Saturday, 31 May 2014

First trailer and one sheet for The Gracefield Incident crash lands online

A new name to watch out for in the world of independent horror, one man band Matthieu Ratthe, has just unveiled the first trailer and one sheet for his found footage debut feature The Gracefield Incident.

Ratthe drummed up the financing, wrote, produced and directed the film, from a studio he built in his parents' basement. Budding indie filmmakers should take heart. These things are possible. "If you want something, you can't wait for someone to make it happen for you," Ratthe says.

The titular incident involves a meteorite strike/UFO crash leading to some creepy shenanigans in the neighbouring woods. Ratthe also stars, in that his is the mostly off-screen character doing the filming. The perennial found footage problem of characters shooting in unlikely circumstances is navigated through the use of a nifty eyeball camera.

Resources were obviously limited, but Ratthe looks to have achieved effective results from his small scale operation. Executive producers – and presumably financiers – include Bryan Turner (founder of Priority Records), Pat Brisson (head of Creative Artists Agency's hockey division) and Sergei Fedorov (ex-National Hockey League player).

Ratthe took the route of getting The Gracefield Incident actually made before "finding it a home" for distribution, so there are no release details as yet. Expect some showings on the festival circuit pending any sort of wider release. While the website isn't up yet, you can follow the film's progress via Ratthe's Twitter page.

First one sheet for Irish folk horror The Woods unveiled

Momentum Pictures have just released their first one sheet for short film and music video prodigy Corin Hardy's debut feature The Woods.

The Irish folk horror stars Joseph Mawle (Game Of Thrones) and Bojana Novakovic (Edge Of Darkness), with Michael McElhatton (Shadow Dancer), Michael Smiley (A Field In England), and several woodland creatures you'd probably rather not encounter on a dark night.

The film was previously known as The Good People, and that original title refers to dark fairy folk The Hallow, feared and respected by locals, and not averse to stealing the odd child to bolster their numbers. Tree surgeon Mawle is given a job in their woods, and moves his family from the city for a slower pace of life in the fresh air. But of course, in the end they don't have so relaxing a time after all...

Still in production, The Woods is yet to find a release date. As always, watch this space.

New Big Hero 6 teaser and one sheet arrives online

Walt Disney Pictures and Marvel have just released their first teaser and one sheet for Don Hall (Winnie The Pooh) and Chris Williams' (Bolt) Big Hero 6.

Despite the films Marvel heritage, don't go expecting Tony Stark or Steve Rogers to show up in this one: while it's inspired by the Marvel title of the same name, the movie is its own beast, unhitched from the comic book company's cinematic incarnation.

"The universe we're creating is not tied to the Marvel Universe," Hall told Yahoo earlier this week. "There's no Iron Man or anybody like that. It's a world of our own design."

So who will we eventually meet in this new world? The teaser trailer at least introduces us to teenage robotics prodigy Hiro Hamada, who is intent on turning his slightly bulky techno pal Baymax into a superhero. They'll soon join up with a group of crime fighters to tackle a criminal gang, and future promos will showcase the likes of Fredzilla, a man able to turn himself into a Godzilla style lizard, as well as Go Go Tomago, also known as a young woman named Leiko Tanaka who uses a power suit to battle enemies.

Big Hero 6 promises to be a colourful romp, focused on the Disney appropriate bond between and boy and his robot, all set against a futuristic city and some decidedly deadly threats. The film features a voice cast that includes Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire), Freddie Highmore (Bates Motel), Samuel L. Jackson (Django Unchained), T.J. Miller (Coverfield), Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids) and Jamie Chung (Sucker Punch). Disappointingly, while America will see the film on 7 November, we have to wait until 30 January 2015.

New Foxcatcher teaser and one sheet arrives online

Sony Pictures Classics have just released their first teaser and one sheet for Bennett Miller's (Moneyball) Foxcatcher.

Though there were worries when the film was held back from last year's awards season, allowing more time for Miller to tinker with it, Foxcatcher is proving to be worth the wait, with critics at the Cannes Film Festival already predicting potential Oscars.

Foxcatcher, which features a script from E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman, tells the gripping true story of Olympic Wrestling Champion brothers Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) and Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo). They're invited to launch a wrestling academy funded by eccentric John du Pont (Steve Carell), heir to the du Pont Chemical fortune.

While it initially seemed like a great opportunity, things turned darkly tragic when the paranoid schizophrenic du Pont murdered Dave, leaving Mark to seek justice. The film promises a very different performance from Carell, who has branched out into drama before, but nothing quite as intense as this. Clearly it would appear he has succeeded and is already being talked about as an awards contender.

Following rave reviews at the film festival, we'll now have to wait to see Foxcatcher, which arrives in the US on 14 November, but has yet to announce a UK date.

Eva Green Sin City: A Dame To Kill For one sheet banned by the MPAA

A new one sheet featuring Eva Green (300: Rise Of An Empire) in a see-through robe has reportedly been deemed inappropriate by the MPAA (Motion Picture Association for America).

The MPAA has not approved a sanctioned release of the new promo for Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame To Kill For.

According to Page Six the one sheet is said to have been rejected on the grounds of "nudity – curve of under breast and dark nipple/areola circle visible through sheer gown".

The site adds, "Dimension declined to comment but it is believed execs are working on a compromise with the MPAA before the sequel opens Aug 22."

Five other character one sheets for the Sin City (2005) sequel were released online earlier this month.

Eva Green, currently starring in Penny Dreadful, is joined by cast members including Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Inception), Jessica Alba (Machete), Bruce Willis (Looper) and Josh Brolin (Gangster Squad). The film will also feature a cameo from Lady Gaga. 

Sin City: A Dame to Kill for opens on 22 August in the US and on 29 August in the UK.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

First clip from Ryan Gosling's directorial debut Lost River arrives online

Following it's premiere at the Cannes Film Festival last week, Warner Bros have released their first clip for Ryan Gosling's (Only God Forgives) directorial debut Lost River (formerly How To Catch A Monster). 

