Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Paul Rudd confirmed to play Ant-Man

After months of speculation, Marvel has officially confirmed that Paul Rudd (Wanderlust) will play Hank Pym in Edgar Wright's (The Worlds End) Ant-Man.

In a press release, the studio said Rudd had always been their first choice to fill the diminutive red suit.

"When Edgar came to us with the idea of Paul Rudd we felt a huge sense of relief," said producer and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige. "We knew early on that we had found the right guy. He not only agreed to to do it but became as enthusiastic as any actor we've ever met with about doing the work. We couldn't be more excited for our audiences to see what he's going to do to bring Ant-Man to life."

Marvel's confidence in Wright, co-screenwriter Joe Cornish and Rudd is great enough for it to have pushed Ant-Man into the cinematic boiler room that is summer 2015 – 31 July, to be exact.

New trailer and one sheet for Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel

Fox Searchlight have just released their latest trailer and one sheet for Wes Anderson's (Moonrise Kingdom) weird and whimsical The Grand Budapest Hotel.

The Grand Budapest Hotel's story revolves around Ralph Fiennes' Gustave H, hotel manager and serial guest lover. His travails appear to 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.

Prepare to check in at cinemas on 7 March.

Grand Budapest Hotel motion poster now online

Wes Anderson's latest feature might not be the sort of film you'd expect to see putting out a motion poster – those tend to be reserved for blockbuster action films, horror and franchises such as The Hunger Games – but we can't imagine a more fitting and visually appropriate film than Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel to get the treatment. Take a gander...

The Grand Budapest Hotel focuses on Ralph Fiennes' Gustave H, hotel manager and serial guest lover. His travails appear to 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.

The film is set to arrive here on 7 March.

"We've always defined ourselves by the ability to overcome the impossible."

Warner Bros have just released their first tantalising teaser trailer for Christopher Nolan's (The Dark Knight Rises) science fiction epic, Interstellar.

Featuring only a few seconds of actual movie footage (showing an intense, teary Matthew McConaughey driving through cornfields), this is a teaser in the truest sense – more of a mood-piece, if you like, or the long-game set up.

McConaughey's newsreel monologue is a voice from the future, a damaged world where NASA is a memory, and it both celebrates the urges to explore and innovate, and laments their demise. That gives the final shot of an ascending rocket real impact and a powerful sense of anticipation and pure optimism – complemented no end by what sounds to be another pulse raising score from Hans Zimmer. If nothing else, this first glimpse at the new Nolan glows with the promise of a truly epic journey to come.

Interstellar also stars Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty), Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables), Wes Bentley (The Hunger Games), Casey Affleck (Gone Baby Gone), Michael Caine (Inception), David Oyelowo (Jack Reacher), Topher Grace (Predators), Mackenzie Foy (The Conjuring), John Lithgow (Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes) and Ellen Burstyn (W.), and will hit UK cinemas on 7 November next year.

Sony announces Spider-Man spin-offs

Spider-Man news has been coming thick and fast of late. Shortly after the trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 surfaced and Andrew Garfield questioned his involvement in Spider-Man 4, and a month after rumours first surfaced, news has arrived that Spidey bosses Matt Tolmach and Avi Arad are expanding their world still further with spin-off features for Venom and The Sinister Six.

"Until now, we have approached each film as a separate, self-contained entity", explained Arad and Tolmach in a statement, "but with this move, we have the opportunity to grow the franchise by looking to the future as we develop a continuous arc for the story."

A five-strong brains trust has been appointment to oversee the stories, including Alex Kurtzman (Star Trek Into Darkness), his long-time Trek writing partner Roberto Orci, plus writers Jeff Pinkner (Alias), Drew Goddard (Cabin In The Woods) and Ed Solomon (Now You See Me).

Kurtzman will tackle Venom as director and co-writer, while Goddard will pen a script for The Sinister Six and could potentially find himself sitting in the big chair marked 'director'.
Goddard's involvement counts as a surprise. Joss Whedon's protégé has also been in talks to pen the Marvel / Netflix Daredevil TV show, and time, presumably, will be at a something of a premium.
Sony's official announcement reads:
"In a move to forge a new legacy in the story of Peter Parker on screen, Sony Pictures Entertainment, in association with Marvel Entertainment, is developing several new projects in the Spider-Man franchise, with Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner, Ed Solomon, and Drew Goddard to collaborate on overseeing the developing story over several films that will be produced by Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach, it was announced today by Doug Belgrad, president of Columbia Pictures, and Hannah Minghella, president of production for the studio. 
Commenting on the announcement, Belgrad said: "The Spider-Man film franchise is one of our studio's greatest assets. We are thrilled with the creative team we have assembled to delve more deeply into the world that Marc, Avi and Matt have begun to explore in The Amazing Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2. We believe that Marc, Alex, and Drew have uniquely exciting visions for how to expand the Spider-Man universe in each of these upcoming films."
Arad and Tolmach added, "This collaboration was born out of the great experience we and Marc had working with Alex, Bob, and Jeff on The Amazing Spider-Man 2. With more than fifty years' wealth of stories in the comic books to draw upon for inspiration, the Spider-Man universe is truly boundless; in addition, the Spider-Man comics have the greatest rogues gallery of any series, and to have the chance to explore that on film is truly thrilling. That is what Alex, Bob, Jeff, Ed, and Drew will do in this unprecedented collaboration, and we’re excited about the directions they are taking the character and the world."
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 hits cinemas on 18 April next year and you can check out the trailer below.

