Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Bob Hoskins: The Long Good Friday actor dies aged 71

British actor Bob Hoskins, best known for his roles in films The Long Good Friday (1980) and Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), has died of pneumonia at the age of 71.

Hoskins' agent said he died on Tuesday in hospital, surrounded by family.

The star won a BAFTA and was Oscar nominated in 1987 for crime drama Mona Lisa (1986), in which he starred opposite Sir Michael Caine and Robbie Coltrane.

He announced he was retiring from acting in 2012 after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

"We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Bob," added his wife Linda and children Alex, Sarah, Rosa and Jack said in a statement.

"Bob died peacefully at hospital last night surrounded by family, following a bout of pneumonia. We ask that you respect our privacy during this time and thank you for your messages of love and support."

"My darling Dad has died," Rosa Hoskins added on her website. "I loved him to the ends of the earth and he loved me back just the same."

Michael Caine, who also appeared with Hoskins in the films Sweet Liberty (1986) and Last Orders (2001), remembered him as "one of the nicest and best actors I have ever worked with".

Dame Helen Mirren, who played the wife of the gangster he portrayed in The Long Good Friday, also paid tribute, describing him as "a great actor and an even greater man" whose "inimitable energy... seemed like a spectacular firework rocket just as it takes off".

"When I worked with him on his iconic film The Long Good Friday, he was supportive and unegotistic," she went on. "I had the honour of watching the creation of one of the most memorable characters of British film."

Those sentiments were echoed by Timothy Spall, who said Hoskins was "an adored man and a deeply respected and admired actor [who] was able to make people laugh and cry".

Despite being born in 1942 in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, Robert William Hoskins was regarded as a quintessential Cockney,

His mother Elsie, a nursery school teacher, was evacuated there during the Blitz and returned to London with him shortly after his birth.

Growing up in the Finsbury Park area of the capital, the young Bob battled dyslexia. He also got into literal battles with local toughs, one of whom left him with a knife wound in his stomach.

"A common misperception of me is that I am a tough guy," he said in 2007. "You don't end up looking like me if you are a tough guy. I just have a big mouth with little to back it up."

After school he started training as a commercial artist. But he gave up to take a variety of jobs, including Covent Garden porter, circus worker and deckhand in the Norwegian Merchant Navy.

He became an actor by accident. Waiting for a friend in the bar of an amateur theatre in north London in 1966, he was handed a script and asked to read for a part.

The audition was a successful one and led to him working for five years in repertory theatre, where his roles ranged from Shakespeare to circus fire-eater.

Hoskins joined the Royal Court Theatre in 1972, had a season with the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Aldwych Theatre in 1976 and enjoyed a successful run at the National Theatre, notably as Nathan Detroit in its 1981 revival of Guys And Dolls.

But his big break had come three years earlier on television, in Dennis Potter's BBC series Pennies From Heaven, in which he played a travelling sheet music salesman caught up in Broadway fantasies.

The series became a cult favourite in the United States and established him there as a star, though he would later say the role of Arthur Parker had been "very painful" to play.

At only 5ft 6in tall (1.68m) – Hoskins described himself as "a short, fat, middle-aged man with a broken nose and a bald head" – he was soon being forecast as a successor to Edward G Robinson and James Cagney.

The connection was cemented with the film The Long Good Friday (1980), in which he played a ruthless London gangster with dreams of redeveloping the Docklands.

Yet Hoskins almost missed out on one of his most memorable roles. When he was offered the part of the pugnacious Harold Shand he was afflicted with a tape worm, contracted while shooting a film in South Africa, that required a stay in hospital.

His Hollywood career was further enhanced by The Cotton Club (1984), though that role too might well have eluded his grasp.

Speaking on Desert Island Discs in 1988, the actor recalled getting a phone call after midnight from a man introducing himself as the director Francis Ford Coppola.

"I said 'This is Henry VIII and you've just woke my kids up – thanks very much' and I put the phone down," he revealed.

Hoskins won the best actor award at the 1986 Cannes Film Festival for Mona Lisa, in which he played an ex-convict hired to drive a high-class prostitute around London.

The Neil Jordan drama would also win him a BAFTA and saw him receive his only nomination for an Academy Award®.

Two years later, he was memorably cast by director Robert Zemeckis as a bumbling private detective in Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988).

Hoskins would later admit to being driven to distraction by the demands of working with an imaginary co-star – a madcap cartoon rabbit added after his live action scenes had been completed.

"You have to learn to hallucinate," he told Desert Island Discs host Sue Lawley, revealing he found himself imagining animated characters for months afterwards.

"There were weasels and rabbits all over the place – I couldn't stop it."

The years that followed would see him take on a wide range of roles – playing Smee in Steven Spielberg's Hook (1991), one half of the Super Mario Bros (1993), a serial killer in Felicia's Journey (1999) and a cameo as himself in the Spice Girls film Spice World (1997).

Bob Hoskins was also a playwright who wrote under the name Robert Williams.

He also took up directing, first in 1988 with The Raggedy Rawney and again in 1995 with family film Rainbow, and became synonymous with the phrase "It's good to talk" after appearing in a British Telecom ad campaign.

Hoskins was offered elocution lessons early in his acting career but chose to retain his recognisable London accent.

"If I'm going to present something as real, I have to cling on some reality myself," he explained.

His distinctive manner of speaking did stop him being cast as such famous figures as Benito Mussolini, Nikita Khrushchev and FBI boss J Edgar Hoover in Oliver Stone's Nixon (1995).

Yet, the opportunity to play Al Capone in Brian De Palma's film remake of The Untouchables (1987) passed him by when Robert De Niro became available.

The director went on to send him a cheque for £20,000, the receipt of which gave the actor one of his favourite and most repeated stories.

"I phoned him up and I said 'Brian, if you've ever got any films you don't want me in, son, you just give me a call'."

His other film credits included Mermaids (1990), Mrs Henderson Presents (2005) and Made In Dagenham (2010). 

Dame Judi Dench, who starred opposite Hoskins in Mrs Henderson Presents, told the BBC News website: "I'm so very sorry to hear this news, and am thinking of his family at this sad time."

His last film role was as one of the seven dwarves in Snow White And The Huntsman (2012), starring opposite Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth.

It was later that year that Hoskins announced his retirement from acting after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

UK film critic Jason Solomons called The Long Good Friday "a great Londoner's movie".

"London ran through him like a stick of rock," he added.

Tributes to the actor have appeared swiftly on Twitter, with BAFTA saying it was "deeply saddened" to learn of his death.

Actress Vicky McClure, who worked with Hoskins on Shane Meadows' film A Room For Romeo Brass (1999), said: "He was one of the best. I feel honoured to have met & worked with him."

Sherlock creator and actor Mark Gatiss, who appeared as Rat opposite Hoskins' Badger in an adaptation of The Wind In The Willows (2006), tweeted a picture of the two together, praising Hoskins as "a true gent and an inspiration".

Stephen Fry added: "That's awful news. The Long Good Friday [is] one of the best British movies of the modern era. A marvellous man."

He was twice married and had four children.

Our thoughts go out to his friends and family.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Official Star Wars: Episode VII casting announced

After months of rumour, speculation and wild guesswork, Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm have finally revealed their official casting for J.J. Abrams Star Wars: Episode VII.

