Saturday, 30 November 2013

R2-D2 confirmed for Star Wars: Episode VII

Last week we got our first image from behind the scenes of Star Wars: Episode VII via the Bad Robot Twitter feed. The picture featured writer / director / producer J.J. Abrams, producer and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, noted Astromech droid R2-D2 and two gentlemen who were not immediately identifiable. Now, thanks to the official Star Wars site, we've learned that Artoo will definitely be back in the new film and how he has those two men – Lee Towersey and Oliver Steeples – to thank for it.

Towersey and Steeples are members of the R2-D2 Builders Club, a worldwide organisation of Astromech engineering enthusiasts. A chance meeting with Kennedy at this year's Celebration Europe event in Germany led to a job working as part of the Creature Effects team for Episode VII.

They'll be responsible for building and maintaining the physical Artoo units seen on film, and are all to aware of the challenge ahead. "We know the pressures of filming, prepping, and being able to assure reliability throughout the shoot," says Towersey, who built the droid seen in the tweet. "We have a good knowledge of Artoo, with a large stock of parts for reference and drawings, plus we know what is involved throughout the whole building process, as well as potential problems we need to avoid."

Their biggest challenge? Building a better version of the beloved tin can. "What we do need to do is improve on the mechanics," says Towersey. "We're currently in a research and design phase where we're looking at drive options for reliability on all possible terrains, whether it be a one-motor-does-all, or a system which is easily adjusted depending on terrain. We have a few mocked up ideas which we hope to road test very soon."

All this seems to be in keeping with Abrams' drive to have a good portion of the film created through practical effects. And as we now know, Star Wars: Episode VII will arrive on 18 December 2015.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Beetlejuice sequel in the works

The Beetlejuice sequel looks set to become a reality after years of lingering in the darkest depths of development limbo. Seth Grahame-Smith (Dark Shadows) is the man charged with writing the latest script and there has been speculation that Tim Burton, having recently wrapped on Big Eyes, is ready to come back and direct old friend Michael Keaton in the lead role. Now, talking to The Daily Beast, Keaton's co-star Winona Ryder is hinting that she might be back as well.

Ryder, of course, played the troubled Lydia Deetz, who moves with her annoying family into a house that was formerly owned by Adam and Barbara Maitland (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis), who died in a car accident and who are trying to haunt the place. They contract Beetlejuice, an insane bio-exorcist, to remove the new humans from what they still see as their home. Lydia takes a shine to the pair, but Beetlejuice decides he likes her even more.

Ryder's not ready to spill the beans about the new film just yet – "I'm kind of sworn to secrecy" – but she does reveal a few plans for the movie. "It's not a remake. It's 27 years later. And I have to say, I love Lydia so much. She was such a huge part of me. I would be really interested in what she is doing 27 years later."

Even today, Ryder, who was 17 when Beetlejuice was shot, feels closer to Burton's masterpiece than many of her other movies. "That's one of those movies where little kids stop me," she said. "I'm so associated with it. I think it gave me my career. I was such a weird looking kid."

While she may be protective of the characters, like many of the people who worked on the original ("I would never go near a sequel if it was not Tim and Michael. Because those guys, I love,") Ryder has clearly been contacted about it. Whether she ends up in the final film though is another matter, but we can certainly hope for a decent follow-up. It's showtime!

New Saving Mr. Banks featurette arrives online

Walt Disney Pictures' tale of how Walt Disney convinced author P.L. Travers to let him turn her Mary Poppins tome into a film is at the heart of Saving Mr. Banks, which is already garnering awards chatter. At its core, alongside Emma Thompson as Travers, is Tom Hanks as Walt himself, and this latest featurette explores why he was cast (aside from being two time Academy Award® winner) and what he thought he needed to bring to the performance.

The quest to turn Mary Poppins into a cinematic reality was not an easy one. Travers was far from sold on the idea, and told anyone who asked in no uncertain terms what she thought of it. Disney launched a charm offensive (which as far as Travers was concerned had more an emphasis on "offensive"), flying her to California to meet him for a grand tour of Disneyland and introduce the author to the various creatives who would be bringing her characters to life. It's only as he dug deeper beneath her resistance that he discovered the very personal reasons why Travers wanted to hold on to her beloved tales.

As Hanks himself admits in this footage, he doesn't look much like Disney despite growing the iconic moustache. Instead, he looked for the heart of Disney and the sparkle of whimsy in his eyes. From all reports, he's done a fine job.

With Colin Farrell, Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman, Bradley Whitford, B.J. Novak, Rachel Griffiths and Kathy Baker also among the cast, Saving Mr. Banks is out on 29 November.

Terry Gilliam says Don Quixote will be his next film

The Monty Python player turned filmmaker infamously began production way back in 2000, before numerous on and off set mishaps led to the production being cancelled. You can check out the brilliant documentary Lost In La Mancha (2002) for that particular saga. There was yet another financial hiccup that killed pre-production on a renewed attempt in 2010, but now it seems Terry Gilliam's The Man Who Killed Don Quixote may finally (again) be going before his cameras. The director tells Coming Soon that, with The Zero Theorem complete, he hopes it will be his next project. "I think this is the seventh time [I've tried to get it going]," he reflects. "Lucky seven, maybe?"

Not a straight adaptation of Miguel De Cervantes' 17th Century Spanish classic, Gilliam's The Man Who Killed Don Quixote was originally set to star Johnny Depp as a time travelling advertising executive who teams up with delusional adventurer Don Quixote (Jean Rochefort) in 17th Century La Mancha. Then in 2010 it was planned that Ewan McGregor would be the suit, with Robert Duvall pointing his lance at the windmill. Whether that's still in the stars or whether we're looking at an altogether different cast is still unclear.

"We'll see if it happens," Gilliam shrugs. "This is kind of my default position, going back to that. I actually just want to make it and get rid of it. Get it out of my life! I don't know if it will be good or bad. The dangerous thing is that a lot of people are waiting for it, so I can disappoint a lot of people maybe."

It's no exaggeration at this point to call Gilliam's a Quixotic vision, so his strangely resigned determination is nothing but appropriate. Here's hoping it turns out not to have been, in the end, an impossible dream.

While we're waiting to find out, The Zero Theorem is released in the UK on 14 March next year.

Clip from new Mickey Mouse short arrives online

The tradition of putting short films in front of animated features has come roaring back in recent years thanks to Pixar and Walt Disney Pictures, adding them to their big releases. We've enjoyed the likes of Paperman and now the Mouse House's latest, Frozen, comes bearing the gift of throwback Mickey Mouse cartoon, Get A Horse!

Conceived and directed by Simpsons veteran Lauren MacMullan, Get A Horse! sees Mickey (voiced using the original recordings of Walt Disney himself), Minnie, friends Horace Horsecollar and Clarabelle Cow, enjoying a music filled wagon ride. That is, until Peg-Leg Pete shows up in his noisy car and tries to run them off the road.

