Monday, 31 March 2014

Frank Khalfoun reopens Amityville

We last experienced an Amityville Horror nine years ago in the form of Andrew Douglas's remake with Ryan Reynolds and Melissa George as the ill-fated Lutz family. Since then there has been the brilliant documentary My Amityville Horror (2012), picking up with the real-life Amityville 'survivor' Daniel Lutz to genuinely alarming effect, but more familiarly fictionalised versions of the story have been languishing in development hell for years. Hannibal Classics' Amityville Legacy remains there, but the Weinsteins' The Amityville Tapes has just resurfaced and finally been given the green light. Franck Khalfoun (Maniac) is directing, and Bloody Disgusting are also reporting that Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Machinist) is set to star.

This Amityville has been in the works since before all the problems at MGM, and comes as part of the Weinsteins'/Dimension's Miramax deal to revisit their library and produce new sequels to established properties.

Hannibal Classics' Amityville Legacy was going to be based on an elderly Amityville tie-in novel (which has been plundered in the series twice before already), but The Lost Tapes, in its early form, was an original screenplay immediately following the first film and the 1976 Jay Anson novel. The plot as it stood a couple of years ago saw a team of journalists, researchers and clergy heading to the Amityville house and into danger they couldn't possibly have anticipated because they hadn't seen the other nine films.

The Tapes in that title were to have constituted the found footage with which a TV news hack pieces together the paranormal activity at the haunted hill house, but Bloody Disgusting believes that angle has now been dropped, and we're no longer looking at a found footage affair after all.

The original screenplay was by Casey La Scala (an executive producer on Donnie Darko) and Daniel Farrands (who wrote Halloween: The Curse Of Michael Myers), but the extent to which that's changed remains to be seen. Bloody Disgusting's sources suggest that Leigh's role is that of a single mother moving into the infamous address with her three kids. Bella Thorne (Disney's TV series Shake It Up!) is looking to play one of Leigh's daughters.

La Scala and Farrands were both initially down to direct, but that's clearly no longer the case now that Khalfoun has arrived. Jason Blum (Lawless), however, is still producing via his ubiquitous Blumhouse banner, and pre-production is underway right now with a pencilled in release date of 2 January next year.

20th Century Fox sets 2017 date for Fantastic Four sequel

With Mark Millar (Wanted), Simon Kinberg (Elysium) and Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass) all acting as overseers, 20th Century Fox is looking to take a leaf out of Disney/Marvel's book and line up their superhero products for the marketplace. With X-Men: Apocalypse already set for 2016, the studio has just announced a Fantastic Four sequel for 14 July 2017, the next Wolverine outing for 3 March 2017 and an untitled Marvel movie for 13 July 2018.

Of these latest announcements, the Fantastic Four sequel is perhaps the most surprising, given that Josh Trank (Chronicle) and his freshly confirmed cast have yet to even start shooting the first of the rebooted efforts. It would appear to be a big vote of confidence from Fox in the wake of recent rumours about trouble for Trank.

As for the new Wolverine film? James Mangold is already at work developing that one, which should once again see Hugh Jackman as the adamantium clawed Logan. In an added development, Deadline reports that David James Kelly, who wrote the aborted Daredevil reboot and is adapting Dark Horse title Mind MGMT for Ridley Scott, is now on script duty for that.

So what could the mysterious 2018 film be? There are several candidates. We might be looking at an X-Men/Fantastic Four crossover or, more likely, the X-Force project that Jeff Wadlow (Kick Ass 2) is scripting. We might even finally see Deadpool get that long awaited solo outing, but that seems almost too much to hope for. The next Fox produced Marvel project is, of course, X-Men: Days Of Future Past, which arrives on 22 May.

In related Fox release date news, Taken 3 scored a 9 Jan 2015 launch, while 4 March 2016 has been pencilled in for an untitled Ridley Scott effort. Given the remarkable number of projects he has in development, this could be almost anything, though the current speculation is pointing to the Prometheus (2012) follow-up. As always, watch this space.

Two teaser one sheets arrive online for Dumb and Dumber To

Universal Pictures have just released two new teaser one sheets for the Farrelly Brothers Dumb And Dumber (1994) follow-up, Dumb And Dumber To.

And it only makes sense that these colour popping polyester tuxedos made famous by dimwitted best friends Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels) and Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) in the original comedy are being trotted out to promote the sequel.

Twenty years after their last adventure, the film centres on best friends Harry and Lloyd as they head out in search for one of their long lost children in the hope of gaining a new kidney.

Dumb And Dumber To hits cinemas on 14 Nov.

Picturehouse Entertainment have just released their first trailer for Jeremy Saulnier's (I Used To Be Darker) Blue Ruin.

The film follows a hazy character called Dwight Evans (Macon Blair), a mysterious outsider who returns to his hometown angrier and hairier than he went in. Why? Because bad things have befallen the people he holds dear and he's got payback in mind. Proving himself an amateur assassin, he winds up in a brutal fight to protect his estranged family.

"This is a guy who is totally out of his depth," says Blair of the character. "At the outset Dwight is scared, hesitant, regretful and devoid of toughness. I did not have to try hard to locate the emotional reality of that. Over the course of the film, he transforms into something else entirely."

Blue Ruin arrives in UK cinemas on 2 May.

Kate O'Mara: Dynasty actress dies aged 74

Former Dynasty star Kate O'Mara has died at the age of 74, her agent said.

The British actress was best known for her role as the sister to Joan Collins' Alexis Colby in the hit US soap.

She also had prominent roles in the 1980s series Howards' Way and Triangle, and in Doctor Who.

Her agent said she died in a Sussex nursing home following a short illness.

He praised her "energy and vitality" and her "love for theatre and acting".

"A shining star has gone out and Kate will be dearly missed by all who knew and have worked with her," said agent Phil Belfield, who labelled the actress "extraordinary".

Born in 1939, the daughter of an RAF flying instructor and an actress, O'Mara initially considered art following her boarding school education but quickly became a full-time actress. She made her stage debut in 1963 in a production of The Merchant Of Venice, but truly established herself on television.