An official statement via reads:
The Star Wars team is thrilled to announce the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII. 
Actors John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson and Max von Sydow will join the original stars of the saga, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew and Kenny Baker in the new film. 
Director J.J. Abrams says, 'We are so excited to finally share the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII. It is both thrilling and surreal to watch the beloved original cast and these brilliant new performers come together to bring this world to life, once again. We start shooting in a couple of weeks, and everyone is doing their best to make the fans proud. 
Star Wars: Episode VII is being directed by J.J. Abrams from a screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan and Abrams. Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, and Bryan Burk are producing, and John Williams returns as the composer. The movie opens worldwide on December 18, 2015.
The return of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew and Kenny Baker will come as no surprise to many, of course, since the first three and Mayhew had already been widely rumoured to be aboard. Not to mention recent sighings of the original trilogy cast in London. And of course it's hard to imagine a Star Wars film without Daniels, Baker and their iconic characters. Likewise, Attack The Block's (2011) John Boyega and Girls' (2012) Adam Driver have both been strongly rumoured for a some time.

Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) star Oscar Isaac only arrived on the rumour mill this week, while Andy Serkis (Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes) and Domhnall Gleeson (About Time) are a surprise, albeit two thoroughly welcome ones. Will Andy Serkis act in person or once again wear a motion capture suit?

Daisy Ridley is probably the least well-known name in the ensemble. That said, she has some pretty commendable TV work on her CV (Silent Witness, Mr. Selfridge, Casualty and Toast Of London) and will next be seen in the Inbetweeners sequel due for release on 6 August.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

New images for The Equalizer arrive online

Following the arrival the first trailer, Columbia Pictures have just released these latest set of stills for Antoine Fuqua's (Olympus Has Fallen) version of classic 1980s show, The Equalizer, via USA Today.

Speaking to Denzel Washington (Flight) and Fuqua on the set, the paper gets to the core of why the star has wanted to play a new version of Robert McCall, as originally embodied by Edward Woodward for the 1980s TV series. Turns out, it wasn't the show...

"The title doesn't mean anything to me. It's the material," says Washington. "It's a classic story, the innocent girl and the guy coming in to save the day and kick some butt. You'll get some popcorn and escape for a couple of hours."

The plot finds the retired government operative choosing to live a quiet, humble existence until he crosses paths with Chloe Moretz' (Kick-Ass) prostitute, who needs his help with some Russian mobsters. Utilising his skills, McCall becomes a vigilante pledged to help the helpless. And the role allowed Washington to return to badass form.

"There's a switch that he turns on and that's just scary," says Fuqua. "There's a sustained intensity even in casual mode, like a panther. If it's turned against you, you're going to be in a bad place." Washington apparently did as many of the fight scene moves as he was allowed, which should lead to some visceral fisticuffs.

While studio backer Sony seems happy enough with the movie's test scores to already start work on a sequel, Washington is somewhat more cautious. "The audience will decide that. You can't make No. 2 before you make No. 1. It's called show business. We've handled the show part of it. We'll see how the business part goes."

The Equalizer will arrive in UK cinemas on 10 October 10.

First trailer for As Above, So Below arrives online

Universal Pictures have just released their first trailer for John Erick Dowdle's (Quarantine) As Above, So Below.

People travel to Paris for all sorts of reasons. It's the City of Lights. A bastion of romance. A haven for art lovers. A focal point for culinary fans. But thanks to As Above, So Below, we also know there are those who just want to venture below, to the vast catacombs. What they find there is... well, you'll have to wait and see.

Adding to the scare factor is the fact that this comes from the Quarantine (2008) and Devil (2010) sibling duo of Drew and John Erick Dowdle, brothers not so far known for happy stories where everything goes right.

The film stars Perdita Weeks (The Invisible Woman), Ben Feldman (Clovefield) and Edwin Hodge (The Purge) as a team of urban archaeologists who head 370 feet beneath the streets of Paris to the uncharted maze of bones below. Once inside, a cave-in seals off their exit, and they're soon forced to explore deeper than anyone has before, learning the true, terrifying secret that this city of the dead was meant to contain.

One of the first collaborations between Universal and Legendary under the companies' new deal, As Above, So Below will be out in the UK on 15 August.

New trailer for Sin City: A Dame To Kill For arrives online

Dimension Films have just released their latest trailer for Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller's hard-boiled noir sequel, Sin City: A Dame To Kill For.

New to the madness and to the monochrome digital backlot process is Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Inception). He'll appear in the segment The Long Bad Night (an original story created for the film and yet to appear in Miller's graphic novels) playing Johnny, a cocky gambler who wins a game with the wrong opponent.

Jessica Alba (Machete) is back as stripper Nancy Callahan, who on this evidence is still stripping at Kadie's Bar. She'll appear in the episode The Fat Loss, set after the last film's That Yellow Bastard.

And once again we have Mickey Rourke (The Expendables) as Marv, whose stories this time (Just Another Saturday Night and the titular A Dame To Kill For) are set before last times The Hard Goodbye. The title story will see him pitted against femme fatale Ava Lord (Eva Green) and teaming up with private eye Dwight McCarthy (Josh Brolin and – following a facial reconstruction subplot – Clive Owen).

Miller and Rodriguez are once more co-directing, and also returning are Bruce Willis (Looper) as Detective John Hartigan, Rosario Dawson (Trance) as Gail and Jamie King (The Spirit) as Goldie and Wendy. Further new faces include Ray Liotta (Killing Them Softly), Juno Temple (Killer Joe) and Jeremy Piven (Mr Selfridge), with Dennis Haysbert (24) inheriting the role of Manute from the late Michael Clarke Duncan.

Sin City: A Dame To Kill For is out in the UK on 29 August.

Jessica Chastain set to go Blonde

Andrew Dominik (Killing Them Softly) has been trying to make the film based on Joyce Carol Oates' 2001 novel Blonde for more than four years now. Finally, though, it appears he's close to making it happen, with The Wrap reporting that Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) is set to play Marilyn Monroe.

Oates' tome used biographical and historical sources to spin a new story focusing on the inner life of Norma Jean Baker, the woman behind the screen idol and tragic starlet. The portrait emerges of a fragile, gifted young woman with a knack for reinvention, who used those skills to overcome great odds.

The book was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, and Dominik was so taken with it that he wrote the script adaptation on spec. After floating in limbo for a couple of years, it was finally snatched up by Brad Pitt's Plan B Entertainment, which will produce the film with Worldview Entertainment.

Chastain can certainly handle a role of this complexity, and it would hardly be her first time working blonde, as anyone who saw The Help (2011) could attest. She has several films awaiting release this year, including Miss Julie, A Most Violent Year and Interstellar, which arrives on 7 November. She's also been at work on Guillermo del Toro's (Pacific Rim) new horror, Crimson Peak.

First one sheet for The Equalizer arrives online

Columbia Pictures have just released their first one sheet for Antoine Fuqua's (Olympus Has Fallen) version of classic 1980s show, The Equalizer.

This updated peek into the world finds Denzel Washington (Flight) as a slightly different take on Robert McCall, the retired intelligence officer played on the small screen by Edward Woodward, who decides to atone for his past sins by helping the hopeless.

Working quietly at a Home Depot, McCall finds himself drawn into the life of a crusading vigilante when he helps out a young prostitute (Chloe Moretz). His actions draw the attention of the Russian mafia, and in particular a brutal fixer played by Marton Csokas.

While McCall could always take care of himself on TV, Washington's version is the sort of man who can walk into a room full of armed mobster henchmen and take them all out in approximately 28 seconds, all the while chiding himself for not keeping to his personal best. Sony is apparently so enthused by the jubilant test screening reactions to the film that it already has a sequel script under way.

The Equalizer arrives in cinemas on 10 October.