MacMullan came up with the idea after Wreck-It Ralph (2012) director Rich Moore, told her Disney was looking for more Mickey content for TV network 'toons. But it soon evolved into an idea for a animated short that began life as an attempt to recreate the 1928 shorts that MacMullan loved. With new animation augmenting some of the classic soundtrack cues, the short quickly became something much more.

You can see Mickey's return to the big screen in front of Disney's Frozen from the 6 December.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Deadpool movie closer to green light?

Back in March this year there was a sudden flurry of Deadpool activity when Ryan Reynolds (Green Lantern) and director Tim Miller hit a studio to produce three minutes of stall setting test footage. Then it all went quiet again. But now the ever dedicated Reynolds and Miller, have both spoken out again recently to insist that the Merc with the Mouth will not be silenced.

Miller kicked things off when he told Clevver movies that the satirical, self-aware Marvel property is "getting closer to a green light".

"We will never give up!" he raved. "Deadpool is still alive and we're just waiting for the studio to embrace what an amazingly fucking awesome film this would be. Ryan is ready, I am ready, the fans are more than ready, we just need that elusive green light!"

Talking to Yahoo meanwhile, Reynolds concurs that, "Within the last couple of weeks we've taken a few very, very small tiptoes forward". He also reveals that "in its current iteration (written by Zombieland's Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick) the movie's actually very small. There's minimal impact to the studio, which is the way we're kind of presenting it to them. We're saying, 'Look, the budget is minimal. Therefore, can we do it the way that it should be done... [with] a rated R?' It needs those elements."

A similar approach worked for the Riddick team over at Universal, although in that instance the film was actually mounted as an indie production and only sold to the studio afterwards. The Marvel rights connection means that Deadpool has to go through Twentieth Century Fox all the way, and the violent tone of the work is clearly a sticking point at board levels. Arguably Fox ought to be looking at the Blade and Punisher films as reference points rather than the Iron Man series and The Avengers, but for the money men those could also be seen as the exceptions that prove the rule.

Whatever happens, it's clear that Deadpool is still a way off yet, although Reynolds says that, if he was a betting man, he'd expect it "in our lifetime".

New Anchorman 2 character one sheet as Veronica Corningstone hits New York

With Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell), Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) and Champ Kind (David Koechner) getting their chance to stomp all over New York with their super sized character one sheets for Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, it seemed only fair that Christina Applegate's Veronica Corningstone was handed her chance to do the same.

As some of you many remember from the first film, Veronica and Will Ferrell's Ron were rival news anchors who became lovers. As we pick up the story in the sequel, Ron and Veronica have been married for a few years and their relationship has, frankly, crumbled. No more sexcapades on the most glorious rainbow ever for these two. Both dally with potential new partners – Veronica with Greg Kinnear's Gary and Ron with Meagan Good's Linda Jackson – but does this really spell the end for the epic Burgundy Corningstone partnership?

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

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues also features the return of Vince Vaughn and Luke Wilson, while there are said to be cameos from Harrison Ford, Nicole Kidman, Sacha Baron Cohen and Jim Carrey, among others. Look out too for a bubble permed Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids), as potential love interest for Carell's Tamland.

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

Introducing the New Marvel Studios logo

If you've seen the recent release of Thor 2: The Dark World, you may have noticed something a little different just before the opening title sequence, as the traditional Marvel Studios logo morphed into it's next generation, complete with the studio's very first official fanfare composed by Brian Tyler (Now You See Me).

Marvel Studios President, Kevin Feige, explains why it was the right time for a branding update.

"We designed the very first Marvel logo for the first Spider-Man film," remembers Feige. "We’ve used that logo for eleven years, and with Thor: The Dark World, it felt like a good time to update it because this is the very first film that only has the Marvel logo in front of it. You look back at the other films, and they've also featured our studio partners' or distribution partners' logos. But now that we are our own entity within the Walt Disney Company, it is only the Marvel logo in front of the movies. So that felt like the time to update it and have something that is more substantial as a standalone logo in front of our features."

The new logo will appear in front of all future Marvel features, as well as Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. But in creating the new logo, Feige didn't want to break too much from the one fans have grown to know and love.

"The key was, we really loved that old flip logo," the Producer remarks. "We didn't want to re-invent the wheel, but we wanted it to feel bigger, to feel more substantial, which is why it starts with the flip, but suddenly it's more dimensional as we go through the lettering and it reveals itself with the metallic sheen before settling into the white-on-red, well known Marvel logo, with the added flourish of the arrival and the announcement of the Studios at the bottom of the word Marvel."

For the very first time, Marvel Studios now has its very own fanfare as well, something that helped make the new logo feel more substantial.

"My favorite part of it is, like all great studio logos, you need a fanfare, and we'd never had that before," adds Feige. "We sometimes started the score of the movie, sometimes just had sound effects over it, sometimes had a song over it that leads into the beginning of the movie. So this is the first time that we have an actual, wonderful fanfare to accompany our logo. We turned to Brian Tyler to compose it for us, who this year has done two movies for us and two of what I believe to be two of the best scores in any Marvel Studios film, for Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World. So he thankfully was willing to and happy to create a spectacular standalone fanfare for us."

You can see the new Marvel logo for yourself on the big screen in front of Thor: The Dark World, now in theatres and IMAX 3D.

New UK one sheet for The Monuments Men

Despite the recent release date shift, we're still going to get George Clooney's latest World War II drama, The Monuments Men, early next year. To keep that in our minds, Twentieth Century Fox and Sony Pictures have released a brand new one sheet.

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 now be will be out in the UK on 21 February.

"A great flood is coming!"

Paramount Pictures have just released their first one sheet and trailer for Darren Aronofsky's (Black Swan) Noah.

Written by John Logan (Gladiator) and Aronofsky himself, this is not your traditional retelling of the age old bible story, but rather a radical reimagining, complete with giant angels known as Watchers.

But whilst it looks as though the promises of a weird twist on the Biblical story will be kept, it also looks like the film will deliver on the promise of epic action, as Noah prepares to defend his escape ship against those who would steal it.

Russell Crowe (Man Of Steel) plays the titular ark builder who is inspired by a dream of the Almighty to build the mighty big boat. Jennifer Connelly (Blood Diamond) plays his supportive wife, Naameh, with Douglas Booth (Romeo And Juliet) and Logan Lerman (The Perks Of Being A Wallflower) as Noah's sons, Shem and Ham. We also have Anthony Hopkins (Thor) as his grandfather Methuselah and Emma Watson (The Bling Ring) as close friend and possible love interest of Booth's Shem.

The trailer also gives us our first look at Ray Winstone's barbaric opponent to Noah, as well as providing us an idea of the scale of the movie.