First appearing in television roles throughout the 1960s, O'Mara came to public attention playing the manipulative Cassandra 'Caress' Morrell in Dynasty.

Co-star Joan Collins tweeted: "Tragic news about Kate O'Mara, we had great fun on Dynasty when she played my sister Caress... RIP."

O'Mara also played a ruthless businesswoman in BBC drama Howards' Way and was briefly a regular on the North Sea ferry drama Triangle.

She also appeared in Doctor Who, opposite both Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy, as renegade Time Lord The Rani – a role she said she would love to return to.

"If you put a much older woman in Doctor Who, they can identify with it," she told Digital Spy ahead of the 50th anniversary celebrations for the show, where she tweeted images of herself with former co-stars.

"I think it's quite an interesting concept and if you remember things like Grimm's Fairytales, the older woman is often the villainess, often the terrifying figure – why I do not know, but often she is. I think it's an idea to be exploited."

On hearing the news of her death, Doctor Who co-star Baker tweeted: "Oh my goodness. Kate O'Mara is no longer with us. Sad sad news. A delightful, committed and talented lady and actress. We are the poorer."

In the 1990s, O'Mara starred in BBC comedy Absolutely Fabulous as Joanna Lumley's on-screen sister Jackie, and in 2001, she made a string of appearances in ITV drama Bad Girls.

More recently she had appeared in ITV soap Benidorm and the 2012 stage adaptation of Agatha Christie's Death On The Nile. 

She also made her mark on the big screen, appearing in Hammer Horror titles The Vampire Lovers (1970) and The Horror Of Frankenstein (1970), but was also seen in Carnage (1968) and The Tamarind Seed (1974).

One of her final public appearances saw her hosting An Evening With Kate O'Mara in London last October.

She published two autobiographies and two novels, When She Was Bad and Good Time Girl.

She was married to actors Richard Willis and Jeremy Young and leaves a sister, actress Belinda Carroll. Her son Dickon died last year.

The actress last posted a message on Twitter on 17 March.

"Thank you so much for your kind tweets," she wrote.

"It's both humbling and completely overwhelming to read all of your messages. Much Love x."

Our thoughts go out to her friends and family.

New trailer for Raid 2: Berandal lands online

Sony Pictures Classics have just released their brand new trailer for Gareth Evans' The Raid 2: Berandal.

This latest clip is officially dubbed The Internet Trailer, reflecting the fact that the numerous high profile bloggers have already uniformly gone crazy for Gareth Evans' punishing sequel. Basking in the 90 second teaser, it's hard not to share their enthusiasm.

The Raid 2: Berandal picks up the story two hours after The Raid (2011), and sweeps Rama (Iko Uwais) into a much broader world of corruption and violence as he infiltrates the ranks of a ruthless Jakarta crime syndicate. Judging by the trailer, the film looks to be even more gloriously violent than its predecessor, if that's at all possible.

Julie Estelle, Alex Abbad, Yayan Ruhian, Mathias Muchus, Tio Pakusadewo, Marsha Timothy, Cecep Arif Rahman, Matsuda Ryuhei, Endo Kenichi and Kitamura Kazuki are all part of the cast for this one. Evans has previously promised 17 action sequences in the film, with the climactic fight taking one and a half months to design.

The Raid 2 fly kicks into the UK on 11 April.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

New trailer and one sheet for The Signal arrives online

Focus Features have just released their first trailer and one sheet for William Eubank's (Love) The Signal.

The film's central premise sees Laurence Fishburne's (Man Of Steel) computer boffin luring two MIT freshman and a fellow hacker, known as Nomad, to a location somewhere in the Nevada backwoods.

After a terrifying confrontation with Nomad in the middle of the desert, the trio (Beau Knapp, Olivia Cooke and Maleficent's Brenton Thwaites) regain consciousness in captivity. Struggling to comprehend the true nature of their confinement, they discover things taking a turn for the disturbing.

It's a suitably intriguing trailer, mixing glitchy sound design with a sense of eeriness and baffled 'fish out of water' horror themes that are so unnerving in films like Cube (1997) and, to a more extreme extent, Hostel (2005) and Wolf Creek (2005).

This one heads into US movie theatres on 13 June with no UK release date as yet.

Ryan Gosling set to produce Busby Berkeley biopic

Director. Choreographer. Creator of elaborate musical numbers. If the name Busby Berkeley conjures up imagery of classic Hollywood, top hats, costumes and a kaleidoscope of whirling dancers, then you're not alone. One man looking to bring the flamboyant silver screen icon to modern audiences is Ryan Gosling, who is set to produce and potentially star in the biopic as the man himself.

The Drive (2011) and Only God Forgives (2013) star is partnering with producer Marc Platt (Wanted) and Warner Bros to option Jeffrey Spivak's book about Berkeley, Buzz: The Life And Art Of Busby Berkeley. Gosling is initially overseeing development simply as one of the producers, but he has an eye on both the lead, and if everything works out, the director's chair.

Berkeley made his name on films such as 42nd Street (1933), Dames (1934), Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933) and Hollywood Hotel (1937). He also choreographed the Scarecrow's routine in The Wizard Of Oz (1939). But his life extended far beyond that, with a stint in the army during World War I and a long career that spanned from the 1920s into the 1950s.

"In an era of breadlines, depression and wars," Berkeley once said, "I tried to help people get away from all the misery... to turn their minds to something else. I wanted to make people happy, if only for an hour."

Platt too has a successful history in musicals. He produced Broadway's box office shattering Wicked and is currently working on Disney's adaptation of the Broadway musical Into the Woods, due out in December. He also produced Legally Blonde (2001), which was later turned into a Broadway musical.

Gosling and his collaborators are about to start meeting writers to work on the project. As well as appearing in one of Terrence Malick's currently untitled new projects, he recently made his directorial debut with How To Catch A Monster, which should hit screens later this year.

The Grudge set for reboot

When the lure of J-Horror (Japanese Horror) was at its height back in the early 2000s, one of the bigger successes was director Takashi Shimizu, who successfully adapted his 2002 supernatural chiller Ju-On: The Grudge into an English language outing starring Sarah Michelle Gellar (Southland Tales). Now Sam Raimi's Ghost House Pictures, which launched with the film, is hitting the reboot button.

