Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Star Wars: The Force Awakens character trading cards arrive online

While the first teaser trailer for J.J. Abrams' (Star Trek Into Darkness) Star Wars: The Force Awakens certainly introduced us to some of the key characters we'll meet when the film arrives next December, we were still in the dark (side) as to their names. Abrams and Lucasfilm's Kathleen Kennedy have decided to remedy that, premiering a set of collectible trading card images via Entertainment Weekly.

This is far from everyone we yet have to meet, but we figure the rest will show up once the next trailer arrives, most likely with Marvel's Avengers: Age Of Ultron next May.


John Boyega (Attack The Block) plays Finn, the conflicted Stormtrooper we meet at the start of the teaser. We don’t yet know his history, but it's certainly going to be interesting. Is he a bad guy who decided to go straight? A hero hiding out in wolf's clothing? And what is the role of Stormtroopers in the galaxy years after the Battle of Endor?


Played by Daisy Ridley (Silent Witness), Rey is said to be the co-lead of the movie. Fiercely independent, the story may see her team up with Boyega to solve a mystery that will take them into contact with heroes from the original trilogy.


Abrams has long promised a return to practical effects, and droids, where possible. Here, then, meet BB-8, rumoured to be the sidekick to Boyega and Daisy Ridley's characters, and apparently has multiple defence/attack capabilities.

Poe Dameron

Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis) stars as Poe Dameron, an X-Wing pilot clearly aligned with the Rebel Alliance (or whatever they call themselves these days). But he's got an interesting name, and he's played by someone we know can assay both heroic and dangerous characters, so we're certainly looking forward to finding out more about him.

Kylo Ren

Perhaps the most mysterious of the new characters remains Kylo Ren, who is named but without anyone leaking who plays him. We'd put our money on Adam Driver (Girls), but it could clearly be anyone in that cloak.

We also get a selection of scenes from the teaser trailer to round out the collection.


A squadron of troopers, presumably featuring Finn. Note the redesigned helmets and armour – subtle, yet clearly part of the classic Star Wars universe.

New worlds

Here, an X-wing squadron – note the new blue stripes down the side – fly in formation over a lake on a planet that seems to be very different from anything we've seen in the Star Wars universe to date.

The Millennium Falcon

Arguably the hero shot from the trailer, the Millennium Falcon – bruised, battered, missing a dish or two – manoeuvres around the desert planet with all the sprightliness of before.

Big question, though – who's flying the Falcon? Early word indicates that Han and Chewie are piloting something very different, and much larger, when the story introduces them. But we would be pretty amazed if Solo and the Wookiee didn't get on board the ship that did the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs at some point.

Written by Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan (Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes), the film stars Star Wars veterans Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Kenny Baker, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and new saga arrivals John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis (Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes), Domhnall Gleeson (About Time), Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years A Slave), Gwendoline Christie (Game Of Thrones), Max von Sydow (Shutter Island), Christina Chong (W.E.), Crystal Clarke and Pip Anderson.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens arrives on 18 December next year.

New one sheet for Inherent Vice arrives online

Warner Bros have recently released their latest one sheet for Paul Thomas Anderson's (There Will Be Blood) Inherent Vice.

Adapted from Thomas Pynchon's 2009 novel, the film follows private eye Doc Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix), whose life is disrupted by the appearance of his ex-old lady from out of nowhere. She brings a tale of her current billionaire land developer boyfriend whom she just happens to be in love with, and a plot by his wife and her boyfriend to kidnap that billionaire and throw him in an asylum.

Set at the tail end of the psychedelic 1960s with paranoia running rampant, Doc soon finds himself wrapped up in a tale of surfers, hustlers, dopers and rockers, a murderous loan shark, LAPD Detectives, a tenor sax player working undercover, and a mysterious entity known as the Golden Fang.

Featuring a stellar cast that also includes Reese Witherspoon (Walk The Line), Josh Brolin (Gangster Squad), Owen Wilson (Midnight In Paris), Jena Malone (Sucker Punch), Martin Short (Mars Attacks) and Benicio Del Toro (Traffic), Inherent Vice premiered at the New York Film Festival on last week, although UK audiences will have to wait until 30 January next year.