Lost River stars Christina Hendricks (Drive) as Billy, a single mother of two who has to journey into a macabre, dark fantasy world even as her eldest son Bones (Iain De Caestecker) finds a secret road leading to an underwater town. They'll both have to figure out the mystery if they're to help their family survive...

The clip focuses on Bones, who encounters a flaming, riderless bike and the equally mysterious Bully, played by a shaven headed Matt Smith (Doctor Who). The former Time Lord is clearly pleased with his toned physique and seems eager for the world to appreciate it.

With Saoirse Ronan (Byzantium), Eva Mendes (The Place Beyond The Pines), Ben Mendelsohn (Killing Them Softly) and Barbara Steele (8½ ) amongst the cast, Lost River is yet to receive a final release date in the US or UK.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

New trailer for Zach Braff's Wish I Was Here arrives online

After successfully tapping into fan funds with Kickstarter to make his latest directorial effort the way he wanted, Zach Braff (Garden State) saw Wish I Was Here finally picked up at the Sundance Film Festival by Focus Features. While backers of the project have already seen snippets (and Sundance audiences were lucky enough to see the film in its entirety), the latest trailer is now online.

Scripted by Braff and his brother Adam, Zach plays Aidan Bloom, a struggling actor, father and husband, who at 35 is still trying to find his identity and purpose in life. He and his wife (Kate Hudson) are barely getting by financially and Aidan passes his time by fantasising about the fantasy character Space Knight he created as a child.

When his ailing father (Mandy Patinkin) can no longer afford to pay for private school for his two kids, Grace (Joey King) and Tucker (Pierce Gagnon), and the only available public school is on its last legs, Aidan reluctantly agrees to attempt to home school them. Soon he's concocting brand new ways to engage and educate, all the while worrying that he might not be up to the new challenges in his life.

Braff has recruited a solid cast beyond those listed above, with Josh Gad (Frozen), Donald Faison (Scrubs), Michael Weston (Garden State), Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory) and Ashley Greene (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn) all on board.

Wish I Was Here arrives on UK screens on 19 September.

"I'll never be like other people, but that's alright, because I'm a bear. A bear called Paddington."

Following a PG certificate that put the fur in furore, you might have been forgiven for thinking that the big screen debut of Michael Bond's beloved bear, Paddington, was set to corrupt the minds of a nation. Far from it. An exceedingly family friendly film about an exceedingly friendly family, Paul King's (Bunny And The Bull) movie is exceedingly family friendly, as well as a Pixar level of delight that is whimsically British, and one of the year's most pleasant surprises.

From the off, it is clear that we are in safe hands with King, here making only his second movie five years after his first, Bunny And The Bull (2009). That belied its micro-budget to boast a level of visual invention and wit honed on the likes of The Mighty Boosh, and which is evident within seconds of the prologue, a jaunty and very funny Pathé newsreel style showing how a stiff upper lipped explorer (Tim Downie) heads to Darkest Peru and encounters a rare form of bear.

Having successfully taught them how to speak the Queen's English and introduced them to the joy of marmalade, we jump forward in time, from grainy black and white to glorious technicolour, and meet the eponymous star of the show. A bouncing ball of fur, brought memorably to life by a combination of Framestore's excellent digital effects and Ben Whishaw's (Skyfall) excellent, epitome of innocence vocal performance, lives in bliss with his Uncle Pastuzo (Michael Gambon) and Aunt Lucy (Imelda Staunton), bounding around the jungle and mainlining marmalade sandwiches.

All is calm, until a sudden earthquake – in a sequence that conjures memories of Bambi (1942), and which may have prompted those bear haters at the BBFC to upgrade it from a U – puts the dark in darkest Peru, and forces our bereaved hero to head to London. It is a city he has heard of only on the explorer's wax cylinders, and in his dreams it is a city where the streets are paved with hugs, and where he is confident that the kindness of strangers will soon see him safely installed in a warm, loving home.

But Bond (who cameos briefly, lifting a glass of red wine to his creation) first wrote his long-running series in 1958, with the memory of World War II and its mass relocation of children from their families to new homes in the country, still burning bright. It was, obviously, a very different time, and a very different London, and King immediately nails the way things have changed as our polite hero arrives at Paddington station, and is roundly ignored by cold eyed commuters too wrapped up in themselves to notice that there is a talking bear in their midst.

Soon, though, our bear meets, intrigues and wins over a passing family, the Browns, in a lovely scene that further showcases King's gorgeous visual wit (watch the Lost & Found sign) and ability to move the audience with just a few gentle flourishes. Quickly given his English name by Sally Hawkins' (Blue Jasmine) kindly Mrs Brown, the Browns take Paddington in for a night, just long enough for their new house guest to both wreak havoc and intrigue them with tales of the long lost explorer.

Thus the stage is set for a boundlessly inventive film that is part origin tale, as Paddington slowly gathers the accoutrements of his costume in a manner that recalls Clint Eastwood in The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (1966), and part inventive adventure as Paddington tries to track down the explorer, while gradually bringing out the best in the Browns. In particular, Hugh Bonneville (The Monuments Men) is enormously enjoyable as Mr. Brown, a risk analyst who gradually thaws from uptight starched shirt to devil may care dashing hero, ready to – in arguably the film's funniest scene, and almost certainly the one that should have bagged it an 18 certificate – infiltrate a shadowy organisation's HQ by donning drag and flirting haplessly with Simon Farnaby's (Bunny And The Bull) gloriously sleazy security guard.

Farnaby is just one of King's many former subjects who crop up in small roles, including Alice Lowe and Steve Oram (Sightseers) – an indication that King's sensibilities remain intact despite the step up to a much larger budget and a much bigger canvas. It is to producer David Heyman's credit that he appears to have let his director, a lifelong Paddington fan, do his thing, crafting a beguiling concoction of magical realism – it is a world where the presence of a talking bear is not weird in the slightest – slightly surreal storybook visuals and a sense of wonder, reflected in Paddington's big brown eyes, that make you wish that King could have been let loose on Heyman's previous concern, the Harry Potter movies.