Noah is set to hit cinemas in the UK and the US on 28 March 2014. Better lay out the sandbags fast.

First one sheet and trailer for Maleficent arrives online

Walt Disney Pictures have just released their first one sheet and trailer for Maleficent, the first full length feature from Academy Award® winning visual effects guru, Robert Stromberg (Life Of Pi).

How do you re-imagine a terrifying, green skinned, horned, baby targeting fairy as the heroine of the tale? We're not sure, but the latest live action feature from the Mouse House promises to provide the answer, with Angelina Jolie stepping into the role

The film sees Jolie's Maleficent growing up in an idyllic forest, only to see it ravaged by an invading army and to be betrayed by those closest to her, "an act that begins to turn her pure heart to stone". Out for revenge, she curses the baby daughter of the invading king – but as the child (Elle Fanning) grows up she realises that she may be the key to peace between the kingdoms.

Jolie has described Maleficent as more than the traditional villainess who'll transform into a dragon and hit scorch at the first sniff of a grievance. In short, it's Maleficent's journey to the place we found her in Sleeping Beauty (1959). "I hope in the end you see a woman who is capable of being many things", she told Entertainment Weekly, "and just because she protects herself and is aggressive, it doesn't mean she can't have other warmer qualities. You have to figure out the puzzle of what she is."

Fun fact, incidentally: that's Jolie's daughter Vivienne as the young Aurora, presumably because she's the only toddler around who didn't burst into tears around Jolie's horned figure.

Joining her for the ride are Sharlto Copley (District 9), Lesley Manville (Another Year), Sam Riley (Control), Imelda Staunton (Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix), Juno Temple (Atonement) and Miranda Richardson (The Young Victoria). The film's scheduled for a 30 May 2014 release in the US and should be out in the UK soon after.

"There come a time, when good man must wear mask."

The Lone Ranger rides again, and it is with no small relief and a wide grin that we can embrace the reboot of one of the longest running, most iconic and complicated franchises in entertainment history.

Created by Fran Striker, The Lone Ranger made his debut on American radio in 1933 and ran until 1954. Spanning over 3,000 episodes, it was only a matter of time before the enormously successful radio show spun off into other media.

Striker himself published 16 Lone Ranger novels between 1936 and 1956. Two non canon film serials were produced in 1936 and 1939. A Lone Ranger daily newspaper strip ran from 1938 until 1971. Dell comics ran 145 issues from 1948 to 1962, including spin-off series' for both Tonto and Silver, before Gold Key took over publishing duties in 1964.

But perhaps the most popular and successful interpretation of the character, however, was the television series starring Clayton Moore as the Lone Ranger and Jay Silverheels as Tonto (with John Hart replacing Moore for the third season). The Lone Ranger TV show ran from 1949 until 1957 and reruns featured heavily on US networks right up to the 1980s. The series produced 221 original episodes and Moore and Silverheels starred in two big screen Lone Ranger outings: The Lone Ranger (1956), and The Lone Ranger And The Lost City Of Gold (1958). There were also two Lone Ranger animated series, one in 1966 and one in 1980 which ran as part of the Tarzan/Lone Ranger/Zorro Adventure Hour.

After the poorly received The Legend Of The Lone Ranger (1981) starring Klinton Spillsbury, the character faded away from the mainstream. The film had suffered set backs before it was ever released. Clayton Moore had been making personal appearances in the Lone Ranger costume since the TV show debuted. Understandably the films producers were uncomfortable with two Lone Rangers running around, so they took legal action to prevent Moore from appearing with the Ranger mask on. 

Over a decade later, Topps Comics tried to revive the character with a 4 issue mini-series in 1994, but had limited success. And in 2003 Warner Bros produced a two hour Lone Ranger TV special that was intended as a series pilot. However, the producers had changed the story so much the character was barely recognisable and new series was never produced.

Respite finally came in 2006 when Dynamite Entertainment released a short comic book series that saw the Lone Ranger find a new audience and a popularity he hadn't experienced since the Clayton Moore series.

Then owned by Classic Media, the future seemed bright for our masked hero, and in January 2007 The Weinstein Company and its home entertainment division, Genius Products, partnered with UK based Entertainment Rights in a deal that would see The Lone Ranger reach a new home entertainment audience through TV and video games. Instead, Boomerang Media bought out Entertainment Rights, including Classic Media, which was later acquired by DreamWorks Animation and renamed as DreamWorks Classics.

While ownership of the Lone Ranger property was shifting ambiguously, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Entertainment Rights had set the film up at Walt Disney Pictures as Lone Ranger, under the leadership of then studio chairman Dick Cook. Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, who had worked with Bruckheimer and Disney on the Pirates Of The Caribbean film series, were drafted in to write the script in 2008 around the time that Disney announced that Johnny Depp would be portraying Tonto.

Initial drafts of the script were considered too supernatural – including a plot involving shape shifting werewolves – and was subsequently rewritten by Justin Haythe (Revolutionary Road). Mike Newell, who was then directing Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time (2010) for Bruckheimer and Disney, was initially in negotiations to direct Lone Ranger in 2009. Bruckheimer, however, wanted to hold off until Newell had completed Prince Of Persia, and Depp had finished filming Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011). A year later, Bruckheimer stalwart Gore Verbinski was finally hired to direct. 

Even then the signs were not auspicious. Admittedly the photos of Johnny Depp in buckskin and a dead crow on his head – Depp's make-up and costume inspired by the painting I Am Crow by Kirby Sattler, who is not American Indian and paints imaginary characters – looked intriguing. But the years in development, multiple credited screenwriters, different mooted directors, vague reports of production problems, a budget that ballooned to the $250 million mark and a slew of comparisons to the Wild Wild West (1999) from the US reviews all suggested a disappointing fiasco could be on the cards. Not a bit. Blockbuster über producer Bruckheimer and director Verbinski, with a considerable effort from a great cast, stunt co-ordinators, animal wranglers, immortal music and scenery enshrined as John Ford country, resoundingly deliver the goods and the potential for an ongoing saga to rival The Pirates Of The Caribbean. 

The scene is set when a small boy in a Lone Ranger costume visits a Wild West exhibit in San Francisco in 1933. The year being just one of the many homages and references, since 1933 was the year The Lone Ranger debuted on American radio.

The boy (Mason Elston Cook) stands transfixed by a display featuring a wax figure of a weird and wizened American Indian. Of course he's not a wax figure at all, but an ancient, addlepated Tonto, who mistakes the boy for his Kemosabe and takes off at a gallop with flashbacks down Memory Lane. The device of an old man telling a tale to a young boy was the genius stroke in William Goldman's, The Princess Bride, and it works as brilliantly here. The youngster's intermittent objections, indignation and incredulity over aspects of Tonto's story taking us back and forth in time periods and effectively linking episodic adventures into one big story in five acts. It also preempts protests in the stalls from Lone Ranger buffs concerned by deviations from the long established lore. If one can sit tight and exercise patience through troubling episodes and seeming transgressions – like the ever morally upright hero holding up a bank at gun point – all is gradually revealed and explained in a highly satisfactory, reasoned and reverent fashion.