New one sheet for The Woman In Black: Angel Of Death arrives online

Entertainment One and Hammer have recently released their latest one sheet for Tom Harper's The Woman In Black: Angel Of Death.

The sequel continues four decades after Daniel Radcliffe's Arthur Kipps found himself tangled with the dark secrets lurking within Eel Marsh House. Now the property has become a temporary lodging for evacuated children during World War II. Unfortunately for them, the funereally clad lady of the house is still in residence and the Luftwaffe prove to be the least of their worries.

Our heroes this time out are teacher Eve Parkins (Phoebe Fox) and Harry Burnstow (Jeremy Irvine), who must help her uncover – and survive – the house's dark secrets.

Peaky Blinders veteran Harper takes up the directing reins, working from Jon Croker's (Fast Girls) script. With Helen McCrory (Skyfall), Adrian Rawlins (Breaking The Waves), Oaklee Pendergast (Oaklee Pendergast), Amelia Pidgeon (3096 Days) and Jude Wright (Spy) among the cast, The Woman In Black: Angel Of Death arrives on 13 February next year. Now there's a spooky way to spend Valentine's Day.

New one sheet for Tim Burton's Big Eyes arrives online

The Weistein Company have recently released their latest one sheet for Tim Burton's (Dark Shadows) Big Eyes.

Usually to be found around the macabre but strangely compelling creatures, Tim Burton has made a very different sort of film for his latest, Big Eyes. Even Big Fish (2003) had touches of the fantastical, but this is a stylish and completely real life tale.

Big Eyes chronicles the story of Walter and Margaret Keane who became known in the '50s and '60s for crafting one of the first mass-marketed art sensations: their ocularly enhanced horrors were sold in petrol stations and small stores around the US. In a sexist twist reflecting the age, it was Walter alone who became famous for the pictures, parlaying the fiction that he created them into TV talk show stardom. But it was Margaret who did the work, and claimed her share of the profits when she and Walter divorced. To prove her ownership, the judge ordered a paint-off between the pair in court.

Ed Wood (1994) writers Larry Karaszewski and Scott Alexander have long been trying to get the film off the ground, with previously developing incarnations seeing Thomas Haden Church (Killer Joe) and Kate Hudson (Bride Wars), and Ryan Reynolds (Buried) and Reese Witherspoon (Mud) briefly attached. In its final form with Adams and Waltz, it also co-stars Danny Huston (Wrath Of The Titans), Jason Schwartzman (Moonrise Kingdom) and Terence Stamp (The Adjustment Bureau), as, respectively, a gossip journalist, a gallery owner and a snobby art critic.

Big Eyes will arrive here on 26 December.

New red band trailer and one sheet for R100 arrives online

Drafthouse Films have recently released a fresh red band trailer and one sheet for Hitoshi Matsumoto's (Symbol) R100.

R100 sees Nao Ohmori (Ichi The Killer) play Takafumi Katayama, a mild mannered father who escapes the pressures of daily life by joining a mysterious S&M club, where the so-called Queens visit clients in real life settings. While at first the rough treatment and humiliation he receives from leather clad women in cafés and restaurants is enjoyable, Takafumi soon realizes that he's opened a door that cannot be closed. Unable to end his relationship with the club, he finds himself pursued by a gang of ruthless dominatrices, each with a very unique talent. Takafumi must either find a way to turn the tables, or walk even further down this dark yet sexy path.

A massive star in Japan, where he is best known for his zany television comedies, director Hitoshi Matsumoto has bewildered and delighted Midnight Madness audiences twice before, with Big Man Japan (2007) and Symbol (2009), each time seemingly one-upping himself in terms of both strangeness and imagination. With R100, he returns with a distinctive take on the sex comedy. The title is itself a play on the Japanese movie ratings R-15 and R-18, and represents just how far Matsumoto is willing to go to slap, tickle, and lead his audiences into a world that is unlike anything they have ever experienced.