With Spider-Man already on his second modern incarnation, we've clearly reached the point in cinema where any franchise can, given a couple of years, be reborn by a fresh filmmaking team.

As for exactly who that will be remains to be seen, but Ghost House and fellow production company Good Universe has Midnight Meat Train (2008) writer Jeff Buhler at work on a new script that will presumably channel much of the same story. In the 2004 take, Gellar starred as a nurse with a curse that brought terror into her life. We're guessing there will be a few new tweaks here and there, plus an embrace of new digital effects that have come along way since the film's release.

"The way things look and the way things are, are very different..."

The Weinstein Company has just released their first trailer for Phillip Noyce's (Salt) science fiction drama The Giver.

The Giver is the latest entry in the young adult adaptation canon, and is based on Lois Lowry's 1993 Newbery Medal winning novel, which means the story actually originates before the likes of The Hunger Games and the forthcoming Divergent.

Brenton Thwaites stars as Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colourless, world of conformity and contentment. The utopia was birthed by humanity deciding to reject strong emotions and by closing off their memories of pain and suffering, with leadership from the likes of Meryl Streeps Chief Elder. Not until he's given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does Jonas begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community. For upon meeting the previous Receiver, now known as The Giver (Jeff Bridges), his eyes and heart are opened to the reality of his world, one that he decides needs to change for the better – even if it means big trouble.

Phillip Noyce is calling the shots, working from Michael Mitnick's script and a cast that includes Alexander Skarsgård (Melancholia), Katie Holmes (Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark), Taylor Swift (Valentine's Day) and Odeya Rush (We Are What We Are).

The Giver is out in the US on 15 August but is yet have a solid UK release date.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Marvel assembles latest Phase 2 concept art

US TV channel ABC has just aired a celebratory one hour special called Marvel Studios: Assembling A Universe, and with that came some glimpses of its upcoming Phase Two projects. Published simultaneously on Marvel's website are these incredible pieces of concept art and test footage stills, showcasing Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Ant-Man and Guardians Of The Galaxy. Possible spoilers follow, so be warned.

First up is Joss Whedon's Avengers: Age Of Ultron, giving us first impressions of Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene) as the Scarlet Witch, Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass) as Quicksilver, and a shot of Hulk and Black Widow by a collapsing building that looks not unlike something from the climax of The Avengers.

Then we've got Edgar Wright's (The World's End) Ant-Man. These four stills are apparently snapshots from recent test footage, and show the diminutive hero running, dangling and generally lurking.

And finally, a couple of shots from James Gunn's (Super) Guardians Of The Galaxy. We've already seen something similar to that Rocket Raccoon and Groot pose in the latest trailer, but we think the illustration of Rocket and Peter Quill (in what looks remarkably like Mos Eisley Cantina from Star Wars: A New Hope) is new.

Guardians Of the Galaxy is out on 1 August this year. While Avengers: Age Of Ultron and Ant-Man arrive next year on 1 May and 17 July respectively.

"I'm Spider-Man!"

Sony Pictures have just released their final trailer for Marc Webb's The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

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 heavily armoured Rhino, with rich kid Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) telling Peter that he's been under surveillance by Oscorp. Not to mention our first official reveal of DeHaan as the reinvented Green Goblin.

Director Marc Webb has also been insisting that the multiple villains angle is more about world building than overstuffing the film and the focus definitely appears to be on Electro in this entry. Given that the third and fourth films are already in development, we're hopeful that means this second entry can overcome some of the plot issues of the first.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 hits cinemas on 18 April 2014.

Pixar developing The Incredibles 2

If there is one Pixar movie audiences have truly demanded a sequel to, it is Brad Bird's fantastic superhero family outing The Incredibles (2004). Good news then if you count yourself among that number, because Walt Disney Pictures boss Robert Iger has announced that the Emeryville based Pixar gang is officially developing a new film, with Bird writing the script.

Announced by Iger at a recent shareholders meeting, The Incredibles 2 will be hitting our screens, though we don't yet know when. Bird is also busy working on his second live action film Tomorrowland (starring George Clooney) which is currently in post-production. Tomorrowland arrives in May next year, after which Bird will hopefully turn his attention full time to working on the new Incredibles outing.

In related news, the company is also starting the early construction work on a third Cars film. Despite a far less friendly critical reaction to both the 2006 original and the 2011 sequel, there's no arguing with the impact the movies have had on the bottom line for both Disney and Pixar. The Cars franchise has not only spawned millions in merchandising, but has also launched spin-off film series Planes (2013) and is a central part of Disney's California Adventure theme park.

In the meantime we will have to wait for any further news about The Incredibles 2. As always, watch this space.

Monday, 24 March 2014

James Rebhorn: Homeland star dies aged 65

US actor James Rebhorn, best known for his roles in TV series Homeland and the film Scent Of A Woman (1992), has died aged 65.

Rebhorn, who had skin cancer, died at his home in South Orange, New Jersey, his agent Dianne Busch said.

His career spanned five decades and saw him appear in TV shows including The Good Wife and 30 Rock and films such as Meet The Parents (2000), My Cousin Vinny (1992), Carlito's Way (1993) and Basic Instinct (1992).

Diagnosed with melanoma in 1992, he continued working until last month.

His agent told The Hollywood Reporter: "He fought it all this time."

"He died [on] Friday afternoon at his home in New Jersey, where he had been receiving hospice care for a week and a half."

Rebhorn had more than 100 screen credits, one of the most recent being for Homeland, in which he played Frank Mathison, the father of Claire Danes' CIA officer Carrie Mathison.

His films included The Talented Mr Ripley (1999), in which he played a shipping magnate, plus The Game (1997) and Cold Mountain (2003).

Rebhorn often played authority figures, including the headmaster in Scent Of A Woman and the US Secretary of Defence in the 1996 blockbuster Independence Day.

The Philadelphia born actor also worked on stage, with theatre roles including Broadway productions of 12 Angry Men and Our Town.

Tributes have been paid to the prolific character actor.

Actor Jason Alexander, who played George Costanza in the long-running US sitcom Seinfeld, tweeted: "RIP James Rebhorn, a lovely man and a terrific actor."