Monday, 30 December 2013

Peter Jackson announces Tintin sequel will be his next feature

Even a director like Peter Jackson, with all the tricks and resources at his disposal, can't make more hours in the day. So while the man behind the Lord Of The Rings trilogy and the current Hobbit films said in 2012 that he wanted to get the second Tintin adventure out in 2015, events have conspired to derail such plans. Still, Jackson remains committed to bringing Hergé's adventurous boy reporter to our screens and has now said he'll work on the next Tintin film once The Hobbit: There And Back Again is complete next year.

Talking with Italian movie site BadTaste at the premiere of The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, Jackson reaffirmed his commitment. "As soon as I'm free of The Hobbit, I'll be going back into doing Tintin. It was held up by The Hobbit, but we have every intention of doing another Tintin movie and it's just waiting on me to be done with these Hobbit movies."

The Adventures Of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn (2011) was directed by Jackson's collaborator, Steven Spielberg, and while the pair have both talked about progress on the next film, nothing has seen the light of day thanks to Jackson's Hobbit commitments. So if you were eagerly awaiting the next Tintin outing, you may have a wait a bit longer. Still, Jackson has also said he wants to take a break from big movies once the Hobbit films are safely complete, so we do wonder whether the delay will keep getting bigger.

First Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes character one sheets arrive online

20th Century Fox have recently released their first character one sheet for Matt Reeves' (Let Me In) Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, featuring Caesar (Andy Serkis) as he leads his army of battle ready primates.

The sequel takes place a decade after the events in Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes (2011), when humanity has been ravaged by a devastating virus unleashed upon the population. With the simian soldiers slowly establishing their own society, humanity tries to forge a fragile peace, but things don't quite go to plan.

"We'll see how Caesar becomes this leader," Reeves has said of the film. "The apes' story is a through-the-looking-glass way of looking at what we are. By what's going on in the internal lives of the apes we are exploring ourselves, our impulses, our society. So much is roiling inside [him]. He has a rational side separate from the apes - they're all instinct."

Reeves, who took on the Apes baton from Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes' Rupert Wyatt, has enthused about Andy Serkis's knack for bringing the mo-capped ape to life ("We all know he's a genius") and Weta Digital's fast advancing technology. "I want it to feel as if we're making an epic film", he said, "[and] very grounded, [so] we're lighting with real light, and we're putting the effects that are so amazing in Rise and Avatar into this environment. Making the effects emotional in real life increases the illusion. But it's a complicated thing to take these crazy digital cameras in these crazy locations."

Serkis is joined by Toby Kebbell (War Horse) as Caesar's fellow ape, Koba, as well as a human cast that boasts Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight Rises), Keri Russell (Dark Skies), Judy Greer (The Descendants) and Jason Clarke (Public Enemies). "I want to make sure to bring to the human characters the same level of emotional depth as the apes," stresses the director. "I can't give too much away, I'm hiding a little bit. I'm going back to shooting apes climbing trees in the woods."

With Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road) also in the cast, Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes is out here on 17 July next year.

New Godzilla trailer smashes online

As the indigestion dies down and the feelings of remorse over the cost of our festive activities subsides, it's time to look towards the New Year, and in the case of this blog especially, what cinematic delights lie ahead.

One film bidding for box office success is Gareth Edwards' Godzilla reboot.

After months of teases, viral campaigns and leaked footage, the latest version of Godzilla is finally ready to make his grand entrance in the shape of a trailer courtesy of Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures.

That said, when the big guy does make his appearance, he still prefers to stay cloaked in smoke and debris, so we'll have to wait until release to see him in all his multi-storey glory.

The film itself looks appropriately huge in scope, with troopers leaping through smoke-choked skies towards the marauding monster and the rest of the cast giving the human scale. This opening footage of the troopers (set to music that sounds suspiciously like the Gyorgy Ligeti track used in 2001: A Space Odyssey) is quite beautiful, while most of the rest of this peek is taken from what was shown at this years Comic Con in San Diego.

After the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Lucky Dragon 5 incident still fresh in the Japanese consciousness, Godzilla was conceived as a metaphor for nuclear weapons. As the film series expanded, some stories took on less serious undertones portraying Godzilla as a hero while other plots still portrayed Godzilla as a destructive monster; sometimes the lesser of two threats who plays the defender by default but is still a danger to humanity.

Gojira (a portmanteau of the Japanese words: gorira 'gorilla' and kujira 'whale') first appeared in Ishirō Honda's 1954 film Godzilla. Since then, Godzilla has become a worldwide pop culture icon starring in 28 films produced by Toho Co. Ltd., best known for their Kaiju creature features such as Mothra, King Ghidorah, Mechagodzilla, and Rodan. The monster last appeared on Western screens in Ronald Emmerich's inane reimagining of Gozilla in 1998.

Monsters (2010) director Edwards is the man charged with bringing the massive beast back to Western audiences and wiping our collective memories of the Roland Emmerich take at the same time. "To me, he's like a force of nature, like the wrath of God or vengeance for the way we've behaved," Edwards tells USA Today. "I want it to be epic. I want to get the hairs on the back of your neck up."

To react to the huge central figure, Edwards has gathered a cast that includes Bryan Cranston, David Strathairn, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen. He's also been handed a much heftier budget than his breakthrough first film. "It's the closest thing to being a god as I think there is in terms of a job you could have," he tells the paper. "You picture something one day and draw it, and the next day, it's physical and right there in front of you no matter how insane."

Godzilla stomps into UK cinemas on 16 May.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

New clip from The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty arrives online

In The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, Ben Stiller's eponymous hero dreams of life filled with adventure. Unfortunately, sometimes adventure comes with a side order of terror, sharp teeth and a chance of freezing to death, especially when one is dropped into icy shark infested waters.