It is also a love letter to London itself. Of course, there is the usual ticking-off of picture postcard locations, from the London Eye to the Buckingham Palace, and a stream of gags about cabbies, the tube and the mundanity of modern life. But there is also a genuine affection for the city, or at least the idea of what it could be. It is a place, Paddington muses, where anyone can fit in because everyone is different – a great big melting pot of cultures and creeds. And while the film is more concerned with making you laugh and cry than scoring political points, it is hard not to see how a film in which a lovable immigrant comes to the UK and blends right in might go down in certain quarters.

Luckily, though, the film is more concerned with making us laugh and cry – something it achieves with aplomb. Consistently funny, surprising and with a heart as big as its hero's appetite, it deserves to be the start of a new franchise, and can proudly go paw-to-paw alongside the cream of the kids' movie crop. Bring your inner child.

Marmaladen with gloriously silly jokes, pitch perfect performances and incidental detail, Paddignton is a warm, witty and wondrously inventive great big bear hug of a movie.

Monday, 26 May 2014

The Coen brothers say Hail, Caesar!

Having scored one of their biggest critical hits last year with Inside Llewyn Davis, filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen are sticking in a period milieu for their next project. According to Deadline, the brothers are setting up Hail, Caesar!, which, despite the title, will not be set in Roman times.

Instead, it will chronicle the behind the scenes wrangling of Eddie Mannix, a fixer in the employ of major Hollywood studios who works to protect the reputations of their stars in the 1950s. It's a comedy apparently based on the work of real life private eye Fred Otash, a lifeguard turned cop who was fired from the force and turned to a life of wiretapping and investigation for the big film companies of the time.

It was his responsibility to control and manage the images of the stars, making sure that embarrassing scandals were quietly covered up and problems were dealt with by any means necessary. The behaviour has continued up until recently, when the Anthony Pellicano case put a damper on the use of private investigators. At least, that's the official story..

There's no word as yet on a cast or a schedule for the new Coens pic, but we're certainly ready for whatever they have up their sleeves.

Anthony Mackie set to play Jimi Hendrix

Thanks in part to a consistent work load – including his recent role as Sam 'Falcon' Wilson in Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Anthony Mackie is in demand at the moment. It also appears he may get to finally realise an ambition and play Jimi Hendrix on the big screen, as Ol Parker (Imagine Me & You) has come aboard to direct Jimi.

The film, once called Crosstown Traffic, was set up a few years ago with Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips) interested in directing Mackie in a story about the last nine days of the legendary rock star's life. Back then, the Hendrix estate objected to his portrayal, and the project fell apart. Now, with Parker aboard and the issues seemingly worked out, the renamed Jimi should be gearing up to shoot this year.

Parker already has his wife, actress Thandie Newton (The Pursuit Of Happiness), ready to co-star and has approached Noomi Rapace (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) about playing the rocker's ex-girlfriend, Kathy Etchingham. This is not the only Hendrix film out there, John Ridley (12 Years A Slave) has written and directed Jimi: All Is By My Side, which stars Andre Benjamin (Revolver) as the main man and is set to arrive here on 8 August.

As for Mackie, he's recently completed work on Shelter and A Many Splintered Thing, with John Hillcoat's (Lawless) Triple Nine next on his busy schedule.

Emilia Clarke and Nicholas Hoult set to play Bonnie and Clyde

Charismatic, chaotic criminals Bonnie Elizabeth Parker and Clyde Chestnut Barrow have been the subject of several films and TV series over the years, most famously in Arthur Penn's 1967 outing starring Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty. But that hasn't deterred Michael Sucsy (The Vow), who's revisionist tale Go Down Together has Emilia Clarke (Game Of Thrones) and Nicholas Hoult (Warm Bodies) on board to play the duo.

Sheldon Turner (Up In The Air) has worked with David Auburn (Proof) to adapt Jeff Guinn's tome Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story Of Bonnie And Clyde. In development for a few years now, it'll chronicle a new take on the exploits of the bank robbers, who left at least seven people dead as they held up banks across the Depression-era South in the US. Until, of course, they were famously brought down in a shoot-out with authorities.

It's something of a change of pace for Sucsy, who previously directed TV's acclaimed Grey Gardens (2009). But the casting seems promising: Clarke and Hoult have charisma to burn and are closer in age to the young criminals than many portrayals before – although considerably better looking, as is often the way for film adaptations.

Clarke, who is back on our screens as Daenerys Targaryen on Game Of Thrones, is filming the new Terminator: Genesis, playing Sarah Connor in the time-jumping latest entry for the killer cyborg franchise. Hoult will return to cinemas this week as Hank 'Beast' McCoy in X-Men: Days Of Future Past and has Kill Your Friends, Autobahn, Dark Places and Mad Max: Fury Road in different stages of production.

"You know what it is I love about being Spider-Man? Everything!"

Cynics suspected The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) hastily rebooted a franchise in order to retain the lucrative rights to a property which would otherwise revert back to Marvel. Marc Webb confounded them by delivering a different take on the comic books with Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone as an engaging, quirky couple. Ever since Stan Lee and Steve Ditko created the property, Spider-Man has straddled genres – science fiction heroics and grounded teen soap opera – and Webb's cleverest move was to play the angst lightly and let the kids have fun.

Unhindered by any need to rehash origin issues, this allows the still perfectly cast Garfield and sweetly determined Stone to play out a far more nuanced and complex relationship. The strength of this series' conception of Gwen, as opposed to the 'damsel in distress' women of previous Spider-Man outings, is that she insists on being an active participant in the heroics. This is now even thornier since Peter promised her dead dad (a glowering Denis Leary shows up as a ghostly rebuke) he'd keep her safe. Emma Stone is arguably the Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight) of this series, doing something unexpected with an easily dismissed supporting character. Awards voters somewhere must note that she's made a love interest Marvel killed off in 1973 as relevant and potent as, say, Black Widow or Mystique – maybe more so in that Gwen's only (not inconsiderable) superpowers are intelligence and kindness.