New one sheet for Edge Of Tomorrow lands online

Warner Bros have just released their latest one sheet for Tom Cruise's latest science fiction actioner, 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 time loop, Cage finds himself back in time and, with the help training expertise of Special Forces fighter Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), a poster woman for the military, 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 30 May.

New Star Wars sequels to stay clear of Expanded Universe mythology

Lucasfilm have just released a statement confirming what many of us already suspected: the Star Wars Expanded Universe, which has been explored in novel, comic, cartoon and video game form since the franchise's inception, will not be considered part of the official Star Wars canon. The new films will tell completely original stories, taking into account only the previous six Star Wars episodes and the Clone Wars film/series. This means no twins for Han and Leia, no dead Chewbacca, no Palpatine clones, no Jedi Academy, no Mara Jade and no Boba Fett crawling free from the Sarlac Pit.

This might seem obvious, but Star Wars' colossal number of tie-in novels, comics and games are much beloved of a hard core of fandom. The expansion began with Timothy Zahn's bestselling trilogy about Imperial villain Admiral Thrawn back in the 1990s. The novels alone now number in the hundreds, stretching the timeline back 1000 years before the existing films and forwards for decades afterwards.

Many have assumed that their favourite characters and storylines would find their way to the screen in this exciting new era, but, according to Stars Wars: Rebels screenwriter Simon Kinberg, "For the movies, the canon is the canon, and the canon is the six films that exist. It's all about honouring the movies and telling a new story."

There will, however, be a 'story group' created to focus on interconnecting the plotlines from the various TV shows, novels, video games, comics, and of course movies that are currently in development, in order to create a unified universe out of this upcoming rollout of Star Wars content.

The first official entry in this new canon will be the Stars Wars: Rebels series set to debut later this year, but if you want to start catching up with characters, plot points, or entities that may pop up in the next three films, The Clone Wars series is set to arrive on Netflix (including the final 13 episodes dubbed The Lost Mission).

For more on the Star Wars Expanded Universe, check out this official video.

First trailer for Jersey Boys arrives online

Warner Bros have just released their first trailer for Clint Eastwood's (J. Edgar) Jersey Boys.

Adapted from the hugely successful stage musical, Jersey Boys follows the ups and downs of what would become the Four Seasons. Onstage, it's a story told through four sections themed around each of the seasons of the year, and narrated by each member of the band in turn. Tommy DeVito, Bob Gaudio, Nick Massi and Franki Castelluccio (also known as Valli) all take their turn to discuss their rise, fall and rise again. On screen, that has been transformed into the guys talking to camera to explain their side of events.

Eastwood has recruited relative unknowns for the band members, with John Lloyd Young, Erich Bergen, Michael Lomenda and Vincent Piazza taking the leads, but he also has Christopher Walken (Seven Psychopaths) in for support, with a script that has seen work from John Logan and the musical's creators, Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice.

Jersey Boys will walk like a man into our cinemas on 20 June.

New motion posters for The Quiet Ones arrive online

Lionsgate have recently released these stunning (not to mention somewhat creepy) new motion posters for John Pogue's (Quarantine 2: Terminal) Hammer Films chiller, The Quiet Ones.

Inspired by real events, The Quiet Ones follows Professor Coupland (Jared Harris), a charismatic, unorthodox Oxford academic who recruits student Brian McNeil (Sam Claflin) and some classmates to carry out a private experiment to create a poltergeist and hopefully crack the key to curing certain negative aspects of the mind. Their subject: an alluring, but dangerously disturbed young woman (Olivia Cooke). Their quest: to explore the dark energy that her damaged psyche might manifest.

As the experiment unravels, along with their sanity, the rogue PhD students are soon confronted with the terrifying reality that they have triggered an unspeakable force with a power beyond all explanation. As anyone who has ever seen a horror film, or knows anything about the supernatural will tell you, tangling with such dark forces is pretty much a one way trip to crazy town, with added screaming and usually death.

The Quiet Ones is out on 11 April.

New character one sheets land online for The Rover

A24 Films have just released their latest set of character one sheets for Australian director David Michôd's (Animal Kingdom) The Rover.

The Rover takes place in a world 10 years after the collapse of society. The rule of law has disintegrated and life is cheap. The film follows hardened loner Eric (Guy Pearce) as he travels the desolate towns and roads of the outback. When a gang of thieves steals his car they leave behind a wounded Rey (Robert Pattinson) in their wake. Forcing Rey to help track the gang, Eric will, it seems, go to any lengths to take back the one thing that still matters to him.

Michôd co-wrote the story with Joel Edgerton (Warrior) before cranking out the script himself. With Scoot McNairy (Argo), David Field (Chopper) and Susan Prior (Animal Kingdom) also in the cast, The Rover hits US screens on 13 June before arriving here on 22 August. It will also be shown as part of the Midnight Screenings series at this years Cannes Film Festival.

New featurette for Maleficent arrives online

Walt Disney Pictures have just released a brand new featurette for their new retelling of the Sleeping Beauty (1959) story, Maleficent.

Directed by Academy Award® winning visual effects guru, Robert Stromberg (Life Of Pi), the story sees Angelina Jolie's (Salt) Maleficent grow up in an idyllic forest, only to see it ravaged by an invading army. She's betrayed by those closest to her, leaving her heart poisoned and her mind corrupted by thoughts of vengeance. Out for revenge, she curses the baby daughter of the invading king – but as the child (Elle Fanning) grows up she realises that the youngster may be the key to peace between the kingdoms.

As Jolie and co explain, this new take on the tale kicks off years before the events of the fairy tale, as chronicled in the 1959 Disney animation, and then proceeds to re-tell them from Maleficent's point of view. According to Jolie, it's "very different from what people are going to expect..."

Joining Jolie 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). Maleficent hits our screens on 30 May.

"We need to give Americans a figure they can rally behind. We're gonna put a man inside a machine."

With the amount of movie remakes the Hollywood system green lights these days, it seems even the half-decent ones are being drowned out by a never ending torrent of misguided misfires. For every The Departed (2006), there's a Wicker Man (2006) or an Oldboy (2013). So it was no surprise that when a new take on RoboCop (1987) – Paul Verhoeven's beloved satirical science fiction actioner – was announced, fans raced onto the internet to voice their disapproval.

The griping carried on throughout the film's much delayed production. Script leaks suggested a more earnest story stuffed with socio-political allegories. Early pap shots hinted at a redesigned, unmasked robo-suit. And then there was the 12A rating which guaranteed a move away from the glorious ultra-violence of the original. All of which pointed to one thing: sacrilege!

It's a tricky business remaking a classic. Stick too close to the source material and you render yourself redundant, veer too far away and you risk the wrath of hardcore fans. That most of the rumours are true means that this latest version comes dangerously close to the latter. But while it may well irk some of the faithful, it might just win a few over also.

Set in a not too distant 2028, director José Padilha's (Elite Squad) reboot pitches a world where mega-multinational OmniCorp – fronted by ruthless CEO Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton) – has become  a major contractor for the US military. Over in the Middle East, its soldier drones and heavy artillery ED-209 units are helping to 'enforce' the peace, whilst back home, its advanced robotics department is helping injured soldiers to walk again. But despite their best efforts, there's one area of business they've yet to crack – securing America's own streets.

With US citizens unwilling to accept a police force made up of faceless robots, Sellars devises an audacious solution – fuse a real cop with an artificial body. Enter Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman), a principled young detective left mortally wounded after a brutal assassination attempt. He's a prime candidate for the public to rally behind – a family man with a fierce commitment to justice.