A remake of the classic 1947 film (itself an adaption of a short story by James Thurber), the film sees Stiller direct himself as the titular Mitty, a meek employee at Life Magazine who is facing redundancy as the magazine shuts down. Instead of living in a fantasy world as normal, he's sent on a real adventure to find a key picture for the magazine's final issue, taking him – as you can see in this clip – quite a long way out of his comfort zone.

The film also stars Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids) as the object of Mitty's tentative affections, Shirley MacLaine (In Her Shoes) as his mother, Kathryn Hahn (Wanderlust) as his sister and Adam Scott (Step Brothers) as his boss.

The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty is out on 26 December.

Peter O'Toole: Lawrence Of Arabia star dies aged 81

Actor Peter O'Toole, who took the film world by storm as the eponymous hero in Sir David Lean's 1962 film classic Lawrence Of Arabia, died on Saturday aged 81, his agent has said.

He was being treated at London's Wellington hospital after a long illness, his agent added.

O'Toole's daughter Kate said the family was overwhelmed "by the outpouring of real love and affection being expressed towards him, and to us".

He received an honorary Oscar in 2003, having initially turned it down.

In a letter the actor asked the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences to delay it until he was 80, saying he was "still in the game and might win the bugger outright".

But when he finally clasped his statuette, he said: "Always a bridesmaid, never a bride, my foot."

O'Toole's agent said he was "one of a kind in the very best sense and a giant in his field".

Film critic Barry Norman described him as a "true movie star", who had "tremendous charisma".

Irish President Michael D Higgins added: "Ireland, and the world, has lost one of the giants of film and theatre.

"I was privileged to know him as a friend since 1969. I spent part of 1979 in Clifden where we met almost daily and all of us who knew him in the West will miss his warm humour and generous friendship."

Broadcaster Michael Parkinson told Sky News it was hard to be too sad about the news of his passing, and smiled as he said: "Peter didn't leave much of life unlived, did he?"

Prime Minister David Cameron said: "My thoughts are with Peter O'Toole's family and friends. His performance in my favourite film, Lawrence Of Arabia, was stunning."

He was born in 1932, though where, exactly, remained a mystery, even to O'Toole himself.

He claimed to have two birth certificates. One stated that he was born in Ireland, one in England, but he was certainly brought up in Leeds in a Yorkshire Irish family.

His father, Captain Pat, was a bookmaker – a colourful character, he was the first of many to grace O'Toole's remarkable life.

O'Toole began his acting career as an exciting young talent on the British stage and his Hamlet in 1955 at the Bristol Old Vic, was critically acclaimed.

He later said his studies at Rada under a scholarship began "quite by chance... not out of burning ambition but because of all the wonderful-looking birds".

"I hitched to London on a lorry, looking for adventure. I was dropped at Euston Station and was trying to find a hostel. I passed the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and walked in just to case the joint."

He hit international stardom when Sir David cast him as British adventurer T E Lawrence, the British World War I soldier and scholar who led an Arab rebellion against the Turks. With his mesmeric blue eyes and mercurial manner, the role seemed tailor-made for the then 30 year old actor and thrust him into the superstar bracket, where he was to remain for the rest of his life.
Playwright Noel Coward once said that if O'Toole had been any prettier, they would have had to call the film "Florence Of Arabia".
Lawrence Of Arabia earned him the first of eight Oscar nominations, with his second coming for 1964's Becket, in which he played King Henry II to Richard Burton's Thomas Becket.

Burton and O'Toole's shared love of drinking garnered many headlines along with their performances.
O'Toole played Henry again in 1968 in The Lion In Winter, for which he received his third Oscar nod, opposite Katharine Hepburn.

His five other nominations were for Goodbye, Mr Chips (1968), The Ruling Class (1971), The Stunt Man (1980), My Favorite Year (1982) and finally for Venus (2006).

Other performances included leading Shakespearean parts, comic roles in adaptations of PG Wodehouse and his famed starring role in Keith Waterhouse's stage play Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell.

O'Toole also had a reputation for riotous behaviour following bouts of drinking, but in the mid 1970s he was diagnosed with pancreatitis and was warned by medics that more alcohol would prove fatal.

He had yards of his intestinal tubing – "most of my plumbing" – removed and he gave up drinking.

"If you can't do something willingly and joyfully, then don't do it,'' he once said. "If you give up drinking, don't go moaning about it; go back on the bottle. Do. As. Thou. Wilt."

Last July, after a career spanning 50 years and at the age of 79, O'Toole said he was retiring from the stage and screen.

"I bid the profession a dry-eyed and profoundly grateful farewell," he said.

"The heart for it has gone out of me. It won't come back".

However, last month it was announced he was being lined up for a role as a Roman orator in Katherine of Alexandria, a film scheduled for release next year.

O'Toole was a man of great wit and intellect. The breadth of his ability, on stage and screen, in comedy and drama and, latterly, as a writer, was matched by the depth of his commitment to his work.

A turbulent private life was mirrored by performances of real feeling. He was never afraid to take risks with his work and he was dismissive of those who went for the soft option.

In an early poem, Peter O'Toole vowed to "stir the smooth sands of monotony". He undoubtedly managed this.

Our thoughts go out to his friends and family.

New Edge Of Tomorrow stills arrive online

Warner Bros has already given us their first full trailer for Tom Cruise's latest, Edge Of Tomorrow, and now we have two brand new stills from the science fiction action thriller.

