade arcs gently towards the big screen, pin pulled and fuse lit, the marketing campaign has delivered a consignment of one sheets for his forthcoming movie Nymphomaniac, featuring a number of his A list stars lost in the heat of the moment.

Nymphomaniac chronicles the erotic journey of self-diagnosed sex addict Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) from birth until the age of 50. The movie will jump around in time and cover a large number of characters along the way. Appearing alongside Gainsbourg are Shia LaBeouf, Jamie Bell, Uma Thurman, Udo Kier, Sophie Kennedy Clark, Willem Dafoe, Stellan Skarsgård, Mia Goth, Christian Slater, Nicolas Bros and Connie Nielsen, all of whom feature in the somewhat fruity campaign.

Whilst advertising that uses mid-coitus facial expressions has been done before (Frank Budgen shot a series of ads for Coco de Mer featuring ordinary folks on the brink of climax back in 2001, and Trojan also worked the style in 2004. And before any of those, came (sorry) Aura Rosenberg's book Headshots in 1996), there is something about seeing the expressions of famous stars in the throes that really makes these posters stand out.

With film companies using increasingly elaborate pranks as a way of promoting their latest movies, it's great to see that a brilliantly executed poster campaign can still do the job.

Nymphomaniac will arrive in Danish cinemas on 25 December and should get a UK release early in 2014.

Two new posters arrive online for The Double

Richard Ayoade is following up his critically acclaimed debut, Submarine (2010), with something altogether different: a fresh take on Fyodor Dostoyevsky's novella The Double, with Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network) playing both the lead and his doppelganger, plus Mia Wasikowska (Alice In Wonderland) as his/their unrequited love.

Taking inspiration from the original text, rather than slavishly following it to the letter, Ayoade's interpretation is far easier to enjoy than Dostoyevsky's essay on madness and human decency. There are even a few curious cameos to enjoy along the way. Look out for fellow IT Crowd pleaser Chris O'Dowd, for example, as well as Paddy Considine in a role that promises to be a standout turn.

Without revealing too much, the plot centres on Eisenberg's shy and lonely Simon James and his much more vivacious and charming human facsimile, James Simon, as the former tries to drum up the courage to charm his co-worker Hannah and the latter steals her away from under his nose. 

With no official date announced just yet, The Double is set for general release in spring 2014.

Monday, 21 October 2013

"How can I help you steal our stolen art?"

Twentieth Century Fox and Sony Pictures have just released their latest trailer for The Monuments Men, and like the character he plays in the film, George Clooney (The Ides Of March) has gathered a stellar team of experts for his latest directorial outing.

Set during World War II, the film finds an unlikely squad of recruits, culled from museums, galleries and universities, who were tasked with braving the front lines of combat and stopping priceless works of art, architecture and other artifacts from being stolen or destroyed as the Third Reich fell.

Not only did they have to go up against the Nazis, but they also had to try to convince the Allied troops not to attack certain buildings: no easy task for a team of volunteers including art historians and curators. The cast includes Matt Damon (The Adjustment Bureau), Cate Blanchett (The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button), Bill Murray (Hyde Park On Hudson), John Goodman (Argo), Jean Dujardin (The Artist), Bob Balaban (Girl Most Likely) and Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey).

Adapted by Clooney and regular producing partner Grant Heslov from Robert Edsel's book, The Monuments Men will be in our cinemas on 9 January.

Roger Ebert & Russ Meyer film planned

While David O Russell's biopic of Russ Meyer has yet to burst out of development hell, there's now another project involving the smut auteur in the works. Sobini Films, Permut Presentations and Chautauqua Entertainment have come together for Russ & Roger Go Beyond, charting Meyer's unlikely collaboration with the late, great Roger Ebert on Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls (1970).

Meyer had started his film career shooting newsreel footage during WWII, and in peacetime began to find success as a glamour photographer during Playboy's early years. In the early 1960s he started filming soft porn 'nudie cuties', before hitting on his own niche of weirdly violent live action cartoons, full of large breasted, aggressively dominant women, and spineless quivering men. Once publicly accused of being "nothing but a tit man", he retorted, "That's only the half of it."