This follows the superhero first sequel pattern – as seen in everything from The Dark Knight (2008), this years Captain America: The Winter Soldier and, indeed, Spider-Man 2 (2004) – of being longer, with more spectacular action, more complex character interplay, more confident effects and more flamboyant villains. Ultimately, it's also much tougher on the hero to propel him into further adventures. A lesson has been learned in that a plot, which seemed as if it could get into the 'too many villains' tangle that undid Spider-Man 3 (2007), is paced much better, with overlapping origins for Electro and a Goblin of sorts so that action scenes build emotionally rather than simply go on and on.

But the intention is clear – Sony want their own expanded universe to rival Marvel, since Spider-Man joining the Avengers will remain the stuff of fans dreams. Paul Giamatti's (Saving Mr. Banks) Rhino and Felicity Jones's Felicia Hardy are given glorified cameos clearly designed to pay off down the line in future releases or the already promised Sinister Six spin-off.

The bad guys too are a clear strong suit in contrast to Webb's first film. Both Dane DeHaan's (Chronicle) Harry Osborne and Jamie Foxx's (Django Unchained) Max Dillon are villains who only become so because the world has so entirely mistreated them. There's real poignancy to Max, too, a perpetually overlooked electrical engineer with no friends or family whose obsession with Spider-Man turns nasty after a workplace accident sees him transform into the super powered Electro. If Foxx overplays his pre-Electro nerdiness, his increasingly alienated and demented super threat serves to highlight the way Peter hasn't become a monster despite the accumulated personal losses and resentments. Electro, however, becomes superfluous as the increasingly unstable Harry takes centre-stage, and when DeHaan is on screen it's almost impossible to look anywhere else.

DeHaan makes Harry Osborn a fresh character, just this side of smarmy as he goes off the deep end. A childhood friend of Peter's, Harry returns home to New York just in time to be handed a poisoned chalice by dying father Norman (a malevolent Chris Cooper). Garfield and DeHaan being two of the most compelling actors of their generation, they're unsurprisingly effective together. DeHaan plays Harry like a twitchy, anguished coiled spring, every movement and sentence wound tight – it's a compelling contrast to Garfield's energy, all loose limbs and heart on sleeve emotion.

After Man Of Steel (2013), note the way the set pieces emphasise that Spider-Man's instinct during a monster rampage is to protect innocent bystanders before clobbering the bad guy. The little kid he saves from bullies is perhaps the most crucial walk-on in the series (even more so than Stan Lee), figuring in a stirring last minute of heroism. The final third act is tonally awkward, but big reveals will resonate into Amazing Spider-Man 3 – some arguably controversial, but all powerfully played.

Despite a few too-broad gags, this is a satisfying second issue with thrills, heartbreak, gasps and a perfectly judged slingshot ending.

New character one sheets for Sin City: A Dame To Kill For arrive online

Dimension Films have just released their latest batch of character one sheets for Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller's 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 slinky deadly stripper Nancy Callahan. 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 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 (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.

First trailer and one sheet for Kingsman: The Secret Service arrives online

20th Century Fox have just released their first trailer and one sheet for Matthew Vaughn's (Kick Ass) take on Mark Millar and Dave Gibbon's comic book, Kingsman: The Secret Service.

Originally titled simply The Secret Service (after the graphic novel from which it's adapted), Kingsman: The Secret Service combines old school suave James Bond type (Colin Firth) and a street smart free runner (Taron Egerton), brought under the older man's wing for training. The comic's uncle/nephew dynamic has been jettisoned, but its Pygmalion style 'rags to Savile Row' theme remains. First mission: foiling a celebrity kidnap that's part of a master plan by Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson). Michael Caine (Harry Brown) is also aboard, adding to the films spy pedigree.

Vaughn is promising a movie that will tip a lead-lined bowler hat to spy movie history. "We missed all the spy movies we loved as kids, whether it was Bond or In Like Flint," he told Entertainment Weekly. "They had a sense of humour as well as being a thriller. With [Kingsman], we're subversing the spy movie genre as we know it."

Co-written by Vaughn and regular collaborator Jane Goldman (Stardust), Kingsman: The Secret Service also stars Mark Strong (Welcome To The Punch), Jack Davenport (Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End), Sofia Boutella, Sophie Cookson, Tom Prior and Jordan Long.

Kingsman: The Secret Service will be stealing into UK cinemas on 17 October.

First one sheet for Hyena arrives online

Film4 have just released their first one sheet for Gerard Johnson's (Tony) Hyena.

The story sees corrupt copper and high-functioning addict Michael Logan (Peter Ferdinando) pushed to the limit by the arrival of increasingly ruthless gangs of Albanian gangsters. We're told that, "Michael's razor sharp instincts have always kept him one step ahead, but now his increasingly self-destructive behaviour and the sheer brutality of the new gang lords find Michael in a spiralling descent of fear and self-doubt." Sounds dangerous.

The film also stars Kill List's (2011) Neil Maskell and MyAnna Buring, as well as Stephen Graham (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) and Richard Dormer (Good Vibrations). The film also marks Johnson's return to the Edinburgh International Film Festival after his debut, Tony, did well there in 2009.

You can see Hyena at the Edinburgh International Film Festival on 18 June, or in UK cinemas in October, courtesy of Metrodome.

First one sheet For Tiger House arrives online

The team behind UK home invasion thriller Tiger House were out in Cannes last week touting their wares and this new one sheet helped them do just that.

Starring Kaya Scodelario of Skins, Clash Of The Titans (2010) and soon The Maze Runner fame, it's putting a spin on the traditional genre ploy of an unlikely everyman searching for the hero inside himself, finding it and using it to beat down trespassers. Here it's the woman – Scodelario's crooked gymnast – who's the hero of the piece and her boyfriend the one in need of rescue. 

Unusually, the 'c' in her R.I.C.E. recovery programme seems to stand for 'crossbow' rather than 'compress'. She'll need it judging by the look of ringleader Dougray Scott (United) and his band of desperados, as she seeks to protect her nearest and dearest from harm.