Directed by Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity), Edge Of Tomorrow is adapted from Hiroshi Sakurazaka's novel All You Need Is Kill, and was known by the same title for quite some time.

The story finds Cruise as Bill Cage, a soldier happy to be working far from the front lines in a brutal war against powerful aliens. 

Cage, who has scored a plum job overseeing the army's PR, makes a series of mistakes and ends up in full battle armour on the front line, where he promptly dies.

Caught in a time loop, Cage finds himself back in time and, with the help training expertise of Special Forces fighter Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), he begins to figure out the secret to fighting the bad guys, right in the middle of one of the most important skirmishes of the conflict. It helps that Rita has apparently been experiencing the same time leaping effects, which seem connected to the invading alien technology. Can they make it work and save mankind?

With Bill Paxton (Haywire), Jeremy Piven (RocknRolla), Lara Pulver (Da Vinci's Demons), Charlotte Riley (Entity) and Jonas Armstrong (Hit & Miss) in the cast, Edge Of Tomorrow is set to arrive on May 30.

"Come find me when you wake up!"

Warner Bros have just released their first full trailer for Tom Cruise's latest, Edge Of Tomorrow.

Directed by Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity), Edge Of Tomorrow is adapted from Hiroshi Sakurazaka's novel All You Need Is Kill, and was known by the same title for quite some time.

The story finds Cruise as Bill Cage, a soldier happy to be working far from the front lines in a brutal war against powerful aliens. 

Cage, who has scored a plum job overseeing the army's PR, makes a series of mistakes and ends up in full battle armour on the front line, where he promptly dies.

Caught in a time loop, Cage finds himself back in time and, with the help training expertise of Special Forces fighter Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), he begins to figure out the secret to fighting the bad guys, right in the middle of one of the most important skirmishes of the conflict. It helps that Rita has apparently been experiencing the same time leaping effects, which seem connected to the invading alien technology. Can they make it work and save mankind?

The trailer promises lots of action, Cruise naturally throwing himself into the midst of the set pieces and Blunt showing that the sparks we saw in Looper (2012) are now a fire. It's a distinctly different role from most for the actress.

"I've discarded the bonnet and corset for an exosuit and a huge sword, it seems," Blunt told USA Today. "I was looking for something very different from anything I have done before. This was definitely that." Long days of training were required, with Blunt working on sprinting, yoga, wirework and gymnastics. Oh, and becoming a badass. "I even learned Krav Maga, a lethal martial arts using pretty much everything including your teeth to destroy. That was pretty fun."

Cruise, of course, is used to throwing himself into such things. But even he was surprised at the physical demands. "One of the suits with the angel wings had a sniper rifle and missile launcher on my back and weighed about 130 pounds. I'm having to sprint in it," he says. "It's physically gruelling."

With Bill Paxton (Haywire), Jeremy Piven (RocknRolla), Lara Pulver (Da Vinci's Demons), Charlotte Riley (Entity) and Jonas Armstrong (Hit & Miss) in the cast, Edge Of Tomorrow is set to arrive on May 30.

"Some lives will always matter more than others..."

Warner Bros have just released their first trailer for the Wachowski siblings (Cloud Atlas) latest, Jupiter Ascending.

Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) was born under a night sky, with signs predicting that she was destined for great things. Now grown, Jupiter dreams of the stars but wakes up to the cold reality of a job cleaning other people's houses and an endless run of bad breaks. Only when Caine (Channing Tatum), a genetically engineered ex-military hunter, arrives on Earth to track her down does Jupiter begin to glimpse the fate that has been waiting for her all long. Her genetic signature marks her as next in line for an extraordinary inheritance that could alter the balance of the cosmos.

Arguably your average mind twisting stuff from Lana and Andy Wachowski, then. The trailer is a stylish blend of high space opera, the expected action from the pair and even some fairy tale elements with Tatum and Kunis joined by Sean Bean (Mirror Mirror), Eddie Redmayne (My Week With Marilyn), Douglas Booth (Romeo And Juliet), Tuppence Middleton (Trance), Doona Bae (Cloud Atlas), James Darcy (Hitchcock) and Tim Piggott-Smith (Red 2).

Jupiter Ascending will be out on 25 July next year.

"The closer you are to death, the more alive you feel. It's a wonderful way to live. It's the only way to drive."

At the very start of Rush, Chris Hemsworth's James Hunt observes that Formula 1 is an addiction to "rebels, lunatics and dreamers... the kind of people who want to make their mark on the world and are prepared to die making that mark." What makes men – and Rush makes it clear this is a male desire – put their lives on the line in tobacco sponsored fibreglass coffins on wheels permeates the centre of Ron Howard's entertaining biopic. Impeccably crafted, smartly scripted and built around two superb leading performances, Rush may lack certain subtleties but it delivers broad, riveting drama both on and off the track – even for those who can't tell their slicks from their wets. 

Howard's earlier work reverberates around Rush. His debut, Grand Theft Auto (1977), is petrolhead heaven on a minuscule budget. The Paper (1994) displays a similar interest in the processes of a profession and Apollo 13 (1995) is a previous study of men under pressure in a small metal box. Perhaps the film in Howard's back catalogue that Rush shares most DNA with though is Frost/Nixon (2008). Sharing screenwriter Peter Morgan, both films pitch a battle of nerve and smarts between two completely different figures set against the vibrant backdrop of the swinging '70s. Yet while Richard Nixon and David Frost traded barbs on leather swivel chairs, Hunt and Lauda needled each other at 200 mph, defining not only their sport and a sporting era but also each other, creating one of history's most compelling rivalries, a collision of opposite personalities and philosophies informed by a sky-high level of talent and determination.