Initially released in Japan back in 2013, R100 is now set for a 2015 worldwide release via video on demand.

New character one sheets for Jupiter Ascending arrive online

Warner Bros have just released their latest batch of character one sheets for the Wachowski siblings (Cloud Atlas) delayed, Jupiter Ascending.

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

Arguably your average mind twisting stuff from Lana and Andy Wachowski, then. With Tatum and Kunis joined by Sean Bean (Mirror Mirror), Eddie Redmayne (My Week With Marilyn), Douglas Booth (Romeo And Juliet), Tuppence Middleton (Trance), Doona Bae (Cloud Atlas), James Darcy (Hitchcock) and Tim Piggott-Smith (Red 2), Jupiter Ascending will land in our cinemas on 6 February.

New one sheet for A Most Violent Year arrives online

A24 Films have recently released their latest one sheet for J.C. Chandor's (All Is Lost) A Most Violent Year.

Following his well received debut with Margin Call (2011) and the excellent Robert Redford drama All Is Lost (2013), we've been waiting with anticipation to see something from writer/director J.C. Chandor's next film, A Most Violent Year.

A Most Violent Year finds Chandor back in Manhattan, unspooling a story that takes place during the summer of 1981 when the city's crime has risen to extreme levels.

Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis) is Abel Morales, an immigrant who is trying to grow his heating oil business. But the dangerous streets of the big city cause more and more problems, and Morales finds that his ethics are malleable as he fights to keep his company going with the aid of his equally tough wife, Anna (Jessica Chastain). As the year progresses, their tactics become less scrupulous and the authorities start to take an interest...

"The film is essentially a gangster movie," explains Chandor, "but it's playing off of your expectations in a way, and becomes this very intense character study. You're trying to figure out who those people are, and so are they. It's a pivotal month of their lives."

Albert Brooks (Drive), David Oyelowo (Jack Reacher), Alessandro Nivola (American Hustle) and Catalina Sandino Moreno (Maria Full Of Grace) are all part of the cast for A Most Violent Year, which lands in the US on 31 December and UK cinemas from 23 January.

New trailer and one sheet for The Loft arrives online

Open Road Films have recently released their latest trailer and one sheet for Erik Van Looy's (The Memory Of A Killer) The Loft.

The Loft follows five married men who share ownership of an upmarket penthouse loft, which they use to discreetly meet their respective mistresses. When the body of a murdered woman is found in that loft, the men begin to suspect each other of having committed the gruesome crime. Gripped by paranoia, friendships are tested, loyalties are questioned, and marriages crumble while fear and suspicion run rampant. Through flashbacks, which are intertwined with scenes from the present, the entire story is slowly unravelled.

The Loft, which stars James Marsden (X-Men), Karl Urban (Star Trek Into Darkness), Wentworth Miller (Resident Evil: Afterlife), Eric Stonestreet (Bad Teacher), Matthias Schoenaerts (Rust And Bone) and Rhona Mitra (Shooter) among it's cast, arrives in the US on 23 January with no UK release date as yet.

New details for Finding Dory swim online

Though we learned some details about Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios' Finding Nemo (2003) sequel Finding Dory back in August – including that Diane Keaton (Annie Hall) and Eugene Levy (American Pie) are playing the parents to Ellen DeGeneres' ever forgetful fish – not much else had emerged about the film. Now, Brazilian site Omelete (via Collider, which offers a translation) has spoken to freshly appointed Pixar president Jim Morris about the film, who has spilled a few more details.

The new movie reportedly takes place six months after the events in Finding Nemo, with Dory happily settled and living with the marine community in the same reef as Marlin and his son. She still has issues with her memory, and when she attends one of Nemo's class trips to watch manta rays migrate home, she starts to have serious feelings of homesickness and wants to learn where her family are now.

According to Morris, that will be on the California coastline as "the movie will be mostly set at the California Marine Biology Institute, a huge complex of sea-life rehabilitation and aquarium, where Dory was born and raised. We will get to meet new characters, like an octopus, sea lions, a beluga whale, among others."