But despite OmniCorp's attempts to control their latest 'product', Murphy isn't quite ready to play the puppet – as Gary Oldman's (The Dark Knight Rises) conflicted, Dr. Frankenstein-like creator warns: "Compassion, fear, instinct, they will always interfere with the system!".

Just like the original, the struggle between man and machine forms the backbone, though here the concept is upended. In place of Peter Weller's detached cyborg, Kinnaman is painfully aware of what's happened to him. In fact, it's the dubious attempts of OmniCorp to suppress Murphy's humanity that provides much of the story's morally murky edge. This is also where the redesigned suit starts to make sense. Kinnaman's frequently exposed visage requires the actor to do a lot more dramatic lifting – especially in the scenes involving Murphy's wife (Abbie Cornish) and young son – making for a more easily relatable and sympathetic hero.

That's not to say the titular metal man has gone all emotional. When the visor does come down and he enters 'Combat Mode' (not as naff as it sounds), it's time for business. As in Verhoeven's film, the story really kicks into gear when Murphy ignores his programming and goes after his own killers.

And while this version does feel somewhat toned down – with no melting men or machine gun mangled bodies in sight – Padilha at least captures the action with a frenetic, handheld ferocity reminiscent of his Elite Squad (2007) movies, as his streamlined enforcer guns his way through a series of intense set piece shootouts.

And yet, even among all the big ideas, Padilha still finds room for a few lighter touches. Not all of it works – Jay Baruchel's (Cosmopolis) smarmy marketing man grates, while some of the script's more knowing one-liners feel awkwardly out of place. More successful is Samuel L. Jackson's (The Avengers) network host Pat Novak – a biased supporter of mechanised crime control whose scenery-chewing, monologue-heavy propaganda interludes channel the cheeky spirit of the original.

Ultimately, Padilha's update succeeds because it logically ports the core concept into a future that feels much closer to our own. A few cutesy nods to Verhoeven's film aside – the instantly hummable Basil Poledouris score excerpts, the thigh-ejecting gun holster – Padilha has successfully crafted a smart, thrilling science fiction outing, different enough to exist on its own terms without ignoring or disrespecting its roots.

Zack Snyder discusses Batman V Superman

Currently at work on the still untitled Man Of Steel (2013) follow-up that will see Superman (Henry Cavill) sharing screen time with the latest incarnation of Batman (Ben Affleck), Zack Snyder took some time out to talk to Forbes about his ideas for the film and his excitement at uniting the two veteran superheroes on the live action big screen for the first time.

Naturally, since the movie is more than two years away and Warner Bros has been very secretive about anything to do with the look of the DC Comic heroes, Snyder wasn't able to share too much, but he did talk up his initial reasons for deciding to add Batman into the mix.

"After Man Of Steel finished and we started talking about what would be in the next movie, I started subtly mentioning that it would be cool if he faced Batman. In the first meeting, it was like, 'Maybe Batman?' Maybe at the end of the second movie, some Kryptonite gets delivered to Bruce Wayne's house or something. Like in a cryptic way, that's the first time we see him," he says.

"But then, once you say it out loud, right? You're in a story meeting talking about, like, who should Superman fight if he fought this giant alien threat Zod who was basically his equal physically, from his planet, fighting on our turf. You know, who to fight next? But I'm not going to say at all that when I took the job to do Man Of Steel that I did it in a subversive way to get to Batman. I really believe that only after contemplating who could face Superman did Batman come into the picture."

Snyder, who has images of the costumes on his production office walls is eager to share his enthusiasm for having seen just the outfits brought together for the first time.

"The thing also that's really fascinating for me is that, even just in the tests we've been doing, the costumes, right? You basically have Batman and Superman – and this is without Ben and Henry in the costumes, but just like the stand-ins, just testing to see what the costumes look like. And you have them standing there and they're standing in the same shot – and then we have Wonder Woman, you know, all three of them in the same shot. Even just for a test, you really have to go, 'Wow, that's crazy!' Not only is it the first time that I'm seeing them, it's the first time they've ever existed together on screen in a movie. Even just Batman and Superman standing next to each other... It's kind of epic. It's crazy. But it's fun."

Don't go expecting the director to leak snaps from his iPhone on Twitter just yet, though. "The one nice thing is that, the schedule is designed carefully so that I don't know that that'll be a problem – but who knows, these cats are pretty good at getting the drop on us with these photos. But, when we finally do show it, it's gonna be real fun. And it's true, you gotta make sure – you're gonna want the real shot..."

With Gal Gadot (Fast & Furious 6), Amy Adams (American Hustle), Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network), Laurence Fishburne (Contagion), Jeremy Irons (Beautiful Creatures), and the more recently announced Callan Mulvey (Zero Dark Thirty), Holly Hunter (Paradise) and Tao Okamoto (The Wolverine) all lined up to co-star, the film will be out in the UK on 29 April 2016 before hitting US screens later on 6 May 2016.

First teaser for The Captive arrives online

Entertainment One have just released their first international teaser for Atom Egoyan's (Chloe) latest thriller, The Captive.

The Captive finds Egoyan on typically psychological form, wrapping the story of a kidnapping into something even deeper and darker. Ryan Reynolds (Buried) plays Matthew, whose daughter Cass (Peyton Kennedy) is swiped from the back of his truck at a roadside diner. So begins a terrifying manhunt that will test the limits of the relationships between Reynolds, his wife (Mireille Enos) and others involved in the case, including the investigators assigned to try to track Cass down and the predators who are playing a twisted game.

Set across eight years, the film brings last year's Prisoners to mind with its story of twisting loyalties and clues to what happened while Cass is missing.

With Rosario Dawson (Trance), Scott Speedman (The Strangers), Kevin Durand (Cosmopolis), Alexia Fast (Jack Reacher) and Bruce Greenwood (Star Trek Into Darkness) also in the cast, The Captive has yet to score a UK distributor, but its Cannes exposure should certainly settle that. Egoyan, meanwhile, has West Memphis Three drama Devil's Knot set to arrive here on 13 June.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

New trailer for The Rover arrives online

A24 Films have just released their latest trailer for Australian director David Michôd's much anticipated follow-up to Animal Kingdom (2010), The Rover.

The Rover takes place in a world 10 years after the collapse of society. The rule of law has disintegrated and life is cheap. The film follows hardened loner Eric (Guy Pearce) as he travels the desolate towns and roads of the outback. When a gang of thieves steals his car they leave behind a wounded Rey (Robert Pattinson) in their wake. Forcing Rey to help track the gang, Eric will, it seems, go to any lengths to take back the one thing that still matters to him.

It's another fascinating, complex role for Pearce and appears to be another leap for Pattinson, who has thrown himself into a career working with interesting, challenging filmmakers.

Michôd co-wrote the story with Joel Edgerton (Warrior) before cranking out the script himself. With Scoot McNairy (Argo), David Field (Chopper) and Susan Prior (Animal Kingdom) also in the cast, The Rover hits US screens on 13 June before arriving here on 22 August. It will also be shown as part of the Midnight Screenings series at this years Cannes Film Festival.

First trailer for Eli Roth's Green Inferno arrives online

Open Road Films have just released their first trailer for Eli Roth's (Hostel) Green Inferno.

Roth's gory tribute to the likes of Italian gonzo directors Ruggero Deodato (Cannibal Holocaust) and Umberto Lenzi (Cannibal Ferox), sees a group of student activists head deep into the Peruvian jungle and face the threat of being eaten alive at the hands of a hungry indigent tribe.