This is an origin story. John Reid (Armie Hammer) arrives in Colby, Texas, in 1869 with a law degree, a prosecutorial job and a belief in law, order and justice that remains unshakable to the point of foolish do-gooding innocence. His elder brother, Dan (James Badge Dale), is a Texas Ranger, and married to John's once sweetheart, Rebecca (Ruth Wilson). When Dan and his posse ride out in pursuit of the infamous Butch Cavendish, John the inexperienced city slicker is embarrassed into coming along. Ambush and slaughter ensue. John soon finds himself regaining consciousness in a grave dug by the eccentric Tonto (Depp), before recovering and donning a mask made from his brother's vest, with the startlingly savvy Tonto advising him that he needs to stay dead in their circumstances. A partnership is born, with odd couple bickering the tone and parallel agendas the plot, with the rest of The Lone Ranger's essential accoutrements – flashing white wild stallion, silver bullets and catchphrase – collected in due course.

Meanwhile, vicious baddies (William Fichtner, almost unrecognisable as the grubby badass Butch, accompanied by an assortment of grotesque goons including the bizarrely underused likes of James Frain) are raiding ranches, banks and stirring up war between the Comanches, settlers and railroad interests (embodied by Tom Wilkinson's devious big shot presiding in the fancy, elegantly appointed railroad car). We should point out that history and geography have gone out of the window from the off, and other niggles include various musical anachronisms – like a band playing a Sousa march that wasn't composed for another 20 years. The Transcontinental Railroad that linked East and West, and the thousands of Chinese workers who laboured to build it, went nowhere near Texas. And locations in cinematically sacrosanct Monument Valley, Utah and California look nothing like Texan terrain. But they do make for mighty pretty pictures; a shot of The Lone Ranger and Tonto astride their mounts at the edge of John Ford's Point in Monument Valley is one of the breathtaking images that make you take this film seriously and to heart amid crazed action, breakneck escapades and belly laughs. It isn't just golden oldies that rate referencing. Helena Bonham Carter's Red, roistering madam of the improbably Fellini-esque local pleasure palace, has a finely crafted artificial limb of ivory scrimshaw that conceals a secret straight out of Tarantino and Rodriguez's Grindhouse (2007).

Depp and Hammer pitch their performances as Tonto (marking the first time the sidekick gets top billing) and Lone Ranger beautifully, funny but not too ridiculous, engaging and at times even moving. Tonto's broken English and wackier rants are his mask. There is intelligence, wisdom, cunning and long-term planning in his seeming madness. Even his inauthentic, highly individual accessories are eventually explained as possessions and emblems with great significance in some major back story reveals. Small moments, pointed shots and apparent throwaway lines are neatly planted throughout that make sense of several mysteries and oddities by the end. The impossibly square-jawed Hammer also has the chops to pull off a naive, well intentioned pratfaller, a classic hero and a sorrowing survivor with dramatically emotional gear changes. Although this is dangerously pitched as an action adventure, comedy Western, the abundant humour happily stays the right side of feel good, knowing jests never straying into panto, parody or piss take.

Silver too is a particular stand out. A comedic horse with a taste for hooch recalling Lee Marvin's drunken nag in Cat Ballou (1965) and an aptitude for heights that defies explanation, but when thundering hooves and riding like the wind are called for he certainly shows his true colour. One scene in particular both demonstrates this point and also explains where the money went. The Lone Ranger appears, heroically posed on Silver, on a rooftop, as Rossini's William Tell Overture takes over from Hans Zimmer's superb score for a gobsmacking set piece of runaway trains on twin tracks, Tonto aboard one, bad guys on the other, hostages and loot changing hands, heroine dangling over precipices, while the masked man and his steed fly over rooftops, railway carriages and chasms, the careening locomotives' paths perilously aligning, bending, diverging and colliding in a sensational climactic spectacle. Verbinski and co have literally timed and orchestrated the culminating thrill ride action to the music, and it's remarkably magical.

Talk about a pleasant surprise then! Real storytelling, beautifully – at times insanely – executed, with enough excitement, laughs and fun to make you feel seven years old again.

Monday, 18 November 2013

20th Century Fox announce release dates for 2015

Summer 2015 just got even bigger as those with pencils and erasers have been making some diary changes over at 20th Century Fox, affecting the release schedules for Josh Trank's (Chronicle) Fantastic Four reboot, Matthew Vaughn's (X-Men: First Class) The Secret Service and video game adaptation Assassin's Creed. The upshot of which means even more releases in the already extraordinary summer of 2015.

The Secret Service is Vaughn's spy yarn starring Colin Firth and Taron Egerton, based on the comic by Mark Millar and Watchmen illustrator Dave Gibbons. It was originally scheduled for November next year, but has now been earmarked for 6 March 2015.

That has created a knock-on effect, since The Secret Service now occupies the slot previously set for the revived Fantastic Four, which will now hit on 19 June (going up against Pixar's Inside Out based on current schedules). Assassin's Creed, starring Michael Fassbender, which was due on 19 June, has swan dived onto the straw cart of 7 August. Fox have also placed Paul Feig's (Bad Teacher) Susan Cooper, starring Melissa McCarthy and Jason Statham, on 22 May (the same day as Brad Bird's Tomorrowland).

Let's not forget, 2015 is also the year that includes Superman/Batman, Star Wars: Episode VII, Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Jurassic World, Ant Man, Neill Blomkamp's (District 9) Chappie, World Of Warcraft, Kenneth Branagh's (Thor) Cinderella, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, and possibly a fifth Terminator and Legend Of Conan. Oh, and Bond 24.

What we shouldn't expect to see that year, however, is Roland Emmerich's long-mooted Independence Day sequel. Fox have pushed that one to a projected release date of 1 July 2016, sensibly marking the twentieth anniversary of the original.

Lego character one sheets arrive online

Warner Bros have just released their latest character one sheets for The Lego Movie, the first original full length feature based on the ever popular plastic building blocks.

Billed as "the greatest movie ever assembled", The Lego Movie finds a band of rebels trying to fight against the dictatorial designs of Lord Business (Will Ferrell), who believes that every part of the plastic universe should abide by his rules and all Minifigures should know their place.

They recruit a seemingly ordinary Minifigure named Emmet (Chris Pratt), whom they believe is the great Master Builder, destined to lead them to victory. Sadly for everyone involved, it appears that Emmet is the single most ordinary citizen of the Lego dimension. He'll need to trust in the likes of retired space wizard Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman), Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) and even Batman (Will Arnett) to help him realise his destiny. Assuming it is his destiny. They're all a little unclear on that front.

Directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller (Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs), The Lego Movie features an all star cast of vocal talents, including Liam Neeson, Channing Tatum, Cobie Smulders, Alison Brie, Jonah Hill, Charlie Day and Nick Offerman.

The Lego Movie is out on 14 February.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

"They're always watching..."

Summit Entertainment have just released their latest one sheet and trailer for young adult adaptation Divergent starring Shailene Woodley (The Descendants), Theo James (Underworld: Awakening) and Kate Winslet (Revolutionary Road).

Adapted from the first of Veronica Roth's best selling novels, Divergent is set in a dystopian future world (Chicago in this case) where people are divided into social factions based on their personalities.

Woodley's Beatrice 'Tris' Prior, however, is different. She doesn't belong in any one faction, and her divergent nature means she's a threat to the orderly running of the civilization. Things aren't easy for those who are identified as different – and by different, we mean dangerous. Tris joins the Dauntless (courageous) faction but there, together with friends and her mysterious, handsome trailer Four (Theo James), Tris must face the perils ahead and figure out the plans of Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet), the stern figurehead she'll have to defeat.

The new promo certainly emphasises the Hunger Games (2012) style and feeling of this one, with Woodley demonstrating the charisma required to go up against the likes of Winslet. With Miles Teller, Jai Courtney, Zoë Kravitz, Maggie Q, Ansel Elgort, Mekhi Phifer, Ray Stevenson and Ashley Judd among the cast, Divergent hits the UK on 4 April.

First look at Cameron Diaz in Annie

Those accustomed to more alluring images of Cameron Diaz may wish to avert their gazes from this story in favour of happier times. Her entrance in The Mask, say, or wearing Spiderman skimpies for Charlie's Angels. Those of a less shallow persuasion, however, might enjoy this first look at Diaz in costume as Annie's Agatha Hannigan.

Note the 'H Bomb' necklace. We certainly don't remember that on Carol Burnett.

Hannigan is, of course, the matron of the orphanage that plays home to little Annie. She likes a drink or three but hates children. Diaz' turn in Bad Teacher should certainly stand her in some sort of stead here, although that didn't quite prepare her for having to sing.

Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts Of The Southern Wild) is playing Annie, with Jamie Foxx as Benjamin Stacks (the Daddy Warbucks role), Rose Byrne as the sympathetic Grace Farrell, and further support from Bobby Cannavale and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. Will Gluck (Friends With Benefits) is helming the adaption, who also had a hand in the screenplay, which had previously been worked on by Emma Thompson and Aline Brosh McKenna.

Will Smith and Jay-Z are the drivers behind the film (Smith had originally seen the film as a starring gig for his daughter Willow), and is shooting right now for a release next Christmas.

Joe Wright in talks to helm Pan for Warner Bros

Hollywood certainly loves a good origin story, and sooner or later every character will either have the traditional take on their beginnings explored and re-imagined or have something freshly fashioned for their cinema outing. Peter Pan has been the subject of interest in this regard for some time now – there are at least two projects already bubbling away – and Warner Bros are currently negotiating with Anna Karenina's (2012) Joe Wright to direct another in Pan.

Jason Fuchs has written the script for this one, which appears, in this embryonic form at least, to be a straight retelling of J.M. Barrie's character's early days. An orphan who is transported to the magical world of Neverland, where he stops growing up as he becomes the saviour of the natives in an ongoing rebellion against pirate forces.

If he does make a deal with the studio, this certainly sounds right up Wright's filmmaking alley. Whilst he's best known for his big costume dramas such as Anna Karenina and Pride & Prejudice (2005), he has also shown an ability to hop genres, such as Saoirse Ronan actioner Hanna (2011). Assuming the project goes ahead, it'll be competing against an adaption by Alice In Wonderland (2010) producer Joe Roth at Sony Pictures, and a Pan prequel with Gary Ross (The Hunger Games) attached, Peter And The Starcatchers, at Disney.

Zack Snyder talks Batman Vs. Superman

With Man Of Steel arriving on Blu-Ray in the US, Warner Bros have naturally wanted to drum up sales. Part of that effort was a live Yahoo! event featuring DC fanatic Kevin Smith talking to Man Of Steel director Zack Snyder and co-star Amy Adams, which you can watch below. During the event, Snyder dropped a few careful hints about what we can expect from the sequel, which will see Henry Cavill's Superman clash with Ben Affleck's Batman.

"The fun of the idea is to be able to play with that relationship," Snyder says. "Whether they fight and become friends, or whether they're friends and they fight... Of course, some physical conflicts will be involved."

He also teased of Lex Luthor's inclusion in the film, saying, "Lex loves to call Superman an alien."

Naturally, Snyder stopped shy of revealing too much, and most of the plot – beyond the meeting of the two superhero behemoths – remains under wraps. Casting rumours are leaking, as always, including reports that actor Adam Driver (best known for Lena Dunham's HBO show Girls) is the front runner to play Dick Grayson, the former Robin, who is estranged from his crime fighting partner and working under the alias Nightwing. Latino Review first broke word of the character's inclusion, and the report has apparently been confirmed by The Wrap's sources.

In related news, Warner Bros have also been looking for their female lead, with speculation that Wonder Woman could show up, at least briefly. The role, however, is currently listed as someone who could be a potential love interest for Affleck's Bruce Wayne. Olga Kurylenko (Oblivion), Gal Gadot (Fast Five) and Elodie Young (G.I. Joe: Retaliation) are the current contenders for consideration.

Snyder is set to start main unit production on the film early next year with a 17 July 2015 release date already set.

Emilia Clark front runner for Sarah Connor in new Terminator film

With a director now finally in place in form of Thor: The Dark World's Alan Taylor, the next stage of the Terminator franchise is in the search for a cast to bring the film to life around Arnold Schwarzenegger's killer cyborg. The first names cropping up in consideration for the crucial role of Sarah Connor are front runner Emilia Clarke, Brie Larson and Margot Robbie.

Played by Linda Hamilton in James Cameron's original two Terminator films, Sarah Connor is a woman who learns she is fated to give birth to the man who will lead the fight against the machine uprising and soon becomes a warrior in her own right.

Taylor has yet to start screen tests and auditions, but according to The Hollywood Reporter, Clarke, Larson and Robbie are all on the list along with several other actresses whose names have yet to leak. Clarke is best known for playing Daenerys Targaryen in Game Of Thrones and will next be on our cinema screens alongside Jude Law in Dom Hemingway. Larson is currently attracting plenty of praise for her role in indie sensation Short Term 12, while Robbie pops up as Charlotte in About Time and will be seen in next years The Wolf Of Wall Street.