Structurally, Rush follows standard sports biopic procedure. The first half maps out the lives of the two combatants mirroring and intersecting each other – butting heads in Formula 3, finding their drives in Formula 1, meeting the women in their lives – until the point they are locked in full-on combat. The second follows the crucial 1976 F1 season that saw the Hunt/Lauda rivalry boil down to the final race in a rain swept Japan. The film cleverly reveals the common ground that unites the men – both come from good stock; both rejected these privileged backgrounds to pursue their dreams; both had an engaging way with the press – but creates almost two distinct films in one to display their differences.

The James Hunt strand is a tiny epic of excess. We meet him staggering into a hospital, beaten up by a jealous husband, and within moments he is urgently shagging nurse Gemma (Natalie Dormer) on a desk. What follows is a tale of pleasure seeking posh types playing at motor racing, until the money runs out and Hunt upgrades to McLaren and supermodel wife Suzy Miller (Olivia Wilde, boasting a pitch perfect Brit accent). As played by Hemsworth, with more confidence, sex appeal and charm than all the 007s put together, Hunt is the hedonists' hedonist, a apparently "immortal fuck" who sports a 'Sex: The Breakfast Of Champions' patch, slooshes post-vomiting with champagne and plays Scalextrics under the influence of marijuana. Like Hunt himself, here the feel is loose, informal and occasionally woozy. The director of The Da Vinci Code (2006) has never been more indie.

Given Hemsworth's engaging and comfortable charisma, it would be easy for Rush to dip when it cuts to the more analytical, anti-social Lauda. Yet Howard has finely calibrated his machine. The Niki Lauda strand is an unpopular, "rat faced" man versus the world story, a study in a different kind of confidence. Daniel Brühl's Lauda is a coiled spring of pragmatism and unremitting bluntness, not afraid to dub the Ferrari a "shit box" or dob Hunt's non-regulation car into the officials. "Are you never not an arsehole?" his teammate Clay Regazzoni (an amiable Pierfrancesco Favino) asks him, and his entire actions, from refusing to celebrate his victories or delivering perhaps the least romantic marriage proposal in cinematic history, bear this out. "Happiness is the enemy," he tells new wife Marlene (an effective Alexandra Maria Lara). "It weakens you." It's Brühl's gradual revelation of Lauda's vulnerability that gives the film its soul. You may go in rooting for Hunt, but you'll come out moved by Lauda.

Rush can't swerve the usual sports movie staples – montages, TV commentary to keep you up to speed – but finds fresh ways to energise the racing sequences. On the track, Howard goes full Raging Bull, using every cinematic trick in the book to heighten the sense of flying around a Formula 1 circuit at breakneck speed. Working with Danny Boyle's cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle, the director leaves no stone unturned in finding places to put a camera; placing the lens on gear knobs, under foot pedals, inside helmets and even follows the drill into the wheel during a pit stop. If the images don't propel the action fast enough, Howard uses clever sound design and pounding music (from Gimme Some Lovin' to Hans Zimmer's guitar stylings) to put you in the slipstream. The result is far more immersive than any 3D effect you can imagine, and makes The Fast And The Furious (2001) look like Driving Miss Daisy (1989).

Yet the full throttle thrills are tempered by a sobering subtext. The spectre of death hovers over Rush like Dod Mantle's heavily filtered rain clouds. The portents builds chillingly – a fan asks Lauda to date an autograph in case it's his last race, an argument during a drivers' meeting about safety could have easily been ripped straight out of Senna (2010) – until Lauda's ultimately horrific crash at the Nürburgring, the camera diving headlong into the flames, the soundtrack heavy with melting sounds. Equally his subsequent convalescence is parlayed with unblinking grimness, the '70s procedures used to hoover his lungs coming on like an implement of Medieval torture. Mark Coulier's intricate burnt-skin prosthetics also deserve special mention.

It's by no means a perfect film though. Some of it feels somewhat overdone – Hunt beating up a Brit journalist for disparaging Lauda's post-accident visage rings false – and a scene towards the end at a private airport works too hard to spell out the theme. Still, unlike many modern filmmakers, you always feel like you are in safe hands with Howard. As with his previous outing of real-life heroism in Apollo 13, he keeps things satisfying to the end, even if you know the outcome of the final race. By the time we reach the obligatory closing real-life footage relayed in jazzy split screen, Rush will make you pine for a more character filled, glamorous era of sport. The film also captures the point where sponsorship and TV are about to go haywire, but more importantly, it has replaced interest in cars careering round a track with fascination in two extraordinary lives.

Like Hunt, it is sexy, funny and full of thrill rides. Like Lauda, it is intelligent, occasionally blunt, but ultimately touching. Laurel wreaths and champagne for everyone.

Dexter Fletcher set to direct Freddie Mercury biopic

The Freddie Mercury biopic has been through some choppy development waters recently, with talent both in front of and behind the camera attached and then gone. Finally there is a pleasant surprise to report, with word that Sunshine On Leith's (2013) Dexter Fletcher has made a deal to direct, with Ben Whishaw (Skyfall) locked in as Mercury.

GK Films' Graham King has been trying to get this one made for years, staying the course even as Sacha Baron Cohen became involved, only to part company with the project over a dispute with the surviving members of Queen about the tone of the film. Cohen's Les Misérables (2012) director Tom Hooper was briefly associated with the film and since Cohen left, even Daniel Radcliffe was rumoured to be involved, a suggestion the actor himself shot down.