Sticking to Roth's penchant for a clever marketing hook, you'll notice that the trailer is at pains to point out that Green Inferno stars a Peruvian rainforest tribe that's never been filmed before. Roth has been keen for everyone to know this all through the project's development.

"We travelled deep into the Amazon, like Aguirre," he told Empire last year. "We found a village with no electricity or running water, where most of the young children and the elders had never seen a movie or television before. We brought a generator and showed them [Deodato's infamous] Cannibal Holocaust (1980) to see how badly it would freak them out, but they laughed and thought it was the funniest thing they'd ever seen, and after that about 80 people signed up to be in the movie!"

A sequel, Beyond The Green Inferno, is already in the works, to be directed by Roth's Aftershock (2012) collaborator Nicolas Lopez.

While there's no UK release date for the first instalment just yet, it's due to hit US screens on 14 September.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

First trailer for If I Stay arrives online

Warner Bros have just released their first trailer for Nashville producer R.J. Cutler's first feature, If I Stay.

Over the last few years audiences have become more accustomed to teen novel adaptations featuring dystopian futures or romances with supernatural creatures, but now it would seem the tearjerkers are coming back in force with the grounded likes of The Fault In Our Stars. If I Stay, however, treads both a fantastical and a romantic line.

Adapted from Gayle Forman's 2009 bestseller, the film stars Chloe Moretz (Let Me In) as Mia Hall, a young music prodigy who is experiencing her first taste of love with rocker Adam (Jamie Blackley). Wavering between her Juilliard ambitions and her blossoming personal life, Mia is cast into an even more difficult situation when a devastating car crash kills her parents (Mireille Enos and Joshua Leonard) and leaves her in a coma.

Caught between life and death in a limbo state, Mia must choose between fighting to live in a world where she'll face certain tragedy or passing on to a presumably peaceful death.

The film itself has survived a period in limbo. Originally set up back in 2009 with Dakota Fanning (The Runaways) attached, it was moved to MGM after a period in turnaround and is now finally ready to hit the screen.

With a script by Shauna Cross (Whip It), If I Stay also features Lauren Lee Smith (Lie With Me), Jakob Davies (This Means War) and Liana Liberato (Stuck In Love) and will arrive in the US on 22 August. There are no details on a UK release as yet.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

"Everything that happens now is in your hands."

20th Century Fox have just released their latest (and potentially final) trailer for Bryan Singer's return to the X-Men franchise, X-Men: Days Of Future Past.

X-Men: Days Of Future Past opens in a dark future world where giant robot Sentinels, originally created by Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) in the 1970s to stamp out the perceived mutant threat, have effectively laid waste to much of the globe. With mutants facing extinction, Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Magneto (Ian McKellen) and others hatch a desperate plan. Using Kitty Pryde's (Ellen Page) powers, they're going to send Wolverine's (Hugh Jackman) consciousness back through time to find the younger versions of the X-Men and stop the threat at its source.

But that won't be such an easy task, as 1973's Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) is a haunted, bitter shell of a man, consumed by the betrayal of Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) and Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and frustrated at the failure of his school for mutants. Can Wolverine convince him to unite friends and foes to face the ultimate challenge?

With Halle Berry (Cloud Atlas), Nicholas Hoult (Warm Bodies), Evan Peters (American Horror Story), Shawn Ashmore (The Ruins), Daniel Cudmore (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn), Adan Canto (The Following), Booboo Stewart (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn), Omar Sy (Micmacs) and more in the sprawling cast, X-Men: Days Of Future Past hits cinemas on 22 May.

New Trailer for Paul Haggis' Third Person arrive online

Sony Pictures Classics have just released their first trailer for Paul Haggis' (In The Valley Of Elah) Third Person.

As a director, Paul Haggis is known for his multi-threaded narratives that rarely want for melodrama or big cliched moments. His Crash (2004) still polarises and now he's back with another sweeping drama, Third Person, that extends the canvas to global dimensions and boasts a cast including Liam Neeson (Taken), Olivia Wilde (Rush), James Franco (127 Hours), Mila Kunis (Black Swan) and Kim Basinger (L.A. Confidential).

Neeson plays a novelist who leaves his wife (Basinger) to shack up with Wilde's character in Paris. For the writer, it's an autumnal romance that could have far-reaching consequences, a predicament that Franco and Kunis's warring ex-couple are already facing in the second plot thread. That pair, an artist and actress respectively, are vying for custody of their six year-old son.

The third element sees Adrien Brody (The Pianist) involved with a Roma woman (Moran Atias) whose daughter has fallen into the grubby maw of human traffickers.

Third Person gets a metropolitan US release on 20 June with no word on a UK launch as yet.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Anna Paquin set to appear in X-Men: Days Of Future Past

In the beginning, Anna Paquin's Rogue was set to appear in the new X-Men outing, X-Men: Days Of Future Past. Then director Bryan Singer said her future-set scene had been cut, leaving many fans reeling. Now, after admitting she was disappointed not to make it into the film... she's back in.

Buzzfeed spotted that her name appears in the credits at the end of the latest X-Men: Days Of Future Past trailer, and after contacting 20th Century Fox to check whether she might be a mutant once more, news has arrived that she will be, albeit briefly. "Essentially, [it's] a cameo," were the words the representative used.

Whilst this sounds remarkably like a 'blink and you'll miss it' moment, it should at least please her legion of admirers (whilst possibly grating others who didn't like her interpretation of the much-loved comic book character).

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

They boldly plan to send Wolverine's consciousness back in time to the X-Men: First Class (2011) era (or at least a few years after we last met those versions of the characters) to convince the younger Professor X (James McAvoy), Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and the rest to work together to stop the threat at its source.

With Ellen Page (Juno), Daniel Cudmore (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn), Halle Berry (Cloud Atlas), Shawn Ashmore (The Ruins) and others back, including most of the First Class cast, X-Men: Days Of Future Past is out on 22 May.

Flash Gordon set for a reboot

After several years of varying development hells, and a short lived Sci-Fi Channel TV series in 2008, it looks as though the pulp space hero is in the initial stages of a journey back to the big screen. Whilst their source is unclear, the impetuous boys (and girl) at Film Divider believe that JD Payne and Patrick McKay, currently at work on the next modern Star Trek outing, are also writing an ambitious new Flash Gordon adventure.

Flash Gordon made his debut in newspaper comic strips drawn by Alex Raymond in the early 1930s, and was initially conceived explicitly as competition for the then very popular Buck Rogers. Gordon was a polo playing Yale graduate who, with companions Dale Arden and Dr Hans Zarkov, initially headed into space to find the source of some meteors bombarding Earth. Their first encounter with Ming The Merciless – the alien menace behind the meteors – would not be their last, and their continuing adventures on the planet Mongo would see them also encountering hawk-man Prince Vultan and the rulers of various jungle, ice and undersea kingdoms.

Gordon was immediately picked up for three Saturday morning film serials starring Buster Crabbe (who also appeared briefly as Buck Rogers and Tarzan) between 1936 and 1940. More recently, and perhaps most famously, was Mike Hodges camp and gaudy 1980 movie with the mad Queen soundtrack, starring Sam J. Jones as Gordon, Max Von Sydow as Ming, and a particularly mental Brian Blessed as Vultan.

Payne and McKay's connection to J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot includes adapting the novel Boilerplate as well as their work on the third Star Trek sequel, but whether Flash has a home there, or elsewhere, or is merely a speculative script the pair have developed on their own is unclear at the moment. They also have action scripts Goliath and Deadliest Warrior floating in development at, respectively, Temple Hill and Paramount Pictures.