In addition to Sarah Connor, Taylor needs to find a new Kyle Reese, the soldier from the future war zone who travels back in time to fight the Terminator, meets Sarah and ends up fathering John Connor. Less is known about that casting process, though The Hollywood Reporter has heard that Garrett Hedlund is on the shortlist. There will, apparently, also be a decent role for a John Connor, and that may also end up cast with a known name. Does that mean there will be more time travel shenanigans? Or just extensive scenes in the future? As always we'll be keeping our ears peeled for more.

"We do what we have to do..."

Last month we saw the first promo for Peter Berg's new passion project, Lone Survivor. Now Universal Pictures have released their latest trailer for the tragic true life tale of a Navy SEAL mission gone horribly wrong.

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. When a local farm boy stumbles across
their concealed position, they debate whether to let the boy go and risk being revealed, or terminate the witness. Ultimately, the better judgement of their natures won out, but they paid a terrible price.

This new trailer offers more moments introducing the SEAL Team 10 members before we see them in action, which gives an even darker shade to what ultimately happens. With Eric Bana, Alexander Ludwig, Jerry Ferrara and Yousuf Azami also on board, Lone Survivor is out here on 21 February next year.

"If you don't love me now, no one ever will!"

After holding on to the adaptation of Mark Helprin's romantic fantasy novel Winter's Tale for years as a dream project, writer Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind)  finally got the chance to realise his vision when cameras started rolling late last year. Now Warner Bros has released it's first trailer for the film, which stars Colin Farrell, Downton Abbey's Jessica Brown Findlay and Academy Award® winner Russell Crowe.

At first set in the 19th century, Winter's Tale chronicles the story of a thief named Peter Lake (Farrell) who breaks into the New York home of a fatally ill young woman (Findlay) and starts to fall in love with her. But his life is also complicated, not least by Pearly Soames (Crowe), a violent crime boss for whom Lake used to work for and who he's now running from.

But when Pearly finally catches up with our hero and his fate seems doomed, something strange happ

ens: he shows up in present day Manhattan having lost his memory and befriends Virginia (Jennifer Connelly), who helps him explore his past. William Hurt (Into The Wild), Eva Marie Saint (North by Northwest), Matt Bomer (In Time), Kevin Durand (Cosmopolis) and first timers Ripley Sobo and Mckayla Twiggs, round of the cast.

The trailer may be a little heavy on the fantastical schmaltz, but then, the movie is getting a Valentine's Day release in the US and will be out here – apparently retitled A New York Winter's Tale – on 21 February.

New RoboCop one sheet and trailer lands online

Columbia Pictures (Sony) and MGM have just released their latest one sheet and trailer for José Padilha's (Elite Squad) RoboCop.

The RoboCop reboot finds us in the year 2028, with multinational conglomerate OmniCorp at the centre of robot technology. Overseas, their drones have been used by the military for years, and it's meant billions for OmniCorp's bottom line. Now OmniCorp wants to bring their controversial technology to the home front, and they see a golden opportunity to do it.

When Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) – a loving husband, father and good cop doing his best to stem the tide of crime and corruption in Detroit – is critically injured in the line of duty, OmniCorp sees their chance for a part-man, part-robot police officer. OmniCorp envisions a RoboCop in every city and even more billions for their shareholders, but they never counted on one thing: there is still a man inside the machine pursuing justice.

"It's based on the original movie, which was ahead of its time both aesthetically and thematically," says Padilha, praising the prescience of Paul Verhoeven's original. "We already have the drones and now we're going to have automated robots doing law enforcement and replacing soldiers on the battlefield. We had the chance to make this movie and talk about that."Along with that and the trailer, Yahoo! Movies asked José Padilha, the film's director, to give a little context to his Robo remake and explain how he's gone about bringing Verhoeven's 1987 sci-fi ideas back to the screen.

Find out if the Brazilian director can bring similar satirical force to bear when RoboCop arrives in the UK on 7 February.

Star Wars: Episode VII set for 18 December 2015

So now we know. After months of speculation, rumour and outright guessing, the official release date for Star Wars: Episode VII has been announced as 18 December 2015.

There has been plenty of chatter both about the proposed scheduling for the film and rumours that the filmmakers were concerned about getting the movie made on time if the delivery date was earlier in the year.

"We're very excited to share the official 2015 release date for Star Wars: Episode VII, where it will not only anchor the popular holiday film going season but also ensure our extraordinary film making team has the time needed to deliver a sensational picture," says Disney chairman Alan Horn in a statement on the official site. As casting continues across the UK, shooting will kick off in spring next year at Pinewood Studios.

Timing is also a key factor, as J.J. Abrams recently commented regarding the handover of scripting duties for the film. There were predictable disturbances in the force recently when it was announced that Abrams and writer / director Lawrence Kasdan had decided to take over crafting the script for Star Wars: Episode VII from Little Miss Sunshine's Michael Arndt.

"It became clear that given the time frame and given the process and the way the thing was going that working with Larry in this way was going to get us where we need to be and when we needed to be," he said during a conference call promoting the new Bad Robot produced TV series, Almost Human, a conversation that was recorded by Deadline.

Abrams was also quick to praise Arndt and hasn't ruled out the possibility of a future collaboration. "Working with Michael was a wonderful experience and I couldn't be a bigger fan of his or adore him more, He's a wonderful guy and was incredibly helpful in the process," Abrams says. "It doesn't preclude working with Michael again in the future.”

Kasdan, of course, is a veteran of the Star Wars universe having co-written The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi. He's also been at developing one of the spin-off films Disney wants to slot in between the new trilogy for a wall-to-wall Wars experience after Episode VII docks in that aforementioned 18 December 2015 berth.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Hugh Jackman back for another Wolverine

Whilst The Wolverine may not have been the perfect outing for Hugh Jackman's Logan, it was certainly a step up in quality from X-Men Origins: Wolverine. It would seem that Team Wolverine – specifically Jackman, producer Lauren Shuler Donner and director James Mangold – are looking to give it another slice of the claws. Not really that surprising when you consider The Wolverine became the second highest grossing X-Men film of all time. The film has grossed $413 million worldwide, with $132 million domestic and $280 million in international revenue.

Deadline reports that Jackman is already set to return with studio 20th Century Fox, kicking off negotiations for Mangold to write at least the treatment for the new film with an eye to directing it if the script meets everyone's approval. Given the healthy international box office returns and the clearly solid working relationship between the star and his director, we'd imagine Mangold might end up calling the shots once again.

As for the plot? It's far to early at this point to say what Logan might be up to this time, and whether it will follow on from his experiences in X-Men: Days Of Future Past or leap to another adventure from the lived mutant's long lived history.

In the meantime, Logan will be back on our screens indulging in some Quantum Leap style time travel to help save the future in Days Of Future Past, set for release on 22 May next year.