Collider also brings word that the setting has been shifted in the last couple of years, as the original locale was a SeaWorld type facility, somewhere Pixar is likely to want to avoid given the Blackfish (2013) backlash. Still, animated features change these things up all the time, and Pixar in particular is willing to scrap ideas midway through production. With Albert Brooks (Drive), Ty Burrell (Dawn Of The Dead), Idris Elba (Prometheus), Dominic West (300) and Vicki Lewis (Finding Nemo) in the cast, Finding Dory will float our way on 29 July 2016.

James Gunn talks more about Guardians Of The Galaxy 2

He may not have quite the same ticking time clock as some of the other directors in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but James Gunn still knows that he will have to follow the smash success of Guardians Of The Galaxy with the sequel in a few years' time. Speaking to Comic Book Resources recently, he has been talking again in loose terms about the new movie, including his vision for it.

"Really, it's just about walking forward in an elegant manner,"says Gunn. "When you go forward with a group of characters, that means you have to go forward. And going forward means you're understanding these characters in a new way, you're developing a new kind of story about their lives and who they are and where they're going. And if you're doing that, if you're walking forward, then you can't just repeat what you did before. That's going backwards. That's not understanding the character."

He cites the James Bond series as, with a few exceptions, a franchise that tends to stick to formula, which he's looking to largely avoid. "That's not a knock. It's a really fun series. But that's not what the Guardians are. The Guardians are going to continuously change. I think that some of the characters are probably worse than what we think they are, and other characters are better than we think they are. It's going to be interesting to learn a little bit about that as time goes on."

As for how much progress he's made on the sequel so far? "Well, I'm really inspired. The whole story is written. I'm very excited about it. And that's where it is. But the story point for me is, in a lot of ways, the most difficult thing. I feel like it's pretty strong. It's constantly shifting, but I feel like it's pretty strong. I'm excited about it."

Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 is set to hit US cinemas on 5 May 2017, with the UK audiences enjoying a traditionally earlier glimpse on 28 April. The first film, meanwhile, was officially the second highest grossing film this year with an impressive $772,257,316*.

*The first was Michael Bay's Transformers: Age Of Extinction with an inexplicable $1,087,404,499.

Gina Carano set for Kickboxer

The team behind the Kickboxer (1989) remake might have been disappointed when Tony Jaa (Ong-Bak) dropped out due to scheduling conflicts, especially with the film about to start shooting. All those worries were swiftly banished, however, when word arrived earlier this month that Jean-Claude Van Damme (The Expendables 2) agreed to sign on in his place. Now news arrives via The Hollywood Reporter that director John Stockwell (Cat Run) has added Gina Carano into the mix.

Carano is set to play a fight promoter with her Ultimate Fighting Championship credentials seemingly the perfect fit for a cast that already includes Van Damme, stuntman and actor Alain Moussi (White House Down), former WWE wrestler Dave Bautista (Guardians Of The Galaxy) and Georges St. Pierre (Captain America: The Winter Soldier). Sara Malakul Lane (Jailbait) has also joined the cast as the woman who catches Moussi's eye.

Moussi takes over the leading mantle as Kurt Sloane, a talented fighter who heads to Thailand intending to learn the secrets of advanced kickboxing mostly so he can confront Tong Po (Bautista), the man who killed his brother. Van Damme plays Master Chow, who teaches Sloane everything he needs to know.

The film represents a reunion for Stockwell and Carano, who worked together on this year's In The Blood. Carano will next be seen in hijack thriller Bus 657, which also features Bautista.

Monday, 22 December 2014

"One day I'll remember. Remember everything that happened: the good, the bad, those who survived... and those that did not."

"So began a battle that none had expected; and it was called the Battle of Five Armies, and it was very terrible." A spinner of epic tales he may have been, but when it came to The Hobbit's climactic engagement, J.R.R. Tolkien clearly wasn't much for showmanship. The same cannot be said of Peter Jackson, thankfully, who here concludes his six-part Middle-earth saga by transforming a few pages of afterthought into a thunderous melee of interracial warfare.