Their take on Flash Gordon is apparently to rescue him from his current reputation as something stupid but much loved (see Sam Jones' recent turn in Ted), and restore his reputation as a more serious space adventurer.

The world didn't seem quite ready for John Carter (2012). Are we ready for a new Flash Gordon? As always, watch this space.

New red band trailer for Walk Of Shame arrives online

Focus Features have just released their red band trailer for Steven Brill's (Drillbit Taylor) Walk Of Shame.

The film see Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games) play Meghan Miles, an aspiring Los Angeles TV news anchor who loses the audition for her dream job. Crushed, the usually sedate, professional woman agrees to go out with her friends for an uncharacteristic night of partying. After an unsatisfying time at a club, she drunkenly meets and goes home with a stranger (James Marsden) and awakens the next morning in his bed to a phone message from her agent telling her the job is hers, if she can make it across town by 17:00.

Stranded in an unknown area with no purse, no working phone, and no car, she embarks on a series of misadventures as she races to the most important job interview of her life. Can she make it in time while constantly being mistaken for a prostitute? And will she still get the gig when her potential new boss sees her splashed across the TV news headlines during her crazed dash?

It's a quest film with just a dash of bad behaviour, then, and we have confidence in Banks' abilities. With Gillian Jacobs (The Box), Sarah Wright (21 & Over), Kevin Nealon (Just Go With It), Ethan Suplee (The Wolf Of Wall Street), Bill Burr (Date Night) and Willie Garson (Sex In The City) in the cast, Walk Of Shame lands in US cinemas on 2 May, but with no confirmed UK release date just yet.

2014 Cannes Film Festival poster and Official Selection

Next month sees the arrival of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival and to promote the legendary film fest, this year's Cannes poster has been launched, showcasing its Fellini influenced shot of Marcello Mastroianni set to adorn La Croisette between May 14 and 25.

The poster is the handiwork of Hervé Chigioni and his graphic designer partner Gilles Frappier, who delved deep into the Cannes' archives and pulled out Federico Fellini's 8½, part of the Official Selection back in 1963, and its star Mastroianni. It's certainly none-more-Cannes, and, says its designer, its understated style is in keeping with the spirit of the event.

"The way he looks at us above his black glasses draws us right in to a promise of global cinematographic happiness," explains Chigioni. "The happiness of experiencing the Festival de Cannes together."

Chiara Mastroianni, the Italian great's daughter, said: "I am very proud and touched that Cannes has chosen to pay tribute to my father with this poster. I find it very beautiful and modern, with a sweet irony and a classy sense of detachment. It's really him through and through."

This years Official Selection has also been announced, which includes several Festival regulars as well as some less familiar faces.

Overall it's a pretty strong selection, albeit mainly from directors who have appeared at the Festival multiple times before. Ken Loach (Jimmy's Hall), Mike Leigh (Mr Turner), Jean-Luc Godard (Goodbye To Language), the Dardennes brothers (Two Days, One Night), David Cronenberg (Maps To The Stars) and Atom Egoyan (The Captive) are all regulars. In fact, Damián Szifron (Relatos Salvajes) and Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher) are the only directors in the competition who are at the Festival for the first time.

Screening out of competition is How To Train Your Dragon 2, occupying the traditional big animated feature at Cannes spot. The Un Certain Regard section will also see the bow of Ryan Gosling's (Only God Forgives) directorial debut, now called Lost River and not How To Catch A Monster anymore. Fellow actors Mathieu Amalric (Cosmopolis) and Asia Argento (Marie Antoinette) also have directorial efforts screening in that strand.

Official Selection

Opening night film: Grace Of Monaco - Olivier Dahan

Sils Maria - Olivier Assayas

Saint Laurent - Bertrand Bonello

Kış Uykusu - Nuri Bilge Ceylan

Deux Jours, Une Nuit - Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne

Mommy - Xavier Dolan

The Captive - Atom Egoyan

Adieu au Langage - Jean-Luc Godard

The Search - Michel Hazanavicius

The Homesman - Tommy Lee Jones

Futatsume No Mado - Naomi Kawase

Mr Turner - Mike Leigh

Jimmy's Hall - Ken Loach

Foxcatcher - Bennett Miller

Le Meraviglie - Alice Rohrwacher

Timbuktu - Abderrahmane Sissako

Relatos Salvajes - Damián Szifron

Leviafan - Andrey Zvyagintsev

Out Of Competition

Coming Home - Zhang Yimou

How To Train Your Dragon 2 - Dean DeBlois

Les Gens Du Monde - Yves Jeuland

Un Certain Regard

Opener: Party Girl - Marie Amachoukeli, Claire Burger and Samuel Theis

Amour Fou - Jessica Hausner

Bird People - Pascale Ferran

The Blue Room - Mathieu Amalric

Charlie's Country - Rolf de Heer

A Girl At My Door - July Jung

Eleanor Rigby - Ned Benson

Fantasia - Wang Chao

Force Majeure - Ruben Ostlund

Harcheck Mi Headro - Keren Yedaya

Hermosa Juventud - Jaime Rosales

Incompresa - Asia Argento

Jauja - Lisandro Alonso

Lost River - Ryan Gosling

Run - Philippe Lacote

Salt Of The Earth - Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado

Snow In Paradise - Andrew Hulme

Titli - Kanu Behl

Xenia - Panos Koutras

Midnight Screenings

The Rover - David Michod

The Salvation - Kristian Levring

The Target - Yoon Hong-seung

Special Screenings

The Bridges Of Sarajevo - various directors

Maidan - Sergei Loznitsa

Red Army - Polsky Gabe

Silvered Water - Mohammed Ossama and Wiam Bedirxan

Caricaturistes - Fantassins De La Democratie - Stephanie Valloatto

New trailer and teaser one sheet arrives online for David Fincher's Gone Girl

20th Century Fox have just released their first UK trailer and teaser one sheet for David Fincher's (The Social Network) Gone Girl.

Adapted from Gillian Flynn's bestselling novel, a former journalist and author herself, Gone Girl finds Fincher firmly in dramatic thriller territory, with the story of how the outwardly perfect marriage between Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) has crumbled in the light of her disappearance. With Nick trying desperately to galvanise the locals of their small town in the search for his missing wife, the finger of suspicion begins to point towards him.

There haven't been too many marriage thrillers in recent years, so this should feel fresh. Ben Affleck will looking to bring his Academy Award® winning gravitas to the role, while we're looking forward to seeing Rosamund Pike firmly and deservedly back in the limelight.

It's also certainly perfect Fincher terrain, as anyone who has seen The Game (1997) and Panic Room (2002) will testify. We're promised a suitably complex thriller that even boasts an altered ending dreamt up by Fincher and Flynn, plus a cast that also boasts Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother), Scoot McNairy (Argo), Kim Dickens (The Blind Side), Patrick Fugit (We Bought A Zoo), Missi Pyle (The Artist), Tyler Perry (Alex Cross) and Sela Ward (House M.D.).

Gone Girl is due for release 3 October.

International trailer for Homesman rides in

EuropaCorp have just released their latest international trailer for Tommy Lee Jones (The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada) second big screen directorial outing, The Homesman.

Written, produced, directed and starring Jones, the Western drama finds Hilary Swank (Million Dollar Baby) as Mary Bee Cuddy, a staunchly independent pioneer woman who has taken on the job of shepherding three mentally unstable women from Nebraska to Iowa. Between them and their destination lies miles of rough terrain, natural barriers and swarms of threats from unfriendly wagon trains, to bandits and Native American tribes that prey on unwary travellers.