Now however, Fletcher, who also made the cracking Wild Bill (2011) as his directing debut, is the man for the gig, having had several meetings with Brian May and the rest of Queen to start figuring out how to tackle the film. It will focus on the formative years of the band and culminating with the famous, stadium packed performance at 1985's Live Aid event. Whishaw could potentially be a great choice as Freddie, and Fletcher's presence gives us that much more hope for something special. 

Latest one sheet for Nymphomaniac gets down to business

If you were expecting the marketing campaign for Lars von Trier's (Meloncholia) Nymphomaniac to suddenly become coy? You’re sadly mistaken. Following on from the consignment of brilliant one sheets that saw the main cast lost in the heat of the moment, this latest poster that finds Charlotte Gainsbourg (21 Grams) trying to enjoy a relaxing read and a tasty apple while Shia LaBeouf (Lawless) prepares to practise his linguistic skills on her nether regions.

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 and Shia LaBeouf are 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 featured in the somewhat fruity campaign.

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

Latest stills and trailer for 300: Rise Of An Empire lands online

Warner Bros have just released these latest stills and theatrical trailer for Noam Murro's 300: Rise Of An Empire.

Clearly taking a cue from the ramped up action, glorious sweeping vistas, oily six-packs and beautiful woman approach in Zack Snyder's 300 (2006), the focus this time around is more on epic aquatic battles, than bloody dusty sand scraps. "The challenges are numerous in a sense that as technology develops, what happens is we shot this entire movie dry, meaning there was no water involved," Murro tells MTV. "You are really in a situation that you have to create a sense that the boats are really moving and sense that they are really in water, but they're not. It's a challenge from a technological point of view, from a visual point of view, also for the actors and also for me in terms of trying to simulate what that would feel like."

With warrior King Leonidas and his brave soldiers now dead, we follow what happens when Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) swears vengeance in the name of the mourning Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey) and takes arms against the invading Persians.

There's also something of an origin story for Persian Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), who himself deals with the death of his father by falling under the ambitious influence of naval commander Artemisia (Eva Green), dabbling in dark powers and becoming the powerful, crazed, gold-coated monster with a God complex we first met in 300.

Naturally, after defeating Leonidas, he's ready to conquer all of Greece, so Themistokles will have to stop him, and that means fighting on the ocean as well as the land.

"If you took 300 and you zoomed up, you get this movie," director Noam Murro told Empire at Comic-Con earlier this year. "It takes place about the same time; it's just bigger and just gives a different scale and scope to what happened historically."

With Jack O'Connell, David Wenham and Hans Matheson among the cast, 300: Rise Of An Empire hits our screens on 7 March next year.

Bryan Singer announces X-Men: Apocalypse

20th Century Fox and X-Men: Days Of Future Past director Bryan Singer have recently announced the next big mutant outing, with X-Men: Apocalypse now on the release schedule for 27 May 27 2016.

What Singer's tweet explicitly refers to remains unclear at this point, but Apocalypse in the Marvel canon is an ancient and incredibly powerful mutant who has tangled with the X-Men on more than one occasion and and even turned Wolverine and Angel into his destructive associates for a time. Of course, don't expect to see everything carried across word for word to the cinematic plot, since many changes happen between the page and the screen, but an evil Wolverine? We'd watch that. There's also the Age Of Apocalypse storyline, which could be huge for X-Men fans, but makes no sense at all to anyone else, what with its vast alternate time line.

However it comes together, it all points to the next big outing for Wolverine and the rest, with speculation sure to gear up almost immediately on who might play Apocalypse and how he will fit into Singer's mutant world. Will the Days Of Future Past director want to come back and make another likely huge film so soon after finishing this one? We'll have to wait and see, but the fact that he announced it certainly points to some level of involvement.

Meanwhile, X-Men: Days Of Future Past opens in the UK on 22 May next year.

Walt Disney Pictures makes a new deal for Indiana Jones

Whilst news is arguably predictable following Walt Disney Pictures acquisition of Lucasfilm a year ago, certain financial aspects of the deal still had to be worked out. Now, the contracts are dry and the Mouse House has chosen a surprisingly low key press release to announce that it has negotiated with Paramount Pictures for the rights to distribute any new Indiana Jones film.

The reason for keeping things muted is the fact that there is no big news to relate about a potential fifth outing for Harrison Ford's iconic adventurer, which remains strictly in the great vaults of rumour and speculation. Still, given the company is driving forward with the Star Wars universe, we're pretty sure discussions have been held with major players such as Steven Spielberg and George Lucas about continuing Indy's adventures.

It's worth noting that despite being critically reviled, the last film in the franchise, Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull (2008), grossed $786.6 million at the worldwide box office.

Paramount, meanwhile, keeps hold of all the rights to the previous four movies, and, a little like the deal for the company's Marvel holdings, will keep some financial participation on any future films that are made and released. So it's in the interest of both Disney and Paramount that Indy picks up the whip and Fedora again. Will it happen? As always, watch this space.

"It's just a matter of time before I face those with more power than I can overcome."

Sony Pictures have just released their first full trailer for Marc Webb's The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and in particular our first proper look at Paul Giamatti's Rhino and Dane DeHaan's Harry Osborn.

The film sees Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) more comfortable in his costume these days and enjoying his Spider abilities, along with girlfriend Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone). But his good mood is about to be tested when new villains appear in the shape of Jamie Foxx's Elektro and Paul Giamatti's Rhino, with rich kid Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) telling Peter that he's been under surveillance by Oscorp.