Rebhorn played a district attorney in the show's last ever episode.

Actor Tom Arnold wrote on Twitter: "RIP. This actor was amazing. You didn't know him but trust me, you knew him."

Director Roland Emmerich, who worked with him on Independence Day, tweeted: "It's a sad day. I just learned James Rebhorn passed. Such a great talent and always a joy to work with. RIP."

Donnie Darko writer Richard Kelly tweeted: "I loved working with the great James Rebhorn on The Box. He was one of our most reliable and underrated character actors. RIP."

Actress Frances Fisher wrote: "Shocked and saddened to hear of James Rebhorn's passing. Jim was a consummate actor with whom I had the pleasure to work when we were young."

Comedian Mike Birbiglia who worked with Rebhorn on Sleepwalk With Me (2012) tweeted: "So sad to hear about the passing of James Rebhorn. He played my dad in Sleepwalk With Me. I feel so lucky to have known such a great person."

Rebhorn is survived by his wife Rebecca Linn and two daughters.

Our thoughts go out to his friends and family.

"I'm not crazy..."

It's only been a couple of weeks since the last promo, but Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures have just released their international trailer and two new one sheets for Gareth Edwards' (Monsters) Godzilla.

There is, of course, Bryan Cranston's (Breaking Bad) physicist Joe Brody battling the authorities to find the truth about the big beast his son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), Ford's wife (Elizabeth Olsen) and son (Carson Bolde) and scientist Ken Watanabe.

Edwards has also been speaking to Popular Mechanics about the movie, which includes lots of inspiration from a certain Manga anime. "I think one of the most visually breathtaking films ever made is Akira. In terms of films you're jealous you didn't make, Akira is in my top ten for sure," he says. "My concept designer, it's his favorite graphic novel. We pulled all our favorite moments from Akira and had this library of reference, so whenever we got stuck, or we ever felt like a sequence wasn't inspired enough, or we didn't know exactly how to give it that edge to made it feel as epic as we could, we would always thumb through the Akira imagery and suddenly get a wave of excitement or a new direction."

And he was happy to be able to get the support of Godzilla's creators for the new effort. "Toho was a partner on the movie, and I was very lucky that I got to go over there before we started pre-production and meet with the whole studio. I had the whole tour and even got to hold the Oxygen Destroyer, which is what killed Godzilla in the original movie. They even gave us the original sound files for his roar for us to base our roar off."

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.

With David Strathairn (Lincoln), Juliette Binoche (Cosmopolis) and Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine) also among the cast, Godzilla hits our screens on 16 May.

Sofia Coppola set to direct The Little Mermaid

The long line of fairy tales queueing up at studio doors waiting for their moment in the reimagining machine shows no sign of shortening just yet. And Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid has been a live action target for at least two companies. Universal Pictures and Working Title are pushing ahead with their version, and Sofia Coppola is the surprising new choice to direct.

We say surprising in that Coppola hasn't traditionally focused on tales for younger audiences – her movies tend to delve deeper into adult issues, although last years The Bling Ring did focus on young people looking to achieve their dreams, so perhaps this is simply an extension of that.

Joe Wright (Anna Karenina) – who is busy building the new world of Peter Pan – had been down to direct, with Kelly Marcel (Saving Mr. Banks) and Abi Morgan (The Iron Lady) both producing drafts of the script. Now Caroline Thompson (no stranger to fairy tale stories herself with Edward Scissorhands and Corpse Bride on her resume) taking a crack at the story of the young mermaid who falls for a human prince. Will Coppola make it a darker vision than the Walt Disney animated feature? Given that the script derives from a children's theatre company version, we'd doubt it, but a lot can happen between the page and the screen.

New Noah featurette looks at constructing the Ark

We've already seen a lot of the Ark in the various teasers, trailers and even motion posters for Darren Aronofsky's (Black Swan) vision of the Noah story. In this new featurette, the director, his cast and production designer Mark Friedberg (The Tempest) talk through the whys and wherefores of what is essentially a big wooden box*.

With no B&Q or Wicks in Noah's time, he was left to rely on his own skills (plus, as the footage makes clear, a little divine assistance) to build what would essentially serve as a floating shelter for the fauna that had to be saved along with the few humans deemed worthy of escaping a watery end.

Keeping to the way the Ark is described in the Bible, Aronofsky and his production team crafted their main structure to the same scale as it might have appeared, which naturally impressed his actors, even those such as Emma Watson, who have a little experience with big sets. Between the talking heads, there are also one or two new moments from the movie, but it's really just more clips from the trailer bolted into place. Still, it certainly makes the Ark look impressive.

With Russell Crowe (Man Of Steel), Jennifer Connelly (Blood Diamond), Logan Lerman (The Perks Of Being A Wallflower), Douglas Booth (Romeo And Juliet), Ray Winstone (The Sweeney), Anthony Hopkins (Thor) and Kevin Durand (The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones) among the cast, Noah washes in our cinemas on 4 April.

*If you thought the Ark looked like something from a children's story book, with a couple of elephant trunks and a giraffes neck sticking out the top, think again.

In Genesis 6:15, the Bible suggests the Ark's dimensions were at least 300 cubits (137.16 metres) long, 50 cubits (22.86 metres) wide, and 30 cubits (13.71 metres). That's 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high! A cubit was the length of a man's arm from fingertips to elbow.

Levi Miller set to play Peter Pan

Director Joe Wright's (Anna Karenina) most recent piece of potential Pan casting – with Rooney Mara (Side Effects) in talks to be Tiger Lily – is already causing some controversy, with critics worried about whitewashing what was a Native American character in this new take on J. M. Barrie's Neverland adventures. We doubt there will be as much concern about the casting of Peter himself, as Levi Miller has snagged the role.

Clearly aiming to find some relatively unknown talent for his central figure, Wright has hired Miller, whose relatively brief CV thus far only includes a couple of shorts and an episode of short lived science fiction drama Terra Nova. If it all works out, this could certainly be his big break.