To help in her mission, Cuddy enlists the help of George Briggs (Tommy Lee Jones), a claim jumper she meets when he's been sentenced to hang. Convincing him to journey with her, the pair sets out on their perilous task.

Jones has secured the services of some great actors here besides Swank, with the likes of Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady), Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit), Jesse Plemons (The Master), Tim Blake Nelson (Lincoln), William Fichtner (The Lone Ranger), John Lithgow (Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes), Miranda Otto (War Of The Worlds) and James Spader (Secretary) all aboard. With Luc Besson's (Léon) EuropaCorp providing the distribution funds, The Homesman will hit the US in limited release on 3 October after a festival run that includes Cannes, but doesn't have a set UK date yet.

International red band trailer for Maps To The Stars arrives online

Entertainment One Films have just released their first international red band trailer for David Cronenberg's latest mind-bending drama, Maps To The Stars, which features a reunion with his Cosmopolis (2012) star Robert Pattinson, plus a host of other talented types in a tale of a twisted Hollywood dynasty.

With Cronenberg venturing to Los Angeles for the first time, we're treated to a dark comic tale about two child actors whose lives have already been chewed up and spat out by the sleazier side of showbiz.

The Weiss family is a Hollywood dynasty comprising father Dr. Stafford (John Cusack), an analyst and life coach, mother Christina (Olivia Williams) and son Benjie (Evan Bird), a child star whose career she's dedicated to supporting, and daughter Agatha (Mia Wasikowska), fresh from a sanatorium where she was treated for criminal pyromania. And then there's Havana (Julianne Moore), one of Dr. Weiss' patients and an actress trying to get a film made about her late mother.

There's no set date for the film's release here just yet, but that may change if it wins a slot in this year's Cannes Film Festival.

Harrison Ford discusses Blade Runner sequel

Last weekend Harrison Ford submitted himself to an ever popular Reddit grilling in which, between revelations about snakes (likes them) and David Blaine (spooky), he also shared his thoughts on the long mooted Blade Runner (1982) sequel.

"I'm quite curious and excited about seeing a new script for Blade Runner", Ford wrote. "If in fact the opportunity would exist to do another, if it's a good script I would be very anxious to work with Ridley Scott again. He's a very talented and passionate filmmaker."

Despite painful memories of the Blade Runner shoot he still recalls as the most difficult of his career, with 50 night shoots in a row and almost constant rain, he said that he's keen to get back under the skin of Deckard. "I think it would be very interesting to revisit the character."

Ridley Scott, of course, is already on record saying that the sequel to his Philip K. Dick-inspired science fiction film noir "will happen sooner or later", and Ford's enthusiasm means that a big part of the jigsaw should fall more easily into place. But since they have differed in the past on whether or not Deckard is himself a replicant, it remains to be seen whether the star and director can really see eye-to-eye on a new script.

"I quite understand that everybody has an ambition when they come and do a film, and everyone's ambition may not be focused on the same thing," the actor explained, with some vagueness, back in October. "I truly admire Ridley as a man and as a director, and I would be very happy to engage with him again in the further telling of this story."

For more from Ford on this and some Raiders and Star Wars recollections, head over to the Reddit page here.

"I am a legend, a myth, a glorious tale to be handed down from generation to generation. I am Dom Hemingway!"

Twelve years, as a caption at the start of this foul-mouthed, foul-tempered crime flick tells us, is a long time inside. And judging by safe cracker Dom Hemingway's (Jude Law) anger management issues, he certainly didn't get time off for good behaviour.

Locked up while cancer claimed his wife, Dom has also missed seeing his daughter Evelyn (Emilia Clarke) grow up. And for what? So criminal boss Mr. Fontaine (Demian Bichir) could stay out of jail. So when Dom gets out, he wants what's owed to him. Soon enough, he and old pal Dickie (Richard E. Grant) head to Fontain's French mansion to collect some serious money.

Writer/director Richard Shepard, who tackled assassins in The Matador (2005) and war criminals in The Hunting Party (2007), is clearly at home in the underbelly and has a great ear for filthy dialogue.

In Law, he's found an actor desperate to ditch the clean-cut image, pile on some pounds and swear like a docker. And it's a fully committed turn from the Sherlock Holmes (2009) star – who relishes every morsel of this meaty double-decker of a part.

Frustratingly, Dom Hemingway feels derivative – most notably of Sexy Beast (2000) – with its mix of surreal humour, profane banter and edgy violence. For Dom is just another odious thug who supposedly becomes entertaining by virtue of his florid verbosity, while the nasty little world he inhabits receives some surreal/pop-art trimmings.

There are moments to savour, but Shepard never seems sure which direction he wants the film to take: revenge, rage or redemption? As Dom ponders how to change his luck, we flip from underworld odyssey to domestic drama, going straight in a way that just feels criminal.

Shepard's film is fun but forgettable in the first hour, then slightly disappointing in the final third. But ultimately it's Law's raucous turn that keeps you watching.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

The Sentinels attack in latest X-Men: Days Of Future Past clip

20th Century Fox have just released their first full clip for Bryan Singer's return to the X-Men franchise, X-Men: Days Of Future Past.

Taken from the film's opening, the scene is set in the dark alternate future where mutants have been hunted into near extinction by the lethal Sentinel robots unleashed by Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage). But in their determination to wipe out mutant kind, the robotic warriors have also laid waste to many human cities as their war spread across the globe. We catch up with some of the remaining mutants as they come under attack from the latest wave of the living machines. It does not go well for our heroes...

With the release date now a little over a month away, 20th Century Fox is acutely aware that there is a lot of narrative ground to cover in a story that spans the years between 1973 and the dark future world we glimpse above. To help fill in some of the events in between and show how the situation between mutants and mankind soured so badly, there is a handy timeline guide chronicling 25 specific moments.

Those include the end of X-Men: First Class in 1962, where Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and the rest ended up part of the Cuban Missile Crisis. From there, we leap into events that span a decade between that and 1973, where we pick up the story of the younger Charles Xavier (James McAvoy). There's also mention of the plotline, hinted at in a previous viral site, that Magneto was implicated in the assassination of John F. Kennedy and imprisoned.

The rest we shall leave you to see for yourself, but it's a fun little blend of real-life events and X-Men related news, even including the 'real' reason for the Mad Cow disease outbreak. From the looks of it, the timeline even tries to squeeze in events from other X-movies.

With Hugh Jackman (The Wolverine), Patrick Stewart (X-Men), Ian McKellen (The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug), Ellen Page (Juno), Daniel Cudmore (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn), Halle Berry (Cloud Atlas), Shawn Ashmore (The Ruins) and others back, including most of the X-Men: First Class (2011) cast, Days Of Future Past is out on 22 May.

First full clip from Guardians Of The Galaxy arrives online

Marvel have just released their first full clip for James Gunn's (Super) Guardians Of The Galaxy.

If you've already seen the first trailer for Guardians Of The Galaxy, you will have seen most of this clip already, since it features Chris Pratt as human scoundrel Peter Quill (trying to establish himself as renegade mercenary Star-Lord) being interrupted while nabbing a strange, seemingly powerful orb by Djimon Hounsou's Korath The Pursuer. What follows is then a quick-cut montage drawn from the rest of the trailer, introducing us to the other Guardians, including deadly green-skinned assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana), hulking warrior Drax The Destroyer (Dave Bautista), talking tree Groot (Vin Diesel) and gruff warrior Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), who must save the galaxy from numerous threats.