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965) was the film that put Meyer on the map, followed by such equally scandalous classics as Vixen! (1968), Supervixens! (1975) and Up! (1976) It would certainly appear he liked exclamation marks almost as much as he liked boobs. He wrote, produced, directed, and self-financed most of his films, and retained all the rights, dying a rich man in 2004. His headstone reads "King of the nudies. I was glad to do it."

Ebert was an admirer from the start. "Russ had a very healthy, go-ahead, unapologetic way of celebrating the female form," he told Meyer biographer Jimmy McDonough. "I found him to be one of the most fascinating men I ever met. He was smart, funny, extroverted, robust, no bullshit." The pair apparently shared a sense of humour, and a love of movies and food. Plus, said Meyer, "Ebert has that wonderful sickness about him: Bosomania. He's truly a Jekyll and Hyde: we've got to make that clear. He's more debauched than I!"

Having decided to work together on the film Meyer would eventually regard as his masterpiece, they hammered out a treatment in three days, a first draft in three weeks, and the finished screenplay in six. Ebert proudly called Beyond "a camp sexploitation horror musical that ends in quadruple ritual murder and a triple wedding". He went on to contribute, uncredited, to further Meyer projects, but always denied Meyer's claim that he demanded "a girl at the end of every week" as part of his payment. "I did not," he said. "Nor, for that matter, did I get one."

Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls was, uniquely for Meyer, a studio picture for Fox, leading to several colourful production battles, not least over its MPAA rating. Russ & Roger Go Beyond then, has the potential to be not only a hugely entertaining making of yarn, but also a document of a beautiful friendship. The script is being developed by Simpsons and Saturday Night Live scribe Christopher Cluess, but there's no director or start date as yet.

- Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965)

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Harrison Ford talks Blade Runner sequel

With all the recent Star Wars shenanigans, Ridley Scott's Blade Runner follow up has been pushed to one side in the news coverage stakes. Kudos to IGN then, for asking Harrison Ford about Rick Deckard rather than Han Solo, when they caught him on the Ender's Game publicity trail. So is he interested in reteaming with Ridley? "We've been chatting about it," he reveals.

Ford's involvement (or non-involvement) has been the subject of much speculation since the project was revealed back in August 2011. Andrew Kosove, of production company Alcon Entertainment, was initially quoted as saying there was practically no chance of Ford showing up ("I think it is quite unlikely").

A few months later, however, a mischievous Scott suggested that, while Deckard isn't intended as the central character of the film, "It would be amusing to have him it somewhere". A few months later, Scott was musing about how Deckard having aged might be explained away in the film. "He was a Nexus 6, so we don't know how long he can live," he chuckled. Since Ford was never an adherent of the 'Deckard's a replicant' school of thought, you might think that would be a sticking point.

The assumption about Ford's reluctance to attend, however, has always been based on his much publicised ambivalence towards the original, and his fractious on-set relationship with Scott. His appearance on the lengthy Final Cut DVD documentary suggested that those wounds have healed though, and he now tells IGN: "I remember it with complication, but I'm not there to generate nostalgic moments, I'm there to do a job of work. I quite understand that everybody has an ambition when they come and do a film, and everyone's ambition may not be focused on the same thing. I truly admire Ridley as a man and as a director, and I would be very happy to engage with him again in the further telling of this story."

As for the infamous voice over, excised from all versions subsequent to the Theatrical Cut, Ford, of course, says, "That was a big part of the issue. I don't think it was necessary... and Ridley didn't think it was necessary. That was something that came up from the studio." So if the new film required narration? "I'm now capable of losing my voice: cutting out my tonsils and my vocal chords!"

Either way, the Blade Runner sequel is a long way off yet. Last we heard, Michael Green (Green Lantern) was at work on the screenplay, following an initial draft by original Blade Runner scribe Hampton Fancher. As always, watch this space for developments.

"I'm not afraid of you!"