Poster legend Drew Struzan creates one sheet for Frank Darabont's Mob City

Though there remains no sign of a UK air date, we're still intrigued by Frank Darabont's (The Shawshank Redemption) latest stab at the television market with crime noir tale Mob City. The writer/director has raided his contacts book and drafted in old friend and poster legend Drew Struzan (Star Wars, Indiana Jones) to craft a new image for the show.

Based on the critically acclaimed book L.A. Noir: The Struggle For The Soul Of America's Most Seductive City by John Buntin, Mob City opens in post World War II Los Angeles, home to glamorous movie stars, powerful studio heads and returning war heroes. But it's also a place caught between a powerful and corrupt police force and an even more dangerous criminal network determined to take over.

Los Angeles Police Chief William Parker (Neal McDonough) has made it his mission to free the city of criminals like Ben 'Bugsy' Siegel (Ed Burns) and Mickey Cohen (Jeremy Luke), the ruthless king of the Los Angeles underworld. Parker also won't hesitate to go after anyone from his own police force that sells out honour and duty for the sake of a big payout.

To carry out his sweep of organised crime, Parker sets up a new mob task force within the LAPD. Headed by Det. Hal Morrison (Jeffrey DeMunn), the task force includes Det. Joe Teague (Jon Bernthal), an ex-Marine who holds his cards close to his chest. Whilst it fits the same era as the recent Gangster Squad, we suspect the crusade against crime will fit the television format rather better than it did on the big screen.

Struzan's typically painterly image captures the blend of glitz and grit that the trailer (which you can watch below) promises.

The first episode airs in the US on 4 December.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues character one sheets stomp in

Paramount Studios have just released their latest series of super sized character one sheets for Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.

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), are fashion obsessed field reporter Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), 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).

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, as a younger rival anchorman and a bubble permed Kristen Wiig, as potential love interest for Carell's Tamland.

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

Monday, 11 November 2013

The final one sheet for The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug arrives online

Hot on the heels of the recent character one sheets, Warner Bros have just released their final theatrical one sheet for The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug.

Following on from where we left Bilbo (Martin Freeman), the dwarves and Ian McKellen's Gandalf continue on 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 Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug will finish its journey to our screens on 13 December, with The Hobbit: There And Back Again, due on 17 December 2014.

"Destroy the dragon. Take back your homeland."

With the release of the film itself now just over a month away, Warner Bros have just released their latest character one sheets and trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug. Part two of the mammoth trilogy adapted from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit.

Full of fresh moments, this latest look at the film certainly keeps up both the atmospheric spookiness of Smaug's lair, the spider dwellings and the other dark corners of Middle-earth we continue to explore.

If the first film occasionally struggled to convey the magnitude of the task facing Bilbo and friends, this new trailer certainly strives to up the stakes.

Following on from where we left Bilbo (Martin Freeman), the dwarves and Ian McKellen's Gandalf continue on 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).

Whilst Smaug remains firmly in the shadows of his golden hoard, he certainly makes his presence felt here, hissing "I am the king under the mountain," before engulfing the camera in a wall of flame.

Also featured are Lee Pace's (Lincoln) Elvenking Thranduil, Evangeline Lily (Real Steel) as elf warrior Tauriel, Swedish actor Mikael Persbrandt as shape-changer Beorn, Luke Evans (Immortals) showing off his native Welsh accent as Bard the Bowman, and Orlando Bloom returning as the ever athletic Legolas.

The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug will finish its journey to our screens on 13 December, with The Hobbit: There And Back Again, due on 17 December 2014.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

The second Lego Movie trailer has arrived online

Warner Bros have just released the second trailer for The Lego Movie, the first original full length feature based on the ever popular plastic building blocks.

Billed as "the greatest movie ever assembled", the 'realistic' computer animated adventure follows ordinary Lego Minifigure Emmet (Chris Pratt), who gets mistaken for the great Master Builder and recruited to prevent an evil tyrant from gluing the Lego universe together. He'll have help from Morgan Freeman's retired space wizard Vitruvius, Will Arnett's Batman and encounter characters voiced by Elizabeth Banks, Will Ferrell, Liam Neeson, Alison Brie and Nick Offerman.

Directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the guys behind Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs (2009), The Lego Movie is due in cinemas on 14 February next year.

Sharlto Copley has memory issues in the Open Grave trailer

What would you do if you woke up surrounded by horribly mutilated corpses in an open grave? Besides the obvious mess and gibbering from pure terror. If you're Sharlto Copley's (District 9) character in the horror thriller Open Grave, you're also trying to figure out exactly what is happening.

Copley plays John, who wakes up in the wilderness in a pit full of dead bodies. He's soon rescued by a group of strangers from a nearby house, all of whom claim, like him, to have lost their memories. As they try to investigate what happened, all manner of horrible things start to happen, and the eye of suspicion falls on each one in turn. Who can they trust? What should they do? And will any of them survive?

Featuring Thomas Kretschmann (Wanted), Joseph Morgan (Immortals), Erin Richard (Merlin), Josie Ho (Contagion) and Max Wrottesley (Hugo), Open Grave is from director Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego (Apollo 18) and writing duo Eddie and Chris Borey.

US audiences will be able to catch it on video on demand outlets from Christmas Eve, and in cinemas from 3 January. There's no sign of a UK release just yet.

First Labor Day trailer now online

Paramount Studios have just released their first trailer for Jason Reitman's (Up In The Air) latest film, Labor Day.

The film is Reitman's own adaptation of Joyce Maynard's 2009 novel, which focuses on 13 year old Henry Wheeler (Gattlin Griffith), who struggles to be the man of his house and care for his reclusive mother Adele (Kate Winslet) while confronting all the pangs of adolescence. On a back to school shopping trip, Henry and his mother encounter Frank Chambers (Josh Brolin), a man both intimidating and clearly in need of help, who convinces them to take him into their home and is later revealed to be an escaped convict.

Though Henry and Adele are initially terrified of the imposing Frank, he slowly wins them both over, and he and Adele grow increasingly close. While this trailer does seem to give an awful lot away, it also provides a chance for Brolin, and Winslet in particular, to shine. We can expect this to do well come awards season.

With Clark Gregg (The Avengers), Brooke Smith (Fair Game), James Van Der Beek (The Rules Of Attraction) in the cast, plus narration from Tobey Maguire (The Good German) as the older Henry, Labor Day is out in the UK on 7 February.

The Addams Family to return as animated feature for MGM

Charles Addams' creations, The Addams Family, have appeared in a variety of formats through the years, from the original cartoons through TV series both live action and animated, and the two big screen outings, not to mention a Broadway musical. Now it would seem the creepy, ooky and kooky family are looking to creep into cinematic animation via MGM.

The company has Corpse Bride (2005) and Monster House (2006) writer Pamela Pettler on hand to craft the script, which seems like a good choice, but there are no firm plot details as yet. We'd expect to see Gomez, Morticia, Uncle Fester, Wednesday, Pugsley and the rest scaring the living daylights out of 'ordinary' folk.