Marc Webb is back as director, and recently opened up to USA Today about what he was aiming for this time.

"I wanted to create something operatic, something huge," Webb tells the paper's website. "And if anything, this film is about the greatest battle Spider-Man's ever had to face. You'll understand and feel the intensity and the overwhelming nature of the obstacles in Spider-Man's path."

This trailer certainly seems to suggest that he's right, in particular losing the motion sickness inducing first-person web-shooter cam of the last film in favour of a more classic style here.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 hits cinemas on 18 April 2014, with two more instalments planned for May 2016 and May 2018. Expect lots more to come from our friendly neighbourhood hero.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Gal Gadot set to play Wonder Woman in Man Of Steel sequel

After several stalled attempts to put Wonder Woman back on both big and small screens, fans had all but given up hope of seeing Diana Prince any time soon. But now it emerges that Gal Gadot (Fast & Furious 6) is set to play the Amazonian warrior in Zack Snyder's Man Of Steel follow-up.

Wonder Woman is the third of DC Comics' Big Three stars along with the Batman and Superman. Hailing from the island of Themyscria, which is entirely populated by women, she originally headed to the mainland after a World War II pilot called Steve Trevor crashed on the island (her first appearance came in issue #8 of All Star Comics in 1941, right in the middle of the War).

Her powers include super-strength and speed, flight and enhanced senses – so she's more a Superman than a Batman on the ability scale. She also has a lasso of truth that compels anyone caught in it to be honest, bulletproof bracelets, a tiara that doubles as a throwing weapon, sometimes a magical sword and occasionally an invisible plane.

Gadot, who's best known for her role as Gisele in both Fast Five (2011) and Fast & Furious 6 (2013) also appeared in Knight And Day (2010) and Date Night (2010). She certainly ticks the hot and brunette boxes on the casting must haves, so we look forward to seeing what she does with the role opposite Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck.

Snyder said of the news that, "Wonder Woman is arguably one of the most powerful female characters of all time and a fan favorite in the DC Universe. Not only is Gal an amazing actress, but she also has that magical quality that makes her perfect for the role. We look forward to audiences discovering Gal in the first feature film incarnation of this beloved character."

Gadot's casting news appears to confirm general suspicion that Warner Bros is building towards a Justice League movie to match against Marvel's Avengers. Now all they need to do is build in Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Martian Manhunter and the Flash.

Batman Vs. Superman, or whatever it ends up being called, is scheduled for a crowded marketplace slot in summer 2015, with a US release date already set for 17 July that year.

"People of Pompeii... let the games begin!"

Sony's TriStar Pictures have just released their first full trailer for Paul W.S. Anderson's epic Pompeii.

The film sees Game Of Thrones' Kit Harington as Milo, a Celtic slave gladiator who must rescue not only his best pal and fellow gladiator (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), but also the young woman he loves, Cassia (Emily Browning), when Vesuvius erupts and begins to bury the shining Roman city of Pompeii under ash and debris. There's just one other issue when it comes to Cassia and Milo's happiness - she's already been promised to Kiefer Sutherland's malevolent roman senator.

Sutherland in particular seems to relish the idea of a big film after years spent as Jack Bauer on 24. "It's been a long time since I did a movie this big in scope," he recently told US Today. "There are amazing computer effects, but only a third of the set was green screen. The rest was huge props, big sets, elaborate costumes, which I love."

He also sees the relevance of the underlying disaster movie elements: "Pompeii is unbelievably relevant. I've seen more natural disasters in the last five years than I have in my entire life. The film isn't a history lesson, but it raises real issues that I think are worth discussing. It could happen again."

He doesn't show up much in this trailer though, which is more focused on Milo's misadventures and what most people will be turning up for - big shots of the infamous volcano raining fire and brimstone on the Romans. History will likely take second place to big set pieces and the central love story though, and it will also remain to be seen whether Anderson can rein in the over the top tendencies that brought us The Three Musketeers (2011).

With Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Killer Elite), Carrie-Anne Moss (Disturbia), Jared Harris (Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows) and Jessica Lucas (Clovefield) ready to dodge the deluge of ash, Pompeii arrives on these shores on 30 April.

New trailer for George Clooney's The Monuments Men arrives online

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 just released their latest trailer.

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.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

New The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug production diary

With The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug practically close enough to touch, a brand new production diary has arrived courtesy of Peter Jackson and his sprawling team of Middle-earth-movers, shot across several months as they were beavering away at different points of the film's production.

We're treated to the usual variety of behind the scenes peeks, including Martin Freeman proving to be a champ at table tennis, the dwarves mocking each other (as usual), glances into various post-production offices (with all chances to see Smaug obscured for those waiting to see him in the film), a look at how the pick-up shooting has been filling in key scenes, plus plenty of nonsense from the usual suspects.

Stephen Fry makes an appearance talking about the Master of Lake-Town and there's even a brief shot of a certain Benedict Cumberbatch (Smaug).

The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug arrives in cinemas on 13 December.

Five new The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug clips arrive online

With just a matter of days before The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug lands on our screens, Warner Bros are clearly keen to keep the marketing machine rolling with these latest clips.

The film continues Bilbo (Martin Freeman) and the dwarf company's journey to the Smaug ruled ruins of Erebor as our pint-sized heroes (along with Ian McKellen's Gandalf) meet new potential allies and continue to flee from the Orc villains.

Those who have seen The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) will have already met the main gang, so the fun here will be encountering new and old (or should that be future?) friends – such as Evangeline Lilly's warrior elf Tauriel, Lee Pace's Elvenking Thranduil and Orlando Bloom's ever athletic Legolas.