Miller will be working alongside Hugh Jackman (The Wolverine) as the dreaded pirate Blackbeard and Garrett Hedlund (TRON: Legacy) as the more youthful version of Hook, the man who will eventually become Peter's great nemesis. In this version, however, he and the boy who refuses to grow up conspire to take down Blackbeard.

With a script by Jason Fuchs (Ice Age: Continental Drift), Wright is planning a new vision of the classic Pan story, digging into his unexplored origin as the orphan Peter is kidnapped from World War II by the pirates. Wright will shoot this year for a 17 July 2015 release date.

First trailer and one sheet for The Maze Runner arrives online

20th Century Fox have just released their first trailer and one sheet for the latest Young Adult adaptation, The Maze Runner.

The market is currently awash with young adult adaptations. With every book seemingly optioned for potential big screen outings, the studios are looking for the next Twilight or Hunger Games level hit. Here, then, comes the latest title looking to nab our attention.

Adapted from James Dashner's 2009 novel, which has been in development almost since it was published, The Maze Runner stars Dylan O'Brien (The Internship) as Thomas, who wakes up in a mysterious elevator transporting him into a massive maze filled with other boys. With no memory of exactly who he is, and plagued by strange dreams about a mysterious organisation known as WICKD, he soon discovers that he's in a very dangerous place indeed.

Only by piecing together fragments of his past with clues he discovers in the maze can Thomas hope to uncover his true purpose and a means of escape. But with the obstacles ever changing and a surprise twist in the arrival of a young woman (Kaya Scodelario), it won't be an easy task.

With Wes Ball scoring the directing gig after impressing with his short film Ruin (2012), the film also boasts some real young talent, with Will Poulter (We're The Millers) and Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Game Of Thrones) also among the ranks.

The Maze Runner hits our screens on 24 October.

First look at Snoopy & Charlie Brown movie

20th Century Fox have just released their first teaser image and trailer for Snoopy & Charlie Brown: A Peanuts Movie.

There's always a danger when cultural icons are fed into the CG vortex for a big screen update that some of their charm ends up sucked away in the pixelation process. The recent Postman Pat trailer is sadly an example of that. Our hopes are slightly higher, though, for this latest Peanuts outing.

Given how beloved Charles M. Schulz's comic strip remains, the pressure is naturally on all involved to find some way to bring Charlie Brown, faithful, imaginative hound Snoopy and the rest of the gang back to screens in a way that honours their memory and yet keeps things fresh. No easy thing when your competition is a strip that was enjoyed every day by 355 million people and TV specials that have been with us for 50 years. From the looks of this latest online teaser, Charlie Brown's voice and the music seem right, and the animation style is fairly close to what purists might demand. Of course, the real judgement will come when the film itself arrives.

With Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012) director Steve Martino calling the shots and Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) producing alongside members of the Schulz family (Charles Schulz died in 2000), the film is tied to the original comic strip's 65th anniversary, with a release date set for 16 October 2015.

"We have been working on this project for years," Craig Schulz told Deadline when the project was first announced. "We finally felt the time was right and the technology is where we need it to be to create a Peanuts movie that is true to the strip and will continue the legacy in honour of my father. Collaborating with a talent like Paul is a great step forward. Knowing how Peanuts, especially Charlie Brown's never-give-up-attitude, has influenced him throughout his life makes this partnership even more meaningful."

Three new images from Sin City: A Dame To Kill For arrive online

Almost a decade after Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller's original Sin City (2005), Sin City: A Dame To Kill For is finally making it's way to our screens, and with the marketing blitz well and truly under way, Dimension Films have released this latest batch of nourish stills.

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.

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 The Hard Goodbye from the first Sin City. The title story will see him pitted against femme fatale Ava Lord (Eva Green) and teaming up with private eye Dwight McCarthy (Clive Owen and Josh Brolin – one of the new images above appears to be Brolin post facial reconstruction).

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.

Star Wars: Episode VII to be set 30 years after Return Of The Jedi

Given the level of secrecy surrounding the latest Star Wars feature – still only officially referred to as Episode VII – you would be forgiven for thinking that J. J. Abrams and co were planning to hold on to everything about the movie until the day it arrives in cinemas. But now we have an official announcement that the film will be set 30 years after the events of Star Wars: Episode VI - Return Of The Jedi (1983) and is set to kick off filming in May.

Admittedly, it's not an awful lot of info, but based on what has been officially announced so far, it's certainly a big step forward. The shoot date also confirms what had already been reported. But as for that setting? Well, that also makes sense given that we know the movie will follow new young heroes – the new press release references "a trio of new young leads alongside some very familiar faces" – and catch up with an older Han, Luke and Leia. Of course, nothing else has been revealed just yet as Abrams goes through a lengthy casting trawl to find the perfect new faces to star alongside our old friends.

With R2-D2 currently the only officially announced Star Wars character, Star Wars Epsiode VII is set for release on18 December 2015.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Philippa Boyens discusses The Hobbit: There And Back Again

Whilst Philippa Boyens may not quite have the name recognition of Peter Jackson, her role in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy and the subsequent Tolkien three-parter has been a pivotal one. The co-writer and producer, currently talking up The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug (2013) Blu-ray and DVD release, boasts the most inside of tracks on the behemoth franchise as it rumbles towards its conclusion and shared it with Empire recently when they caught up with her.

"I can legitimately say right now that the third film doesn't exist," she stressed before the questions started rolling in. "Pete's cutting it. As an entity, it's coming together. Actually that's not true – we have a rough assembly, so to speak, of the shape of the film and the performances. I am excited, because one of the storylines I care a lot about is the Thorin one."

Of course, The Desolation Of Smaug's cliffhanger ending left the leader of the Company of Dwarves in a state of increasing agitation, with the pressures of his quest and a massive dragon hellbent on flaming destruction weighing heavily. And Boyens isn't promising plain-sailing for the pint-sized royal anytime soon. "Richard Armitage is extraordinary, as Thorin descends into madness," she said of The Hobbit: There And Back Again's dwarfish denouement.