The film has been shooting in Cape Town with debut director Thomas Daley behind the camera and Ill Manors' (2012) Ed Skrein in front of it. Expect it in UK cinemas and, depending on Glass Man Films' Cannes distribution deals, elsewhere, later this year.

Gordon Willis: Godfather cinematographer dies aged 82

Gordon Willis, the legendary director of photography for films including The Godfather (1972) and its sequels, Annie Hall (1977), Manhattan (1979) and one of the most influential cinematographers in history, has died aged 82.

Willis was born in New York, where his father worked as a make-up man for Warner Bros in Brooklyn. Initially, the movie loving Willis dreamed of acting, but gradually he became more interested in lighting, stage design and photography. Gofer work gave him an initial grasp of the industry before he was called into the Army during the Korean War. There, he managed to get assigned to the Air Force Photographic and Charting Service, and spent his four-year term learning everything he could about filmmaking.

After leaving the Army, he got a job as an assistant cameraman and worked his way up to first cameraman, through advertisements and documentaries – with the latter in particular affecting his mature style as a director of photography, where he saw his job as to eliminate, as opposed to adding. This approach earned him the nickname 'Prince Of Darkness' from his friend and fellow DP Conrad Hall – something that Willis did not entirely embrace, preferring to term it 'visual relativity' and emphasise the changes from light to dark. Screenwriter and director Christopher McQuarrie (Jack Reacher) Tweeted, "No one did more with less," which is a fair summation of Willis' style.

In 1969, Aram Avakian hired Willis to work on End Of The Road (1970), his first film. Within a year he shot Klute (1971) for Alan J. Pakula, and went on to define 1970s cinema with a stunning run that included The Godfather (1972), The Godfather: Part 2 (1974), The Parallax View (1974), All The President's Men (1976), Annie Hall and Manhattan.

Willis continued working into the 1980s and 1990s, even trying to direct himself in 1980 with Windows, a sort of psychosexual thriller starring Talia Shire. However, the experience was not an entirely happy one, with Willis realising that he rather enjoyed having a certain distance from the production.

There were further Woody Allen contributions too – Stardust Memories (1980), Zelig (1983), Broadway Danny Rose (1984) and The Purple Rose Of Cairo (1985) – as well as a reunion with Francis Ford Coppola for The Godfather: Part III (1990) and with Pakula on Presumed Innocent (1990) and The Devil's Own (1997). The latter was, however, his last film and Willis retired shortly after. He was awarded an honourary Oscar for his lifetime achievement in 2010 – which is some compensation for the fact that he wasn't even nominated during that incredible run of work in the 1970s (he did receive two nominations later, for Zelig and The Godfather: Part III).

"This is a momentous loss," confirmed ASC President Richard Crudo. "He was one of the giants who absolutely changed the way movies looked. Up until the time of The Godfather 1 and 2, nothing previously shot looked that way. He changed the way films looked and the way people looked at films."

US author Bret Easton Ellis tweeted: "America's greatest cinematographer GORDON WILLIS: RIP."

Girls writer and actress Lena Dunham wrote: "May we always view the world as if through his lens."

Our thoughts go out to his friends and family. He will be missed.

First trailer for Monsters: Dark Continent arrives online

Vertigo Films have just released their first trailer for Tom Green's Monsters (2010) sequel, Monsters: Dark Continent.

Set ten years after the events in Gareth Edwards barnstorming debut Monsters, the "continuation" heads east, where a new strain of alien sand bugs have taken up residence. Combat troops Noah (Johnny Harris), Frankie (Joe Dempsie) and Michael (Sam Keeley) are in on the bug hunt across Arabian deserts and into the maws of death.

With a whole mess of years elapsed since that NASA probe crash-landed in Latin America, the aliens have adapted efficiently to their new environment. Environments, actually. There are now infected zones dotted across the globe and the idea of harmonious co-existence, touched on in the first film, has clearly long since been jettisoned in favour of the Starship Troopers (1997) approach to extra-terrestrial management.

Reads the synopsis: "Two soldiers embark on a life-altering mission through the dark heart of monster territory in the deserts. By the time they reach their goal, they will have been forced to confront the fear that fighting the monsters is just the beginning of their war."

Monsters: Dark Continent is the debut feature of Tom Green. "As soon as I watched Monsters I completely identified with the idea of using real locations as a foundation on which to build a world of limitless scale," he explains of the film's setting. "From my first visit to the location shown here, in Jordan, it was somewhere I felt was key to making Dark Continent work. The moonscape-like environment was the perfect basis for an 'alien' landscape."

Monsters: Dark Continent gets a UK release on 28 November.

New images from Transformers: Age Of Extinction arrive online

Paramount Pictures have just released this latest batch of images for Michael Bay's robots in disguise revamp, Transformers: Age Of Extinction.

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 hits cinemas on 10 July in the UK, after a 27 June debut in the US.

"This is not war... it's human extinction."

Paramount Pictures have just released their latest trailer and one sheets for Michael Bay's robots in disguise revamp, Transformers: Age Of Extinction.

While we still don't actually see Kelsey Grammer's (X-Men: The Last Stand) Harold Attinger, there's certainly more from Stanley Tucci's (The Hunger Games) Joshua, obviously having a ball as the scientist who discovers an "unstable" metal that's clearly the stuff the Transformers are made from.

Caught between human forces determined to turn Transformer tech to their own ends and a resurgent invasion by hostile Decepticons are Mark Wahlberg's (Pain & Gain) Cade Yeager, his daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz) and her boyfriend Shane (Jack Reynor). Bearing the brunt of the destruction this time seems to be Hong Kong, although several scenes of the Autobots in Monument Valley add an intriguing gunslinger flavour.

Transformers: Age Of Extinction hits cinemas on 10 July in the UK, after a 27 June debut in the US.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Godzilla sequel in development

Though the film has had mixed reactions, Gareth Edwards' Godzilla reboot has opened to enormous success at box offices around the world, drawing in an impressive $93.2 million in the US on its first weekend of release alone. So it comes as little surprise then that plans are already being put in place for a Godzilla sequel.