Having navigated the barrels, spiders, riddles and ruins, it's the chance to realise this gigantic, five-way battle royale that clearly prompted Jackson's return to Tolkien's world. So much so, in fact, that most other material falls by the wayside. Smaug is unleashed and dispatched in a fleeting ten minute opening sequence, his brief but spectacular reign of fire cut short by a monologue-stopping arrow. Likewise the rising menace of Sauron is eagerly skipped past to make way for the main event.

Pelennor Fields was a noble struggle between light and darkness, observed from on high amidst the spires of Minas Tirith. This, by contrast, is a dirty barroom brawl – every hack, slash and stab felt physically from deep within the scrum. From the moment elven warriors vault the dwarven phalanx to disembowel onrushing orcs, the Bad Taste (1987) director clearly revels in the ensuing carnage with gleeful invention. Trolls act as mobile siege towers, ballistas raining death from their shoulders, walls collapsing before bipedal battering rams. A raging, elk-mounted Thranduil (Lee Pace) deals antler assisted decapitation, while dwarven rabble-rouser Dain (Billy Connolly) spouts expletives from the back of an armoured war pig. When Thorin (Richard Armitage) finally leads the charge from the gates of Erebor, the glorious rush of battle met is triumphant euphoria.

Yet despite the warmongering title, focusing on the action would be doing The Hobbit: The Battle Of Five Armies a disservice. Even during the more lengthy dialogue scenes, it's compelling stuff, reaping the rewards of characters built-up over the previous films, all of them flawed and with a convincing agenda. Luke Evans, as Bard, becomes a reluctant leader of men, whose single-minded desire to protect his children makes him one of the most human characters ever to grace Middle-earth, while Kili (Aidan Turner) and Tauriel's (Evangeline Lilly) romance is undeniably touching.

As both hero and antagonist at various points, this is in large part Armitage's film though. Thorin's descent into madness under the dragon's taint is played out with maniacal intensity. His grim rebuff of Bard's diplomatic overtures (the exchange framed beautifully by a hole in Erebor's barricade) and final, hallucinatory epiphany upon a floor of burnished gold are as masterfully shot as they are powerfully delivered. Thorin is undeniably a danger to everyone under his rule, yet Armitage never allows him to become a monster, allowing glimpses of the good man he was before to shine through. Bilbo, by contrast, is a portrait of quiet understatement. Martin Freeman has grown into the part like a second skin, his warmth and honesty underpinning the hobbit's self-effacing befuddlement. It's not until the end, with the film's most effective piece of foreshadowing, that we see cracks in his character as the Ring exerts its influence.

At under two and a half hours, there's little excess weight on The Hobbit: The Battle Of Five Armies. Jackson has been judicious with the edit, jettisoning anything deemed not essential to the tale at hand. It's smart work and the film never drags but it doesn't come without cost. What could have been the stand out set piece is largely squandered, Elrond and Saruman facing off against the Nazgul in a spectacular but short lived altercation at Dol Guldur. It's a minor disappointment in an otherwise gratifying conclusion, though, and one that may yet be addressed. With the numerous threads left unresolved (Legolas' pursuit of Bolg at Smaug's finale is abandoned entirely) and key appearances truncated (Beorn's return lasts a single shot), we can presumably look forward to a far weightier Extended Edition when it arrives this time next year.

While the debate will continue to rage over whether The Hobbit needed to be split into three movies, The Hobbit: The Battle Of Five Armies is a fitting conclusion to Jackson's prequel trilogy and a triumphant farewell to Middle-earth. Now complete, The Hobbit stands as a worthy successor to The Lord Of The Rings, albeit one that never quite emerges from its shadow. Jackson has crafted a grand old tale to do J.R.R. Tolkien proud, and with a single, simple bow in the final moments, one that offers a far simpler send-off than The Lord Of The Rings: The Return of the King (2003) ever did.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

First trailer for Still Alice arrives online

Sony Pictures Classics have just released their first trailer for Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland's (The Last Of Robin Hood) Still Alice.