Asked about the reasons for that Lake-town cliffhanger, Boyens explained that as a "natural break" in the story it was "the most obvious place to end the second film". She added: "It felt so natural that I got a shock when the audience got a shock! If you can imagine what transpires next and what's coming, it's quite a huge chunk of storytelling. Not only that, but you enter into the tone of the third film, which is very definitely – as is the book, by the way – moving towards the world of Middle-earth as it becomes in Lord Of The Rings. Some dark stuff goes on."

And what of the dwarves' decision to make that most elementary of movie errors: splitting up? "We made that decision [so we would] experience the attack on Lake-town through the eyes of people we've come a long way with," she said. "We wanted some of the dwarves to understand what happened in that firestorm, that holocaust that rains down upon Lake-town. Bofur (James Nesbitt) comes more into his own in the third film. A rift begins to open up. And I can't say much more without going into spoilers for film three, but it's primarily because we needed him to be there when the dragon attacks."

The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug is out on DVD, Blu-ray and 3D Blu-ray on 7 April. While The Hobbit: There And Back Again arrives with us on 17 December.

Next Wolverine outing to shoot after X-Men: Apocalypse

Whilst The Wolverine (2013) may not have been the perfect outing for Hugh Jackman's Logan, it was certainly a step up in quality from X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009). It would seem that Team Wolverine – specifically Jackman, producer Lauren Shuler Donner and director James Mangold – are looking to give it another slice of the claws. Not really that surprising when you consider The Wolverine became the second highest grossing X-Men film of all time. The film has grossed $413 million worldwide, with $132 million domestic and $280 million in international revenue. And while the exact details for his return are still not officially confirmed, Mangold took to Twitter to answer a question as to when it might be shooting.

Previous stories only had Mangold coming up with a treatment for the follow-up, though he and Jackman bonded so well on The Wolverine that it seemed inevitable that they would team up for another, even with all the chatter around Jackman suggesting he would eventually give up the claws.

But unlike Marvel's current strategy of releasing two films a year, 20th Century Fox appears happy to stick to one for now. With Bryan Singer's X-Men: Days Of Future Past heading to our screens this May, he is also working up X-Men: Apocalypse for 2016, which will probably focus once more on the X-Men: First Class (2011) cast, though nothing has yet been decided. As for Logan, it appears we won't see another Wolverine film until at least 2017, assuming Mangold shoots after Singer as he indicated.

New IMAX one sheet for Captain America: The Winter Soldier arrives online

Marvel have just released their IMAX one sheet for Anthony and Joe Russo's (Community) First Avenger follow up, Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

The Winter Soldier sees Chris Evans' shield wielding hero still struggling to embrace his role in the modern world, despite the events of The Avengers (2012). Here he teams up with fellow Avenger Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow) to battle a powerful, shadowy enemy in Washington, D.C.

It's no spoiler that the shadowy enemy in question is none other than his resurrected friend, Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), who has been cybernetically altered to become the ultimate assassin, giving name to the sequels subtitle.

Along for the ride are Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker) as the feathered Sam 'Falcon' Wilson, Frank Grillo (Zero Dark Thirty) as the gun-friendly Brock 'Crossbones' Rumlow and mixed martial artist Georges St-Pierre as the springy Baltroc The Leaper.

There has also been confirmation from Marvel that Hayley Atwell will be returning as Peggy Carter, though presumably this will be a flashback sequence, plus Toby Jones' Arnim Zola will also be returning, again presumably as a flashback. Joining the regulars are Emily VanCamp as Agent 13 (also known as Sharon Carter, a relative of Peggy's), Maximiliano Hernández as Agent Jasper Sitwell, Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill, and of course, Samuel L. Jackson returning as S.H.I.E.L.D. head honcho, Nick Fury. Not to mention screen legend Robert Redford who will playing Agent Alexander Pierce, a senior leader within S.H.I.E.L.D.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier starts off the summer blockbuster season early with a UK release on the 26 March, and US release to follow on 4 April.

New trailer for Maleficent arrives online

Walt Disney Pictures have just released their latest trailer for Maleficent, the first full length feature from 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.

This latest trailer, which blends several scenes from previous promos with plenty of new footage, gives us a proper look at Maleficent in action as sorceress, warrior woman and haunted antihero.

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.

Dexter Fletcher leaves Freddie Mercury biopic

The team behind the long gestating Freddie Mercury biopic has suffered yet another setback, with news arriving via Deadline that Sunshine On Leith (2013) director Dexter Fletcher, who was attached to the project back in December, has now left the project.

The cause of his departure has yet to be revealed, with the report simply mentioning that he didn't exactly see eye-to-eye with the producers, which includes Mercury's Queen cohorts Brian May and Roger Taylor. We're hopeful he may one day be more candid on the matter when enough time has passed.

Fletcher's hiring alongside Sacha Baron Cohen replacement Ben Whishaw (Skyfall), meant that the filmmakers, who include writer Peter Morgan (Rush), could kick off pre-production on the film. Whishaw is still aboard, and all involved are now looking for another director to keep the planned summer shoot still alive.

At its core, the film will focus on the formative years of the band and culminating with the famous, stadium packed performance at 1985's Live Aid event. But issues have arisen, first between Cohen and Queen and now, presumably, between Fletcher and the musicians, over the tone of the film. With May and the rest holding the needed rights to songs such as 'We Are The Champions', 'Don't Stop Me Now' and 'You're My Best Friend', they have more of a say of what goes into any biopic. Mercury's life was controversial and tough to get right, so hopefully someone will manage to strike the right balance.

Friday, 21 March 2014

New one sheet for Under The Skin arrives online

StudioCanal have just released latest one sheet for Jonathan Glazer's (Sexy Beast) Under The Skin.

Glazer's latest has already spellbound and mystified filmgoers throughout last years festival circuit, with critics citing a visually dazzling piece of punk cinema, packed with enough ideas that you'll need a couple of viewings to dig beneath its many layers.

Based on the science fiction novel of the same name by Michel Faber, it sees Scarlett Johansson (The Avangers) as a mysterious and seductive human-like alien sent to Earth to prey on unwary hitchhikers in Scotland. Her job is to drug them and send them back to her race, who mutilate and fatten the victims ready to be feasted upon, though in the film version it may not be as simple as that. It is not, it's safe to say, the feel-good hit of the year. Filed under 'Darkly Satirical', it touches on political themes around big business, intensive farming and environmental decay. It also reflects on more personal questions such as sexual identity, humanity, snobbery and mercy.