This is just the latest attempt to bring the family back to then big screen. Chris Meledandri's Illumination team had been cooking up a stop-motion version with Tim Burton, but abandoned the idea this year.

Our big hope is that whichever company gets the animation contract brings the family to life in the stylised fashion of Addams's original New Yorker cartoons, which you can sample here.

Daniel Radcliffe will be going for Gold

Back in the early days of 2010, when Britain's 2012 Olympic glory seemed like a distant fantasy, BBC Films decided to make a film about the rivalry between middle-distance runners Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett. Gold, as it is now known, has been pottering along ever since but has now put on a burst of speed with news that The Woman In Black's (2012) director James Watkins is aboard alongside that film's star, one Daniel Radcliffe.

Though the film wasn't ready for 2012, the addition of this particular duo gives it a much better chance of finally reaching our screens. Radcliffe will play Coe, in a story that charts the fierce rivalry between Coe and Ovett which began with a school cross-country race in 1972 and came to a head at the Moscow Games in 1980.

While Johnny English's William Davies originally adapted the script from sportswriter Pat Butcher's book about the match-up, The Perfect Distance, writing duties have now been taken by Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) and How To Train Your Dragon's Will Davies. Watkins will aim to shoot the film in the UK and Russia starting in April next year.

Radcliffe will next be seen playing Allen Ginsberg in Beats drama Kill Your Darlings (out December 6) and the adaptation of Joe Hill's horror novel Horns, which still doesn't have a UK release date as yet. He's also got romantic drama The F Word under his belt and will soon start work on Paul McGuigan's Frankenstein alongside James McAvoy.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson to play Quicksilver in The Avengers: Age Of Ultron

Despite the internet community simply assuming that Aaron Taylor-Johnson was confirmed as Quicksilver for The Avengers: Age Of Ultron, in reality, it has taken months for the deal to go ahead with Marvel. The ink is now dry, however, and he is now confirmed for Joss Whedon's Avengers sequel.

The actor's name first surfaced in June, when he was reported as being Marvels first choice for the role back in the days when we didn't even know what the film would be called beyond Avengers 2. According to The Wrap, the big sticking point for officially coming aboard was his promotional commitments to Godzilla. But diaries have now been consulted, schedules juggled and compromises made so that he can both hit the road on a press tour and suit up as Pietro Maximoff, brother to Wanda, also known as Scarlet Witch.

While her own casting hasn't been officially confirmed, word has comes from one Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury) that Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene) is set to play Scarlet Witch.

With Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth and Mark Ruffalo among those returning for the new film, shooting is set to get under way early next year in the UK, where everyone will be battling rogue robot Ultron, played by James Spader.

Taylor-Johnson, as mentioned, has Godzilla next set for release and the monster movie stomps across our screens on 16 May.

"This is America!"

Paramount Studios have just released their latest trailer for Martin Scorsese's (The Departed) The Wolf Of Wall Street. Despite earlier concerns regarding the fine tuning of the final cut, The Wolf Of Wall Street will make it in time to qualify for Oscar consideration and is due for release in the US on Christmas Day.

The Wolf Of Wall Street follows the tale ripped straight from Jordan Belfort's memoir, chronicling his real life hard partying indulgences as a stockbroker in 1990s New York. Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), his colleagues and associates all enjoyed the spoils of his financial gains, even as the criminal activities that sustained the party slowly came to light.

DiCaprio is backed up by Jonah Hill (21 Jump Street), Kyle Chandler (Zero Dark Thirty), Rob Reiner (This Is Spinal Tap), Margot Robbie (Pan Am), Jon Favreau (Iron Man), Jean Dujardin (The Artist), P.J. Byrne (Horrible Bosses) and Kenneth Choi (Captain America: The First Avenger), and, in a role that looks set to steal scenes, Matthew McConaughey (Mud).

With a script from Boardwalk Empire creator Terence Winter, The Wolf Of Wall Street continues to look like a lot of fun and will hit the UK on 17 January.

"What's the last thing you remember?"

After weeks of Instagram teasing, 20th Century Fox have just released their first trailer for Bryan Singer's return to the X-Men franchise, X-Men: Days Of Future Past.

X-Men: Days Of Future Past finds Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Magneto (Ian McKellen), Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and the current X-team confronting a dark alternate future where mutants have become an endangered species, tracked down, imprisoned or killed thanks to Bolivar Trask's (Peter Dinklage) Sentinel program and an overwhelming level of distrust aimed at them from regular humans.

They boldly plan to send Wolverine's consciousness back in time to convince the younger Professor X (James McAvoy), Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and the rest to work together and stop the threat at its source.

With Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games), Nicholas Hoult (Warm Bodies), Anna Paquin (True Blood), Ellen Page (Juno), Halle Berry (Cloud Atlas), Evan Peters (American Horror Story), Booboo Stewart (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn), Bingbing Fan (Ironman 3), Shawn Ashmore (The Ruins), Omar Sy (Micmacs), and Lucas Till (Stoker) rounding out the cast, expect X-Men: Days of Future Past here on May 22 next year.

Mark Strong probes your memories in the first trailer for Mindscape

First announced as heading into production over a year ago, Warner Bros have just released their first trailer for Mindscape, in which Mark Strong (Welcome To The Punch) goes poking around inside the head of Taissa Farmiga (The Bling Ring) and must face the mind boggling consequences. Brian Cox (The Escapist), Noah Taylor (Submarine) and Saskia Reeves (Me and Orson Welles) look on from the sidelines.

As you'll have no doubt gathered, Strong plays some sort of investigator with the power to wander around inside people's memories. He's brought in to unravel a mystery surrounding a troubled teenager, but gets out of his depth when it seems she's able to manipulate what he experiences, making his version of events as unreliable as hers. Is she the killer or the victim?

There are a few shades of Inception (2010) here, obviously, but also some echoes of The Cell (2000) - minus Tarsem Singh's insane production design. Familiar concepts then, but that doesn't mean Mindscape can't effectively find its own way.

Jaume Collet-Serra's (Unknown) name is all over this, but he's actually the producer. The director is Jorge Dorado, calling the shots for the first time, although his credits as an assistant director go back to 1999 and include Guillermo Del Toro's The Devil's Backbone (2001). That's some pretty good schooling.

Mindscape has no release dates yet outside of Spain.

Collet-Serra's next film as director is Liam Neeson's (again) latest actioner, Non-Stop, which is out in the UK on 28 February. You can find out more on that feature right here.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

"The world will know who we are... and what we did."

With several trailers already out there for the new Keanu Reeves action fantasy, 47 Ronin, there's a danger that all the promo footage might feel overly familiar. Still, thanks to some freshly finished effects shots, this latest effort manages to dig up plenty of new moments.

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.