Julianne Moore (Crazy, Stupid, Love.) stars as Dr. Alice Howland, a happily married and highly renowned linguistics professor. But in the midst of a lecture, she starts to forget words, and her family, including her husband John (Alec Baldwin) and daughter Lydia (Kristen Stewart) begin to worry when Alice loses track of time and important dates.

Alice is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's Disease, and the whole family finds their bonds thoroughly tested. She's soon struggling to stay connected to who she is and those she loves the most.

Moore is already garnering plenty of awards talk for her role, and the film as a whole is getting a lot of praise for its sensitive handling of a clearly difficult subject.

Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland adapted Lisa Genova's novel for the screen, and have co-directed this one, which also features Kate Bosworth (Straw Dogs), Seth Gilliam (Did You Hear About The Morgans?), Hunter Parrish (It's Complicated) and Shane McRae (The Help). Still Alice will arrive in UK cinemas on 6 March.

First trailer for The Last 5 Years arrives online

Icon have just released their first trailer for Richard LaGravenese's (P.S. I Love You) The Last 5 Years.

Between Rob Marshall's (Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) Into The Woods, Pitch Perfect 2 and now The Last 5 Years, 2015 is shaping up to be the year Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect) sings. And like Into The Woods, there's more than just fairy tale romance to be found in the latter.

The Last 5 Years, adapted from Jason Robert Brown's stage musical by Richard LaGravenese, is the story of the love affair between struggling actress Cathy Hiatt (Kendrick) and up and coming novelist Jamie Wellerstein (Jeremy Jordan).

This one takes an intriguing narrative track with its story and its songs – Jamie's view runs from their initial encounters through to the end of their marriage, while Cathy's is in reverse, spinning back the clock from unhappy endings to ebullient beginning, meeting briefly in the middle on their wedding day. It'll be interesting to see how the show's concept works on screen – one assumes you can explore more of the story and the characters. Plus Kendrick, in particular, always makes for an appealing main presence.

With Natalie Knepp (Going The Distance), Alan Simpson (This Is How The World Ends), Nic Novicki (Life Happens) and Allison Macri also in the cast, The Last 5 Years will be out in the US on 13 February, but has yet to receive a UK release beyond some time next year.

Roberto Orci no longer directing Star Trek 3

Collective eyebrows were raised higher than Mr. Spock's when Roberto Orci – intimately linked with the franchise through co-writing and producing J.J. Abrams' first two Star Trek films – announced he was directing the third outing for the Starship Enterprise, despite zero helming experience. So it's perhaps less surprising to report that he's no longer calling the shots.

No reason was given for his departure, but he will be staying on the film as executive producer, especially since he's been overseeing the script he has co-written with J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay. Perhaps, as production crept towards him, he simply decided he wasn't ready to go from no directing experience to a massive, technically complicated film in one step.

So who might take on the job now? Deadline has heard that Edgar Wright (The World's End) is among those on the shortlist to tackle the gig, and while he would be a fine – he and the current Star Trek films' Scotty (Simon Pegg) have a bit of a history, after all, plus he has a proven track record for juggling large scale effects work with emotion – the recent Ant-Man experience may have made him wary. Can an Edgar Wright style film fit in with the needs of an established blockbuster universe?

We'll have to wait and see who eventually takes a seat in the big chair, but with Paramount Pictures looking to have the film shooting next year ready for a 2016 release (to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the franchise as a whole), they'll need to be in place soon.

Toho planning new Godzilla

Back in 1995, legendary Japanese film studio Toho killed off their signature creation Godzilla to make way for the then developing Hollywood version by Roland Emmerich. Fast forward to now and the situation is somewhat different. Toho – having rebooted the giant lizard after Emmerich's 1998 debacle – ended their series once again with Final Wars (2004). Now news arrives via Variety that they're now planning a comeback which in all likelihood will run alongside Gareth Edwards' latest western incarnation.

Ironically it's the success of the new Hollywood Godzilla that's prompted the revival of the old one. Having raked in half a billion dollars in worldwide box office, Edward's Godzilla has been viewed in Japan as something of a gauntlet.