Under The Skin also features some unique film making techniques in an attempt to make the onscreen interactions feel more genuine. One scene in particular involved Scarlett driving around Scotland in a van outfitted with hidden cameras, luring actual non-actor males into the vehicle. It was only afterwards that participants were notified of the fact that they were on a movie shoot.

It's all part of the director's overall effort to place the viewer in the shoes of this mysterious alien with little narrative context to muddy the experience.

"The core of the story that I was clearly interested in was her journey – and looking at our world as an alien planet through her eyes," Glazer noted.

Under The Skin arrives on 14 March.

First Get On Up trailer arrives online

After years languishing in the void of rumours, stalled projects, dream collaborations and missed opportunities, the story of James Brown – the Godfather of Soul – is finally arriving on the big screen. Now Universal Pictures have just released their first trailer for Tate Taylor's (The Help) Get On Up.

Working from a script he had a hand in alongside Steve Baigelman (Brother's Keeper), and brothers Jez and John-Henry Butterworth (Fair Game), Taylor's film charts the rise of Brown (Chadwick Boseman) from his younger days in poverty after his mother walked out, his troubled growing pains period and his ascension to become one of the biggest musical stars of the 20th century.

Boseman is tackling the tricky central job of bringing one of the most recognisable faces (and voices) in the music world to life, with support from a blend of Taylor's Help team (Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis in particular as Aunt Honey and Brown's mother, Susie) and the likes of Dan Aykroyd (Behind The Candelabra), Nelsan Ellis (True Blood), Tika Sumpter (Salt), Lennie James (Colombiana), Craig Robinson (This Is The End) and Keith Robinson (Dreamgirls).

The trailer is certainly buzzing with energy, propelled by remixed Brown songs and Boseman's livewire work, but the film's big challenge will be pleasing the legend's legion of fans. Audiences will get their chance to judge when the movie arrives on 1 August.

Batman V Superman script still in development

While Warner Bros and Man Of Steel (2013) director Zack Snyder have been keen to reassure the nerd rage naysayers that all is progressing exactly as planned with Batman V Superman, Jeremy Irons (Beautiful Creatures) has recently revealed that the film doesn't actually have a completed screenplay as yet.

"The script isn't entirely finished," the new Alfred admitted to Absolute Radio. "I've read a script, but it's not finalised. We haven't started work yet. It'll be as much a surprise to me as you!"

Why, then, has Academy Award® winning thespian Irons signed on for something still in such a state of flux? It would appear Irons also seems keen to work alongside Ben Affleck, so maybe that was part of the appeal. "I think his casting is a wonderful idea," says Irons of Affleck playing Batman. "He's a lovely man and an interesting actor. I've only met him once so I'm looking forward to getting to know him."

So the pages aren't quite 100% locked down, but that's pretty usual even at this stage in a film's development, and there's clearly still confidence in what's been completed so far.

"We know the material," Snyder told the LA Times last week, responding to yet another question about all the fanboy casting controversy. "Unfortunately, the fans don't know the material. I understand the canon. I'm not crazy. I know what these characters need from a mythological standpoint. So, we're casting according to what's happening in the script. And we're hoping that leads to enough originality, enough perspective on what we're doing that you get something fresh and exciting."

Amy Adams' Lois Lane, Henry Cavill's Superman and Laurence Fishburne's Perry White are all set to return, joining newcomers Ben Affleck, Jeremy Irons, Jesse Eisenberg (Lex Luthor), and Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman).

Batman V Superman is set for release on 29 April 2016.

Helena Bonham Carter back for Through The Looking Glass

With new director James Bobin (The Muppets) now in place and stars Mia Wasikowska and Johnny Depp already on board to reprise their roles as Alice and The Mad Hatter, the Alice In Wonderland (2010) sequel Through The Looking Glass is setting up deals with other cast members. According to Variety, Helena Bonham Carter will also be back as the evil Red Queen.

The Queen, who had become a tyrant ruler in Wonderland before she was defeated and banished to the Outlands by the Hatter and Anne Hathaway's White Queen, will return in some capacity, probably causing trouble again.

We don't know exactly what she'll be up to this time round, as Disney is keeping a tight hold on the details of Linda Woolverton's (The Lion King) sequel script. And since Tim Burton's first Alice borrowed from both the Wonderland tome and Through The Looking Glass, the plot is still a mystery. So far, none of the other cast members have made deals to return, but there's always a chance the likes of Hathaway and Matt Lucas could return. The release date is set, however, with Disney Pictures already planting a flag on 27 May 2016.

Bonham Carter, who was last seen in The Lone Ranger (2013), has Jean-Pierre Jeunet's The Young And Prodigious T.S. Spivet set for release on 13 June, and will also be seen in Kenneth Branagh's Cinderella reboot, which arrives on 3 April next year.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

New character one sheet for Transformers: Age Of Extinction arrives online

Paramount Pictures have just released their latest character one sheet for Michael Bay's Transformers: Age Of Extinction.

In a move towards regionally targeted marketing, this latest poster for the robots in disguise revamp showcases Yueming (Li Bingbing), CEO of the Chinese Transformers, in a promo designed primarily for Chinese moviegoers.

Yueming is a character the Chinese will certainly get to see a lot more of. There, audiences are promised additional scenes with Bingbing, a huge local star, in an increasingly popular trend among blockbusters hoping to hit paydirt in Asia. The actress is best know in Hollywood circles as former Umbrella agent Ada Wong in Resident Evil: Retribution (2012).

This latest Transformers outing sees Mark Wahlberg's inventor, Cade Yeager, discover a seemingly beaten up buried Transformer, unwittingly setting the wheels of Bayhem in motion. There will also be some business with Cade's daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz), her secret racing driver boyfriend Shane (Jack Reynor), Stanley Tucci's Joshua and his geologist assistant Darcy (Sophia Myles), while Kelsey Grammer's Harold Attinger represents the film's non-robot big bad.

Transformers: Age Of Extinction will be out on 10 July.