Universal Pictures have just released their latest trailer for their long delayed samurai film, 47 Ronin.

One things for sure, 47 Ronin is certainly not your usual Jidaigeki flick. Based on a true Japanese story, albeit with plenty of mystical cinematic embellishment, 47 Ronin finds a group of warriors in disarray.

After a treacherous warlord kills their master and banishes their kind, 47 leaderless samurai vow to seek vengeance and restore honour to their people. Driven from their homes and dispersed across the land, this band of Ronin must seek the help of Kai (Keanu Reeves), a half Japanese/half British warrior they once rejected, as they fight their way across a savage world of mythical beasts and shape shifting witches. One of which is the mesmerising and hot right now Rinko Kikuchi (Pacific Rim).

As this exiled, enslaved outcast becomes their most deadly weapon, he will transform into the hero who inspires the band of outnumbered rebels to seize eternity.

47 Ronin is helmed by visionary director Carl Erik Rinsch (The Gift) and co-stars Hiroyuki Sanada (The Wolverine), Kô Shibasaki (Memories Of Matsuko) and Tadanobu Asano (Thor).

47 Ronin will be out on 26 December.

First trailer arrives online for I, Frankenstein

The first trailer has arrived online for I, Frankenstein, in which Aaron Eckhart (Battle Los Angeles) stars as the reimagined creation of Dr Frankenstein.

Hollywood never seems to tire of taking Mary Shelley's Gothic tale and adapting it for contemporary audiences. Through a filter of social commentary and medical advances, redressed and reinvented, Frankenstein's creature has been pushed, blinking, out into the projector's unforgiving glare for almost 100 years.

With several versions of the story making their way to the big screen, each has to find its own way to stand out. So then to I, Frankenstein that channels the story through the neon blue filter of Len Wiseman's Underworld series.

Stuart Beattie adapts and directs this tale of Adam (Aaron Eckhart), Frankenstein's creation, who has achieved immortality and is now the focus for a war between powerful supernatural creatures. The evil side (led by Bill Nighy) wants to harness his abilities to create an army to destroy the human race. Whereas Miranda Otto's forces are trying to save us – but at what cost to Adam?

Caught in the middle is Terra (Yvonne Stahovski), a scientist who helps Adam and, as seems standard in this kind of fare, might just have feelings for him. It's tough to judge from the trailer, but so far I, Frankenstein offers a hint of generic good versus evil mayhem with CG creatures aplenty.

Can this rise above the predictable genre levels of late? We'll find out on 24 January.

"Have you done anything noteworthy or mentionable?"

After impressing the crowds at this years Cinema Con, 20th Century Fox is keeping the marketing train going for Ben Stiller's latest passion project, The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, with this latest series of one sheets and new trailer.

A remake of the classic 1947 film (itself an adaption of a short story by James Thurber), the story sees Stiller play bored office worker Walter Mitty, who spends his days creating elaborate fantasy worlds for himself in which he gets to live a life of adventure while romancing co-worker Kristen Wiig.

However, when both their jobs are threatened in the real world, Walter finally shakes off his lethargy and sets off on a global journey to introduce some genuine excitement into his life.

The trailer gives us our first look at Sean Penn (Milk), Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids) and Adam Scott (Step Brothers) as Stiller's support, whilst delivering a flavour of the film's soaring tone.

The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty received a mixed reaction at the New York Film Festival earlier this month, but we'll get a chance to see for ourselves when it lands in the UK on 26 December.

"It is undoubtedly a trap..."

By now most of you have undoubtedly seen the latest trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug. If not, you can find it here. But if you’re in the mood for more bite sized chunks of trailer footage with additional nuggets of dwarven gold, you’ll be glad to know there are two new TV spots online offering just that.

Following on from where we left Bilbo, the dwarves and Gandalf, as they continue their journey to the Lonely Mountain, where Thorin (Richard Armitage) and the rest seek to reclaim their homeland from the troublesome squatter, Smaug the dragon (Benedict Cumberbatch).