"The time has come," says Toho producer Taichi Ueda, "for Japan to make a film that will not lose to Hollywood." He also suggests there's a further impetus – the intention is to create a new Godzilla that "will represent Japan and be loved around the world" by the time of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

There's no production team in place yet, let alone a screenplay. But there is a committee of studio executives and directors forming a Godzilla Strategic Conference to plan how to move forward. So far they have decided to build a statue in Shinjuku.

That should have risen by next April, while the film itself – Toho's 29th Godzilla outing – has been earmarked for shooting next summer and a 2016 release.

Gareth Edwards's second Godzilla, meanwhile, is due out in June, 2018.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Robert Schwentke locked in for Allegiant

After Divergent director Neil Burger opted not to return for the follow-up, Insurgent, RED (2010) director Robert Schwentke stepped in to replace him. Fortunately for Lionsgate, the company won't have to find another choice for the third film, Allegiant: Part 1, as Schwentke has also signed to direct the next outing.

The company is clearly happy with Schwentke's work on Insurgent – one of the first stills from the film is lurking above, showing Four (Theo James), Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Caleb (Ansel Elgort) on the run – and is eager for him to pull off a similar trick to Francis Lawrence, who shot The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) plus both chunks of the The Hunger Games: Mockingjay adaptation, the first of which is currently soaring at the box office.

Whether Schwentke stays put for the second Allegiant film remains to be seen, though Lionsgate may try to tempt him to shoot both entries back to back, as with Mockingjay.

Insurgent sees Tris and the rest still trying to fight back in future Chicago as she and Four evade the power-hungry Erudite leader Jeanine (Kate Winslet). They will have to track down what Tris's family gave their lives to protect, and Tris must face up to her choices as she unlocks the truth about the past and the future of their world.

The film will be out on 20 March next year with Allegiant: Part 1 scheduled for 18 March 2016 and Part 2 the following year.

New full length Trailer for Inside Out arrives online

Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar have just released their latest full length trailer for Pete Docter's (Up) Inside Out.

We may have suffered through a year without a new Pixar film, but 2015 is shaping up to be a good one with two releases from the company – Inside Out and delayed effort The Good Dinosaur.

Sprung from the mind of Monsters Inc. (2001) and Up (2009) director Pete Docter, Inside Out is the story of a little girl called Riley, an 11 year-old who has moved with her family to San Francisco. More specifically, however, the focus is in her mind, exploring how memories are formed and how a mixture of five emotions – Joy (Amy Poehler), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear
(Bill Hader) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) – define her life experiences.

Given the high concept conceit, the trailer sensibly avoids darting around the story in favour of playing out a sequence in full to help us wrap our minds around it. While it would probably be inappropriate to namecheck Woody Allen's Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid To Ask) (1972) at this point, Docter's film does mine similarly rich comic terrain in having the brain running haywire like an asylum overrun by its lunatics.

Inside Out is released on 24 July.

"My world is fire and blood."

Warner Bros have just released their first trailer and latest one sheet for George Miller's post-apocalyptic adventure Mad Max: Fury Road.

The Mad Max reboot – which finds Tom Hardy (Lawless) taking over the iconic role from Mel Gibson for a new interpretation – promises a return to the stark, post-apocalyptic wasteland where society has long since broken down and lawlessness rules.

But in this world of blood, fire and death there are two rebels who might just be able to restore order. Max is still seeking peace of mind after the deaths of his wife and child, and now battles bad guys wherever he finds them. Then there is Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), a shaven-headed woman of action who is trying to survive a long, gruelling trip across the desert to reach her homeland. Along the way, we'll be treated to what Miller has described as one long chase scene, full of action and madness. Arguably the very foundations for a Mad Max outing.

With Nicholas Hoult (Warm Bodies), Riley Keough (The Runaways), Zoë Kravitz (X-Men: First Class), Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (Transformers: Dark Of The Moon), Hugh Keays-Byrne (Sleeping Beauty), Nathan Jones (Conan The Barbarian), Abbey Lee Kershaw and Courtney Eaton in the cast, Mad Max: Fury Road is out on 15 May next year.