Given how eager Legendary Pictures in particular has been to develop franchises, it should be a no-brainer for all involved to start working on ideas for another movie, especially since Legendary and Warner Bros have been considering the prospect for a while now.

Godzilla is now stomping towards an estimated $196.2 million worldwide in its first weekend. Director Gareth Edwards has hinted in the past that he has ideas for a potential sequel, but has kept further details under his hat, preferring to let his work do the talking. Now we're certain he'll be besieged with calls officially asking him to take on on the new film, though he may still choose to do what he did with Monsters (2010), and let someone else handle any sequels.

Expect to hear more on Godzilla 2 (or whatever the title may be) soon. As always, watch this space.

Gareth Edwards set to direct Star Wars spin-off

When your major studio filmmaking debut roars at the box office the way that Gareth Edwards' Godzilla did last weekend, people listen. But even given that success, it's still great to hear that Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm have Edwards attached to direct one of the Star Wars standalone spin-offs.

It's not yet clear which of the potential spin-offs the companies want him to tackle, and indeed no-one at the Mouse House has even confirmed which characters might be the focus of the non-trilogy movies. So far, the prime rumours have flowed around Yoda, Han Solo, Boba Fett and even Obi Wan Kenobi's untold adventures.

Said Edwards, courtesy of, "Ever since I saw Star Wars I knew exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life – join the Rebel Alliance! I could not be more excited and honored to go on this mission with Lucasfilm".

While we do know that at least three spin-offs are planned to keep the Star Wars fires stoked between Episodes VII, VIII and IX, everything else about them is a mystery besides the fact that X-Men: Days Of Future Past writer/producer Simon Kinberg and Episode VII co-writer Lawrence Kasdan have been overseeing their development and Gary Whitta (The Book Of Eli) is specifically on board to script the film Edwards is set for.

Whitta added, "From the moment I first saw the original movie as a wide-eyed kid, Star Wars has been the single most profound inspiration to my imagination and to my career as a writer. It is deeply special to me,so to be given the opportunity to contribute to its ongoing legacy, especially in collaboration with a film-maker as talented as Gareth, is literally a dream come true. I'm still pinching myself."

Star Wars is yet another feather in Edwards' cap, coming after the indie success of Monsters (2010) and Godzilla's stomping of the competition. He's attached to any potential Godzilla sequel – which Warner Bros and Legendary have already confirmed is in development – but it's still early days for that, with no script in existence just yet. So it's entirely possible that Edwards could head to a galaxy far, far away before coming back down to Earth for another bout with the big G.

Star Wars: Episode VII, which has just kicked off shooting in Abu Dhabi with J.J. Abrams calling the shots, is out on 18 December 2015. 

Harrison Ford formally offered Blade Runner 2

Both Ridley Scott and Harrison Ford have repeatedly provided grist for the rumour mills in recent years by discussing the slowly developing Blade Runner (1982) sequel. While there's been much speculation, however, there have been few reports from the actual studio development side.

That's just changed, however, with the news that the Warners Bros based Alcon Entertainment have now officially made an offer to Ford to appear in the belated follow-up. "We would be honored, and we are hopeful, that Harrison will be part of our project," said Alcon's co-CEOs Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson in a joint statement.

Interestingly, back when the project was first announced in August 2011, Kosove was initially quoted as saying there was practically no chance of Ford showing up ("I think it is quite unlikely"). A few months later, however, a mischievous Scott suggested that, while Deckard isn't intended as the centre of the film, but rather an expansion of the mythology, "It would be amusing to have him it somewhere".

A few months after that, Scott was musing about how Deckard's having aged might be explained away in the film. "He was a Nexus 6, so we don't know how long he can live," he chuckled. Since Ford was never an adherent of the 'Deckard is a replicant' school of thought, you might think that would be a sticking point.

But Ford has surprised many by his openness to revisiting Blade Runner. In a Reddit interview last month, for example, he said, "I'm quite curious and excited about seeing a new script for Blade Runner. 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. I would be very happy to engage with him again in the further telling of this story."

With the news of Alcon's formal approach to Ford, that eventuality now seems much closer. Note, though, the careful wording of the Alcon statement that sees Ford as "part of our project". There is nothing there that suggests he'd be the principal star, or even that he'd definitely be playing Deckard.

Nothing is known about the story yet, other than that it takes place decades after the original Blade Runner. Michael Green (Green Lantern) and original writer Hampton Fancher (re-christened "Happen Faster" by Scott, back in the day) have written the screenplay. Kosove and Johnson say they've "crafted with Ridley Scott an extraordinary sequel to one of the greatest films of all time".

As always, watch this space for further updates.

Empire Design's poster campaign for Richard Ayoade's The Double

New York and London based studio Empire Design were responsible for creating the stunning series of film noir inspired posters for Richard Ayoade's (Submarine) film, The Double.

Following on from the success of Submarine (2010), The Double is Ayoade's second feature as director. Based on Fyodor Dostoyevsky's novel of the same name, The Double follows the story of awkward James Simon (Jesse Eisenberg) who is driven to despair after his life is usurped by someone who looks exactly like him, but is also his behavioural opposite.

Empire, which specialises in producing film campaigns and trailers, including work for 12 Years A Slave, Dallas Buyers Club and Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, created both photographic and illustrated ads which reference The Double's title, its psychological themes and Ayoade's artistic influences.

Images of Eisenberg and co-star Mia Wasikowska (Alice In Wonderland) were shot on set by unit photographer Dean Rogers. Art director John Calvert says Empire was given exclusive access to the script and set to ensure the team had "a real feel" for visuals and lighting before designing the campaign.

Once the film was finished, Empire was briefed by Ayoade and Studio Canal and asked to convey a claustrophobic atmosphere, as well as referencing the well-known leads and director.

"Richard also had some specific references such as the Jean Luc Godard movie Alphaville, Ingmar Bergman's Persona, the poster for Jean-Pierre Melville's Le Samurai, film noir movies of the 1940s and a self portrait by Edvard Munch. We then went away and produced around of 10 to 15 visuals, [which] were refined... until we ended up with a look everyone was happy with," explains Calvert.