The fun here is encountering new and old friends – such as Evangeline Lilly (Real Steel) as warrior elf Tauriel, Lee Pace's (Lincoln) Elvenking Thranduil and Orlando Bloom returning as the ever athletic Legolas.

With the likes of Aidan Turner, Billy Connolly, Graham McTavish, Dean O’Gorman, Luke Evans, Mikael Persbrandt, Conan Stevens and Stephen Fry rounding out the cast, The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug is out on 13 December.

Final character one sheets for Thor: The Dark World blast online

With just a matter of weeks before Thor: The Dark World hits our screens, two of its biggest stars, Fandral (Zachary Levi ) and Volstagg (Ray Stevenson), finally get their moment in the sun with their very own character one sheets.

Marvel had previously released character one sheets for the other member of the Warriors Three, Sif (Jaimie Alexander), along with the favourite son of Asgard Thor himself, human lady love Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and Dark Elf Malekith (Christopher Eccleston).

With Fandral and Volstagg absent from the initial marketing blitz, the wrath of the Thor crazed fan base ensured that Marvel soon saw fit to bring those characters back into the marketing arena.

Set one year after Avengers, Chris Hemsworth's Thor is back on Earth to defend us all against the deadly forces of Malkeith (Christopher Eccleston), leader of an ancient race known as the Dark Elves of Svartalfheim. We also see our hammered hero finally reunited with astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), not to mention paying a visit to his disgraced brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) for a helping hand.

Thor: The Dark World also stars Idris Elba (American Gangster, Prometheus), Anthony Hopkins (Hitchcock), Stellan Skarsgård (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo), Ray Stevenson (The Three Musketeers), Zachary Levi (Chuck), Jaime Alexander (The Last Stand), Kat Dennings (2 Broke Girls), Rene Russo (The Thomas Crown Affair), Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (The Thing) and Tadanobu Asano (Battleship).

Thor: The Dark World will be in cinemas on 30 October.

Hair raising American Hustle character one sheets arrive online

We've know since the first trailer emerged last month that the film features some truly shocking vintage '80s getup. Now Columbia Pictures have just released their latest character one sheets for David O. Russell’s (Silver Linings Playbook) American Hustle, giving us a better look at the characters and their spectacular hair.

A loosely truth-based tale of an FBI sting operation that took down some high-profile US government types, American Hustle was originally called American Bullshit when it was at number eight on 2010's Black List list of the best unproduced screenplays.

The film finds Christian Bale as Irving Rosenfeld, a Bronx-raised con man who raises the suspicion of driven FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper).

Under threat of prison, DiMaso forces Rosenfeld and his lover/accomplice Sydney (Amy Adams) to work up the Abscam sting, which saw a US senator and five congressmen convicted on corruption charges. "That era was very much like our era now," says Russell. "The economy was not in a good place and people had to struggle to figure out how to reinvent themselves."

American Hustle will arrive in US cinemas on 25 December before hopping across the pond to launch here on Boxing Day.

Christian Bale seeks justice in Out Of The Furnace trailer

Relativity Media have just released their latest trailer for Scott Cooper's (Crazy Heart) new gripping and gritty drama, Out Of The Furnace.

We meet Christian Bale's steel mill worker, Russell Baze, as a man with a rough life: working his dead-end blue collar job by day to provide for his girlfriend Lena (Zoe Saldana), and caring for his terminally ill father (Sam Sheppard) by night.

When his brother Rodney (Casey Affleck) returns home from serving time in Iraq, he gets lured into one of the most ruthless crime rings in the Northeast and mysteriously disappears. The police, including Forest Whitaker, fail to crack the case, so with nothing left to lose Russell takes matters into his own hands, putting his life on the line to seek justice for his brother against gang thug Curtis DeGroat (Woody Harrelson).

With an impressive cast and Cooper certainly capturing a great sense of mood, hopefully Out Of The Furnace will live up to expectations when it arrives here on 31 January.

"You not just an analyst any more Jack... you're operational now."

Paramount Studios have released their first trailer and one sheet for Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.