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

"How do you share your life with somebody?"

Warner Bros has just released their latest trailer for Spike Jonze's (Adaptation) Her, all scored to Arcade Fire's reflective Supersymmetry.

Written and directed by Jonze, this unusual and contemporary romance has already been garnering great reviews and even some awards buzz.

Set in a near future Los Angeles, Her stars Joaquin Phoenix as Theodore Twombly, a complex, soulful man who makes his living by writing touching, personal letters for other people. Heartbroken after the end of a long relationship with Catherine (Rooney Mara), he becomes intrigued by a new, advanced operating system, which promises to be an intuitive entity in its own right, individual to each user.

Upon initiating it, he is delighted to meet Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), a bright young female voice, who is insightful, sensitive and surprisingly funny. As her needs and desires grow in tandem with his own, their friendship deepens into an eventual love for each other.

The chemistry between Phoenix and Johansson – even though she's simply a voice here and wasn't even the person who provided the OS vocals on set – shines through.

With Amy Adams (The Fighter), Olivia Wilde (Rush), Chris Pratt (Zero Dark Thirty) and Portia Doubleday (Youth In Revolt) also in the cast, Her is set for release on 24 January.

Ron Burgundy takes over FHM

Sit back in your nearest leather recliner and pour yourself a healthy glug of scotchy scotch scotch, because Ron Burgundy is in the building, sharing a ice cream cone with Baxter and giving the world a devilish cocked eyebrow. When you're done chugging that down, enjoy these exclusive snaps from FHM's exclusive Anchorman: The Legend Continues photoshoot.

This time around, 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.

The January issue of FHM is out now and Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues will hit UK cinemas on 20 December.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Laurel & Hardy biopic in works at BBC

After co-writing Philomena with Steve Coogan (with whom he shares the Venice Film Festival's Best Screenplay Prize) Jeff Pope is not a man wanting for work. That said, he has already scored one job writing the biopic of cinema comedy legends Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.

While the planned 90-minute film is likely to air on the BBC over here, US audiences may end up seeing it on the big screen thanks to a deal with Philomena distributor The Weinstein Company.

Stan And Ollie will centre on Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy's 1953 UK tour. At the time, the superstars, who had made 106 films together, were facing declining popularity and a series of personal issues.

The UK tour, however, was a redeeming success until Hardy was sidelined by a heart attack. When Laurel was offered the chance to go it alone, he refused and waited for his comedy partner to recover for their last few, triumphant performances, shortly after which Hardy died. Shane Allen, controller of BBC Comedy commissioning, calls Pope's take a "love letter to two pioneers and enduring giants of screen comedy."

There's no word yet on who will play either man.

New trailer for The Strange Colour Of Your Body's Tears arrives online

Second slice of surrealism from the Amer (2009) directors, The Strange Colour Of Your Body's Tears has been baffling and mesmerising audiences on the international festival circuit over the last few months. The 'arthouse giallo' feature from the writing/directing partnership of Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani, now has it's first trailer, pending the film's full release in France next Spring.

What you will glean from this is that the film has a lot of close-ups of eyes. Plot-wise, you may also have gathered that it's something of a surreal experience, but on its most basic level it involves the nightmarish psychological journey of a man (Klaus Tange) searching for his wife, who has disappeared from their Parisian apartment, which was locked from the inside.

Tange's investigations lead him to discover other disappearances from within the same opulently decayed apartment block, with flashbacks including the tale of the man upstairs who developed an obsession with sounds from above and then vanished into his ceiling. The building itself, it seems, is the key to the mystery.

The film's obvious love of and debt to the Italian slasher genre means it's on similar ground to last year's brilliant Berberian Sound Studio, by way of David Lynch, The Brothers Quay and Quentin Tarantino, but it's also uniquely its own beast.

Despite playing at the London Film Festival in October, there is no release date in the UK as yet.

Quentin Tarantino reveals his next project is western

For those of you wondering what Quentin Tarantino might do for his next trick following the brilliant Django Unchained (2012), the writer/director went on the Jay Leno show last night to talk about the graphic novel of Django and – as related by The Hollywood Reporter – announce his latest project.

"I haven't told anyone this publicly, but I will say the genre: it's a western," Tarantino said, though he followed that up by saying it wouldn't be a sequel to Django. "I had so much fun doing Django, and I love Westerns so much that after I taught myself how to make one, it's like 'OK! Let me make another one now that I know what I'm doing.'"

Of course, Taratino being Tarantino, he didn't elaborate any further, so we don't know where the film will be set or what will actually happen in it. That said, it will certainly be fun to speculate what his next bloody bullet-strewn outing will be.

And if you were hoping for more Kill Bill? Sorry, but it appears you're going to have to keep on waiting. Unless of course there is radical genre shift.

New stills from The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug arrive online

There may be just under a week to go until The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug lands on our screens, but there's still some time for a few new images from the film. And as it turns out, we have some rather great shots.

The first shows Luke Evans' Bard the Bowman in his home of Lake-town. Then there's the wizard pairing of Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and Radagast (Sylvester McCoy) in what looks like Dol Guldur, the stronghold of the Necromancer. After that we have Richard Armitage's Thorin and his team in barrels, escaping downriver from imprisonment, plus Martin Freeman's Bilbo dangling some keys – in a scene that we're presuming precedes the barrel bound escape attempt.

The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug also stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lily, Orlando Bloom, Lee Pace, Aidan Turner and Stephen Fry. Peter Jackson's directing, obviously, and will hit our cinemas on 13 December.