Director James Gunn has also posted a new picture of the main characters in their prison attire, and make sure you keep an eye on his Twitter feed for other behind-the-scenes pics from the shoot, even as he finishes up some small additional shoot days.

We're keeping our fingers crossed for this one, while keeping our faith in Marvel's ability to marry compelling concepts with good movies. Guardians Of The Galaxy hits UK cinemas on 1 August.

James Cameron offers an Avatar sequel update

Taking a momentary break from preparing the Avatar sequels, James Cameron hit Reddit's Ask Me Anything forum last week to promote a new climate change documentary he's produced, Years Of Living Dangerously. While the questions were varied in topic, there was naturally some talk of his return trips to Pandora, which Cameron tackled candidly.

When asked about the current schedule for the three follow-ups, Cameron said that things are progressing swiftly: "The second, third and fourth films all go into production simultaneously. They're essentially all in pre-production now because we are designing creatures, settings and characters that span all three films. And we should be finished with all three scripts within the next, I would say, six weeks."

As for whether he feels under pressure to ramp things up this time? "There's always pressure, whether it's a new film or whether it's a sequel, to entertain and amaze an audience," he said. "I've felt that pressure my entire career, so there's nothing new there. The biggest pressure I feel right now is cutting out things I love to get the film down to a length that is affordable. There hasn't been a problem finding new and wonderful things to include in the movie."

Other topics covered included his favourite guilty pleasure film (the first Resident Evil, apparently), what he sings in the shower (Ride Of The Valkyries or Bruce Springsteen, depending on his mood) and a question of who would win in a fight between a Na'vi, the Alien Queen and a T-800 Terminator (the game director gave several answers, like any good geek should). For the full Q&A, head here.

"We're not policemen. We're spies."

Lionsgate have just released their first full trailer for Anton Corbijn's (The American) A Most Wanted Man, which has a long shadow cast over it by the tragic death of Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master). That said, this looks to be a fine addition to his acting legacy.

Adapted from the John Le Carré novel, A Most Wanted Man finds Hoffman playing rogue German counter-terrorism expert Gunter Bachmann. He's trying to track down half-Chechen, half-Russian immigrant Issa Karpov (Grigoriy Dobrygin), who may or may not be part a militant jihadist group in post-9/11 Hamburg.

Issa has access to a very private bank account containing a legacy of dubious origin and it's not long before British, German and American intelligence agencies are paying close attention. To try to find his man, Gunter kidnaps and interrogates human rights lawyer Annabel Richter (Rachel McAdams), and things just get more complicated from there.

The film boasts a frankly fantastic cast that includes Willem Dafoe (Antichrist), Robin Wright (House Of Cards), Daniel Brühl (Rush), Nina Hoss (We Are The Night), Franz Hartwig, Kostja Ullman, Rainer Bock, Charlotte Schwab, Max Volkert Martens, Martin Wuttke and Turkish actress Derya Alabora. Frustratingly, while it has a limited release date of 25 July for the States, A Most Wanted Man is still only listed as 2014 over here.

First clip from Hercules arrives online

Paramount Pictures have just released their first clip for Brett Ratner's (X-Men: The Last Stand) Hercules.

This take on Hercules (Dwayne Johnson), adapted from the Radical Comics title, finds him as a battle-weary warrior instead of the usual demigod. But when the benevolent ruler of Thrace and his daughter seek Hercules' help to defeat a savage and terrifying warlord, Hercules finds that in order for good to triumph and justice to prevail, he has to become a hero again – and discovers that the real battle will be for his soul.

Making things a little simpler, the 12 labours that define the complicated hero have already been completed by the time this film's action starts. Shot in Budapest and requiring eight months of solid workout time for the Fast & Furious star, it appears less green screen and more red blood.

With Ian McShane (Snow White And The Huntsman), John Hurt (Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows), Rufus Sewell (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter), Joseph Fiennes (Camelot), Aksel Hennie (Headhunters), Tobias Santelmann (Kon-Tiki), Rebecca Ferguson (The White Queen), Joe Anderson (The Grey) and Ingrid Bolsø Berdal (Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters) in the cast, Hercules will stomp into our cinemas on 25 July.

Guy Ritchie's King Arthur set for 2016

Warner Bros' attempts to turn King Arthur into a big cinematic character (and kick off a new franchise in the process) are enough to fill their own book of myths and legends. Now one of the questing directors who previously tried to bring the legend to the big screen, Guy Ritchie (Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows), appears ready to give it another shot with news that his take on King Arthur now has a release date. Warners have nabbed the otherwise unoccupied tentpole summer slot of 22 July 2016, proving by some divine providence that Guy Ritchie is to carry Excalibur.

Back in 2010 when he first started the project, Ritchie's thrust was thought to be very much based on Thomas Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur, the 15th Century text that assembled most of the popular tales of Arthur (the Knights of the Round Table, the Holy Grail, Merlin, Gareth, Lancelot and Guinevere, Arthur's battles with Rome, Tristan and Isolde and so on) into a single narrative. The implication was that, in contrast to Antoine Fuqua's 2004 King Arthur and Jerry Zucker's 1995 First Knight, Ritchie's King Arthur would be reinstating the magic and fantasy elements of the story.

That version was cooked up in cahoots with Trance (2013) writer John Hodge, before Warners opted to ditch it completely in favour of Wedding Crashers (2005) director David Dobkin's Arthur And Lancelot, about the titular pair's younger days. Dobkins' take got as far as casting Kit Harington (Game Of Thrones) and Joel Kinnaman (RoboCop) as the leads, with an offer out to Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight Rises) as Merlin, before budget disagreements shut everything down.

So here's Ritchie again, this time working with writer Joby Harold (Awake). Whether Harold's approach has retained the Malory basis of Hodge's work remains to be seen, but initial reports that this King Arthur is intended as the first of six instalments, suggests the plan is to work through the whole saga, giving each chapter plenty of running time.

The current release date would see King Arthur open a week after Ice Age 5 and a week before Matt Reeves' (Let Me In) as yet untitled third Planet Of The Apes sequel. There's no start date or cast yet, but Ritchie will presumably get properly cracking as soon as he's finished up The Man From U.N.C.L.E., which is out in the UK on 16 January next year.

Could Mystique be getting her Own X-Men spin-off?

Despite the enduring popularity of the X-Men franchise, it's only Hugh Jackman's Wolverine who has managed to score any spin-off films of their own. Now it sounds like the team behind the latest X-Men outing, Days Of Future Past, are seriously considering other candidates for standalone features, including Jennifer Lawrence's (The Hunger Games) Mystique.

Chatting with Entertainment Weekly recently, a couple of the 'behind the scenes' team talked up their ideas and the reason we haven't seen other single movies.

"There was a regime at the studio that didn't see the worth in spin-offs, and the current people who run Fox understand, embrace it, and we're going to do right by it," says producer Lauren Shuler Donner. "I'd like to do Gambit. I'd like to do Deadpool. We'll see. There are a lot of really great characters."

Gambit and Deadpool, have of course been on the boil for a while as potential lone wolf franchises. But given the general love for all things Jennifer Lawrence and pivotal role Mystique plays in Future Past, she's a favourite target of the filmmakers.

"I love what Jen Lawrence has done with her, and I feel like because she is in such a crowded ensemble, there's so much more opportunity if you were to follow her solo," is how Future Past writer/producer Simon Kinberg puts it.

So far, there is no active development on a Mystique film, and the focus so far is clearly on X-Men: Apocalypse for 2016 and the new Wolverine film scheduled for 2017. But if Days Of Future Past is the success all involved are hoping for, expect to see more movement on the standalone front.