As if to respectfully mark the death of his creator, Jack Ryan's pensive face adorns the first one sheet for his espionage origins outing. Tom Clancy may have passed away but his famous CIA analyst, a former naval office who battles drug barons, rogue Republicans and Sean Connery's Lithuanian accent in his many screen incarnations, lives on in a reboot that hands the Langley security pass to Chris Pine (Star Trek).

Shadow Recruit, directed by and co-starring Kenneth Branagh, is a reboot of Ryan's origin story that sees Pine inheriting the mantle from Alec Baldwin (The Hunt For Red October), Harrison Ford (Patriot Games and Clear And Present Danger) and Ben Affleck (The Sum Of All Fears).

In this one, despite his relative youth, Jack Ryan is an established CIA covert analyst who discovers a sneaky Russian plot (by Branagh's Viktor Cherevin) to crash the U.S. economy. Naturally, stopping the evil plan won't happen by sitting behind a desk watching the stock market figures.

Add to the mix his mentor, William Harper (Kevin Costner) trying to help him stay alive, and his relationship with wife Cathy (Keira Knightley) and you've got the makings of a full on Ryan cocktail. From the looks of this first promo, Branagh and his team (including writer Adam Cozad tackling Tom Clancy's most famous character) are clearly looking to the likes of Bourne and the modern Bond for this one.

With David Paymer (Drag Me To Hell), Colm Feore (Thor) and Nonso Anozie (The Grey) among the cast, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is out in the UK on 26 December.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Edgar Wright kicks off Ant-Man pre-production

Edgar Wright is man not to rest on his laurels. Whilst he may not be as prolific as, say, Ben Wheatley (Kill List) or David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express) have been recently, Wright has only taken a scant months break between a busy press tour for The World's End before heading to Los Angeles to start pre-production work on Ant-Man for Marvel.

As the tweet above shows, Wright is filling up on espresso to begin the long slog of bringing the script he wrote with Joe Cornish (Attack The Block) to the big screen.

With regards to the picture, we doubt it's actually from the current production: it's much more likely that this is from the test footage he used to wow fans at last years Comic Con in San Diego.

We're excited to see Wright's kinetic style matched to the size shifting, genius superhero Henry 'Hank' Pym, and the fact that the project is moving forward means we may soon learn who will play the title role. Whilst there has been no official announcement yet, Variety reports that Paul Rudd and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are top of the list as contenders. If true, both seem like fair shouts for the role, able to portray the cockiness and smarts that Hank Pym brings to the superhero world.

Ant-Man's release date recently shifted from late 2015 to a spot in the crowded summer of that year, so it's hardly a surprise that Wright is throwing himself into work on the movie. As always, watch this space for updates.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Disney developing live action Cruella de Vil film

It looks as though Maleficent has swung the doors of Disney open for her sinister sisterhood. With the Mouse House set to release the new take on Sleeping Beauty's misunderstood antagonist next year, the company is now developing a fresh story around 101 Dalmatians' fur fetish fashionista Cruella de Vil. 

Aline Brosh McKenna, who has recently worked on the script for Disney's live action Cinderella (which Kenneth Branagh is currently shooting in London), has been handed the gig of bringing de Vil back to life for the new film. Could this do a Maleficent and turn her into a hero, saving the world from a pack of rapid dalmatians?

The Hollywood Reporter was unable to dig up any plot details, so we don't know if this will be another story that digs into the character's life, trying to find some explanation as to why she craves animal hides for fashion and what her beef is with little critters keeping their coats. Surely this is one villain who can't be completely rehabilitated. She does target puppies after all - and who doesn't love puppies?

Originating in the 1956 Dodie Smith novel that became Disney's 1961 cartoon adaption, Cruella has been seen in live action twice already, portrayed by Glenn Close in 101 Dalmatians (1996) and the follow-up 102 Dalmatians (2000). Close is already connected to this one, but only as executive producer so far. It therefore seems unlikely that she'll slip back into Cruella's mad hair and stylish, if somewhat cruel, clothing.

As for Maleficent? She will be hitting our screens on 30 May next year.