Three new clips for Captain America: The Winter Soldier arrive online

With the release of Anthony and Joe Russo's (Community) Captain America: The Winter Soldier just over a week away, Marvel have released three brand new clips to whet our appetites.

The Winter Soldier sees Chris Evans' shield wielding hero still struggling to embrace his role in the modern world, despite the events of The Avengers (2012). Here he teams up with fellow Avenger Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow) to battle a powerful, shadowy enemy in Washington, D.C.

It's no spoiler that the shadowy enemy in question is none other than his resurrected friend, Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), who has been cybernetically altered to become the ultimate assassin, giving name to the sequels subtitle.

We also find the First Avenger questioning S.H.I.E.L.D.'s motives and butting heads with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and senior S.H.I.E.L.D. leader, Agent Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford).

It all adds up The Winter Soldier looking like a massive follow-up to both Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) and The Avengers (2012), quite an achievement for directors Joe and Anthony Russo (Community) who are reportedly already in talks for another Cap outing.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier arrives on 26 March.

New clip from The Amazing Spider-Man 2 arrives online

With all the trailers, one sheets and featurettes out there, you could argue that we have already seen more than enough of Marc Webb's The Amazing Spider-Man 2. But as the film prepares to enter cinemas next month, Sony Pictures are looking to lift a little more skirt, with the first proper clip hitting the internet.

The clip finds Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) having just transformed into the energy manipulator known as Electro. Still trying to understand his powers and buzzing with the anger he's carried with him most of his life, Max has already caused some destruction in the middle of Manhattan. Now, with police snipers training their weapons directly on him, it's up to our friendly neighbourhood web slinger (Andrew Garfield) to try and talk him down from creating more chaos, even as a worried Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) looks on.

But as Peter Parker attempts to reduce the tension, a sudden flash of power causes an itchy trigger fingered sniper to open fire... which naturally makes things much, much worse.

Director Marc Webb has also been insisting that the multiple villains angle is more about world building than overstuffing the film and the focus definitely appears to be on Electro in this entry. Given that the third and fourth films are already in development, we're hopeful that means this second entry can overcome some of the plot issues of the first.

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.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 hits cinemas on 18 April 2014, with two more instalments planned for May 2016 and May 2018.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

"The choice was put in your hands for a reason."

Paramount Pictures have just released their latest trailer for Darren Aronofsky's (Black Swan) Noah, introduced by the delightful Emma Watson.

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

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

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

Noah hits UK cinemas on 4 April.

New one sheet for Maleficent arrive online

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

The Maleficent marketing bods have so far put together a campaign that's been strong in both identity and visual flair. Last year we had simple, stylish teasers such as this one, and this latest one sheet is no less dazzling.

The story sees Jolie's 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.

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

First trailer for Deliver Us From Evil arrives online

Sony Pictures have just released their first trailer for Scott Derrickson's (Sinister) Deliver Us From Evil (formerly Beware The Night).

Eric Bana (Star Trek) stars as New York police officer Ralph Sarchie, struggling with personal issues, who begins investigating a series of disturbing and inexplicable crimes. He joins forces with an unconventional priest (Édgar Ramirez), schooled in the rituals of exorcism, to combat the frightening and demonic possessions that are terrorising their city. It's all based on the book that details Sarchie's bone-chilling real life cases.

As this trailer makes pretty clear, the horror element hits closer to home for Sarchie, especially when it affects his wife (Olivia Munn) and daughter (Lulu Wilson).

With Sean Harris (Prometheus), Joel McHale (Ted), Dorian Missick (The Bounty Hunter) and Antoinette LaVecchia (Delirious) also in the cast, Deliver Us From Evil will attempt to spook us all from 22 August.

First five minutes of The Machine arrives online

Red & Black Films (via Empire) have just released the first five minutes (plus some credits) for Caradog W. James' British science fiction thriller The Machine. Be warned, however, this footage is not for the faint of heart, and that there's a certain amount of blood splatter.

The film is set in a world gripped by a new Cold War, where Britain is a poor shadow even of its current self. Scientist Vincent McCarthy (Toby Stephens) is working on helping injured soldiers as we see in this clip, but soon switches to work, alongside artificial intelligence expert Ava (Caity Lotz), on the titular Machine, an android with thinking as well as fighting skills that could negotiate peace as well as fight. Of course, with pressure from his bosses to produce a simple, mindless killing machine, things won't be easy. And McCarthy has his own agenda, hoping that his creations can help his own ailing daughter.

The Machine is out in cinemas and via video on demand from 21 March, with a DVD and Blu-ray release following on 31 March.

New writer for Zorro reboot

A new take on Zorro has been in development hell over at Sony Pictures for some time. Antonio Banderas last donned the black hat for Martin Campbell back in 2005, and a reboot has been in the works pretty much ever since. While there is still no director or star attached, we do finally at least have news of a writer. Chris Boal will pen the latest draft, with a view to introducing the masked swordsman to a new generation.

Christopher Stetson Boal, to give him his full moniker, hasn't had any films released so far, but has written an untitled Julius Caesar film for Jonathan Liebesman (Battle Los Angeles), and Viking actioner The Vanguard, which has Alexander Skarsgård attached to star. Before the writing he was a competitive fencer on the US national circuit, so he certainly knows how to swash a buckle.

The new Zorro is thought to be less along the lines of its sun soaked, heroic predecessors, and more akin to Christopher Nolan's Batman films, going 'darker' and tweaking Zorro's origin.

Back in 2012 there were reports that the film would be taking Isabelle Allende's 2005 novel (simply called Zorro) as its basis. If that's the case then the film should give us a Zorro who's the son of a Spaniard and a Shoshone Indian. He grows up in late 18th century Southern California, hating the injustice meted out to the Native Americans. Following the example of his fencing master, he joins a secret movement formed to help the oppressed.

This is not to be confused with a rival project developing over at 20th Century Fox. That one's set in the future and called Zorro Reborn, and at one point had Gael Garcia Bernal (Amores Perros) attached to star. That said, we haven't heard much more since 2012, so its current status is uncertain.

The producers for Sony's version are Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald (Gladiator). Production still seems a long way way off.