The photographs use lots of deep shadow and were lit from a single overhead bulb. "There's very little, if any natural light in the film and you never see any sky," adds Calvert. The typography was inspired by lettering used in French posters from the 1960s but Calvert says it was given "a slight hand drawn roughness" to avoid looking too much like a retro pastiche.

The illustrated final illustration was inspired by Alfred Hitchcock's thriller, The 39 Steps (1959), which features similarly bold three dimensional typography. In keeping with the darkness and sense of claustrophobia conveyed in the photographic posters, the cityscape pictured is largely in darkness and long shadows have been added to letters for an ominous feel.

The only light in the poster comes from a spotlight shining on a lone protagonist, which Calvert says was added to give a sense of scale (La Boca and Human After All used a similar technique to great effect in their posters for this year's BAFTA Awards)

"I built [the poster] using Adobe Illustrator, then added texture and shading in Photoshop. We then gave it to an illustrator, Warren Holder, who drew over the top of it to get more of a sketched feel. The drawing was then dropped back over the Photoshop file and the two merged together," says Calvert.

Designing film posters that are bold enough to cut through the visual noise of large cities without being garish is always a challenge, but Empire's posters for The Double do just that. They convey all of the necessary information on the film's famous cast and acclaimed director, while creating a sense of suspense through a contemporary take on classic artwork from decades past.

First trailer for Mike Leigh's Mr. Turner arrives online

Entertainment One have just released their first trailer for Mike Leigh's (Happy-Go-Lucky) Mr. Turner.

Making it's bow at last weeks Cannes Film Festival, Mike Leigh's J.M.W. Turner biopic promises to be a big old celebration of all that is good in English arts.

Leigh's 13th feature film spans the final 25 years of the painter's life, leading up to his death in 1851 aged 76. Timothy Spall (The Kings Speech), still young in comparison at 57, even learnt the rudiments of Turner's craft for the role. As he told The Telegraph, he completed one of Turner's paintings of steamers. "I'd reckon I'm now as good as Turner was when he was, say, nine," Spall revealed, "and he was pretty bloody good at nine".

The film, like Amadeus (1984) and Pollock (2000) before it, will explore the artist's unquenchable desire to create. "Turner was a compulsive artist," Leigh explained. "Turner had to paint, had to draw, all the time, he just never stopped. It was an absolute obsession."

Like Mozart and Jackson Pollock, Turner's genius was tempered by, well, temper. "[He] was eccentric, anarchic, vulnerable, imperfect, erratic and sometimes uncouth," Leigh told the broadsheet. "He could be selfish and disingenuous, mean yet generous, and he was capable of great passion and poetry." The trailer majors on his rivalry with artist peers John Constable (James Fleet) and John Ruskin (Joshua McGuire).

Leigh has assembled a cadre of veteran collaborators for this one, including Vera Drake's (2004) Marion Bailey, who plays Turner's Margate landlady, and Topsy-Turvy's (1999) Dorothy Atkinson, his housekeeper, while cinematographer Dick Pope (The Illusionist), costumer Jacqueline Durran (Anna Karenina) and Academy Award® winning make-up designer Christine Blundell (Sherlock Holmes) former key parts of his production team. All the signs are positive for a Topsy-Turvy calibre period piece from the director.

Mr. Turner arrives in UK cinemas on 31 October.

Tom Hardy is a True American

The prospect of a true crime tale with Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises) soundly attached must've been a tantalising proposition for studios when his agents floated the idea earlier this year. After several competing bids, Megan Ellison's Annapurna Pictures scored the chance to make it and team Hardy with Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty) for what sounds like a compelling combo.

True American will be drawn from Anand Giridharadas non-fiction tome subtitled Murder And Mercy In Texas. It's the story of Raisuddin Bhuiyan, a Bangladesh Air Force officer who longed to live and work in America's technology sector. He made it to the States, finding temporary work in a Dallas minimart, which is where cruel fate intervened. A few days after September 11 2001, self-styled "American Terrorist" Mark Stroman walked into the store and shot him.

Some stories would end there, but the astonishing tale isn't done: as Stroman sat on death row for his crime and Bhuiyan struggled to recuperate from injuries that had maimed and nearly killed him, the Bangladesh native decided to seek out his attacker and grant him forgiveness, while starting a campaign against the death penalty in their state. Stroman, for his part, strove to become a better man in prison.

With no writer attached yet, it'll be a while before this project comes to fruition, assuming it survives development. Hardy has already got a packed schedule, lining up the likes of Elton John biopic Rocketman and Brian Helgeland's (Payback) Kray brothers narrative Legend. He'll next be seen in The Drop and Child 44.

New trailer for Deliver Us From Evil arrives online

Sony Pictures have just released their latest trailer for Scott Derrickson's (Sinister) Deliver Us From Evil.

Based on true events, the tale stars Eric Bana as real life exorcist and 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 creeps into out cinemas on 22 August.

New Japanese trailer for The Grudge: Beginning Of The End arrives online

Showgate have just released their first – albeit Japanese – trailer for Masayuki Ochiai's (Shutter) The Grudge: Beginning Of The End.

Like a chalk faced, black haired female ghoul crawling backwards at you across a ceiling, the Grudge franchise refuses to die. Marking the 15th anniversary of the original, Masayuki Ochiai has written and directed The Grudge: Beginning Of The End (also known as Ju-On: Owari No Hajimari). The first Grudge outing since 2009, it's also, if you include the American instalments, the tenth film in the series. This latest trailer demonstrates that the classic scares still work, even if they are reassuringly familiar.

The story this time involves an elementary school teacher named Yusi, who visits the home of Toshio Saeki, because he's been absent from school for a long time and she hasn't seen any of the other films. Arriving at the house, she starts to re-live the horrific tragedy that befell the Saekis a decade earlier. And there's a mysterious cardboard box in a cupboard that holds the key to a mystery.

The Grudge is a curse that keeps on being reborn, which is appropriate given that that's the hook of the entire unwieldy series. Beginning with short films and two Japanese TV movies in 2000, director Takashi Shimizu spun the Ju-On tale into two theatrical Japanese features in 2003. He then helmed a Hollywood remake of the first starring Sarah Michelle Gellar in 2004, and stayed around for The Grudge 2 (2006), which again featured Gellar but was a standalone movie not based on Ju-On 2. Following this so far?

Then in 2009, there were two non-Shimizu Japanese entries in Old Lady In White and Girl In Black (released together as Ju-On: White Ghost / Black Ghost), plus the American DTV Grudge 3 (2009), directed by Toby Wilkins, starring Shawneee Smith (Saw) and Marina Sirtis (Star Trek: Next Generation).

And that, apart from a Wii game, was the lot – until now of course. Sam Raimi's Ghost House Pictures are also developing a fourth US version currently in the hands of Jeff Buhler (who wrote the Clive Barker adaptation The Midnight Meat Train). That's thought to be a reboot, but given the overlapping and repeated material running through all the films already, it doesn't make a great deal of difference. That's further in the future, however.

In the meantime, Ju-On: Owari No Hajimari is out in Japan on 28 June. There are no other international release dates so far.

"We're not going to fight them, we're going to transcend them."

Christopher Nolan's (The Dark Knight Rises) long-time collaborator and Inception (2010) Director of Photography, Wally Pfister makes his directorial debut with a great looking technology thriller that seeks to reconcile brain and brawn. Asking such big questions as the nature of consciousness and the existence of the soul while also acting as a meditation on love and loss.

Transcendence sees Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp), the foremost researcher in the field of Artificial Intelligence, on the verge of creating a sentient machine capable of assimilating all recorded information to boast the total knowledge of every human who's ever lived. Hasn't man always strived to create God? he asks one morally aghast detractor, and is promptly shot by anti-technology extremists.

Caster dies from the attack, but not before he oversees his scientist wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) and best friend Max (Paul Bettany) in the feeding of his own brain into the machine. At first everything appears rosy, with the upgraded Caster promising to cure Alzheimer's disease while plugging into security cameras all across America to clean up the streets.

But he soon crosses moral lines, turning dozens of people into a regenerating army with a collective consciousness. And it's here where the films problems truly start.

To their credit, Pfister and screenwriter Jack Paglen retain an ambivalence regarding technological promise versus peril throughout, but the musings are too surface-deep and second-hand. Worse still, for a movie that grows ever more ludicrous – science fiction turns to science fantasy – it's oddly monotonous.

Transcendence is, at it's heart, a B-movie with zombies, explosions and a bad robot, but with its event-movie budget and heavyweight cast (Nolan regulars Morgan Freeman and Cillian Murphy are also on board) it strives for humourless significance when it should be cutting loose.

Depp fans too are likely to feel short-changed. While it's a role that finally sees him play a somewhat ordinary everyman, replete with cardigan and tortoise-shell spectacles, it mostly requires just his face on a screen.

For a reported $20m fee, it's hard not to joke about him Skypeing in his performance – especially given he indicates higher intelligence and lost humanity by delivering a flat, emotionless vocal.

Ultimately, while Pfister should be applauded for making a non-franchise property with ideas and aspirations, Transcendence is nowhere near as grand as its title suggests. Gleaming visuals aside, it's a  banal science fiction slog that aims high but falls far.

"So here we are: A thief, two thugs, an assassin, and a maniac."

Marvel have just released their latest trailer and one sheet for James Gunn's (Super) mad space opera Guardians Of The Galaxy.

If the first trailer for the interstellar action comedy was a tease introducing us to the rag-tag assortment of thieves, thugs, assassins and lunatics that makes up the titular team, this new promo delivers action, spectacle and the same swagger we've come to expect from what is shaping up to be not only another giant leap for the comic book crew, but also a whole lot of fun.

With Marvel gambling that less comic book savvy audiences have been primed by the likes of Iron Man and Thor to accept more out-there concepts, Guardians sends us hurtling into deep space to meet a very different gang of heroes. Well, we say heroes... We're introduced to American pilot Peter Quill, also known as Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), who finds himself the object of a manhunt after stealing a mysterious stolen McGuffin orb coveted by the villainous Ronan (Lee Pace).

Whilst in a prison, he meets an unusual suspects line-up of aliens 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).

With Benicio Del Toro (Savages), John C. Reilly (Step Brothers), Karen Gillan (Doctor Who), Peter Serafinowicz (Saun Of The Dead), Ophelia Lovibond (Mr. Popper's Penguins), Gregg Henry (Slither), Laura Haddock (Da Vinci's Demons), Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond), Michael Rooker (Super) and Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs) rounding out the cast, Guardians Of The Galaxy arrives on 1 August.

Ridley Scott set to direct Martian

Like its protagonist, science fiction thriller The Martian seemed adrift last month, still in possession of it's lead star (Matt Damon), but detached from anyone to direct it after Drew Goddard (The Cabin In The Woods) cut the cord to work on Amazing Spider-Man spin-off Sinister Six and Netflix's Daredevil series. Now comes news via The Hollywood Reporter that the Mars set film has found a replacement – and someone with experience in unearthly movies – with Ridley Scott in talks to direct.

Taken from Andy Weir's e-book, the film version of the story has been described as a hybrid of Apollo 13 (1995) and Cast Away (2000), with an American space explorer trapped on the Red Planet and forced to find a way to get back to Earth before his supplies run out as NASA struggles to mount a rescue. While it certainly has thematic overtones that may put you in mind of more recent orbital hit Gravity (2013), The Martian is said to be a very different take on space suit survival. And Goddard's influence won't be completely absent: he wrote at least the current draft of the script, which may now be tinkered with if Scott brings in someone else.

Scott, who last ventured beyond our atmosphere for Prometheus (2012), is back on Earth and back in time for his latest, Exodus: Gods And Kings, which casts Christian Bale (The Dark Knight Rises) as Moses and is set for a 26 December release.