New red band trailer and one sheet for Kingsman: The Secret Service arrives online

20th Century Fox have just released their latest red band 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 trailer and one sheet for Robert Zemeckis' The Walk arrives online

Sony Pictures have just released their first trailer one sheet for Robert Zemeckis' (Flight) The Walk.

For anyone who has seen Man On Wire, the documentary directed so adroitly by The Theory Of Everything's James Marsh, you will already be familiar with tightrope maverick and all-round daredevil Petite Philippe and his World Trade Centre spanning exploits in 1974.

Giving the death-defying feat a fresh big-screen spin is Zemeckis's The Walk, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Looper) as Philippe.

Like Marsh's documentary, Zemeckis' film seems likely to pitch the yarn as a kind of heist thriller by other means. "He wasn't trying to steal money or sell plutonium," says the director, who interviewed Petit for hours, adapting the script with Christopher Browne from the performance artist's memoir To Reach The Clouds: My High Wire Walk Between The Twin Towers. "He was just trying to create performance art. And he created this beautiful, human moment that changed the way we looked at the towers."

Interestingly the film is set to be shown in 3D and IMAX, a combination that surely threatens to leave anyone of a sensitive disposition a gibbering wreck on the floor.

Starring alongside Gordon-Levitt are Charlotte Le Bon (Mood Indigo), James Badge Dale (World War Z), Ben Schwartz (Runner Runner) and Ben Kingsley (Hugo). The Walk is scheduled to arrive here on 2 October 2015. And remember, don't look down.

First one sheet for Corin Hardy's The Hallow arrives online

Freshly recruited to helm The Crow (1994) remake, thanks in part to references provided by one Edgar Wright (The World's End), British director Corin Hardy will be showing off his filmmaking bona fides first hand next year when his debut horror The Hallow hits our screens. The first one sheet for the monster movie arrived online last week via Empire Online.

With its director citing classic horrors like Alien (1979), The Evil Dead (1981) and The Thing (1982) as boyhood inspirations, The Hallow will mingle the real world and the fantastical in a way that should thrill fans of early Guillermo del Toro (The Devil's Backbone). It tells the tale of a conservationist (The Awakening's Joseph Mawle), his wife (Drag Me To Hell's Bojana Novakovic) and their child who move into the Irish countryside where they soon unwittingly disturb the local 'wildlife'.

Says Hardy: "It's an honour to have our teaser poster for my first film, The Hallow (formerly working-titled 'The Woods'), brought to the world via Empire. Getting into Sundance feels like the perfect place to unleash it, crawling from the darkness and into the cinema. I hope Empire readers enjoy the ride when the film arrives next year, but until then, a word of warning – especially for any readers living close to any forest or stretch of woodland... The Hallow are coming for all you hold dear."

The Hallow will debut as one of Sundance Film Festivals midnight screenings in late January, before arriving on UK screens later in 2015. Look out for more news on Hardy's new take on The Crow, which has Luke Evans (The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug) attached as the titular antihero, as we get it.

First trailer and stills for San Andreas rumble online

Warner Bros have just released their first trailer and stills for Brad Peyton's (Journey 2: The Mysterious Island) San Andreas. Find somewhere safe to watch and point your eyes below.

In the new disaster thriller, Dwayne Johnson (Fast & Furious 6) is Ray, a talented rescue pilot who is cut off from his daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario) when The Big One, the mother (nature) of all earthquakes hits California. With the City of Angels and much of southern California's coastline in shambles, Ray teams up with his ex-wife Emma (Carla Gugino) to rescue their child, who is stuck in San Francisco. But if Paul Giamatti's (Saving Mr. Banks) expert is to be believed, the situation may be even worse than he suspects. "It all goes down. The damage, destruction, the loss of lives," Johnson tells USA Today. "Everything that you know on the West Coast doesn't see tomorrow."

As for the actor, he learned a new perspective and got some new found respect for the power of the planet. "Now we have multiple earthquake kits at home. And when you realise the magnitude of this, you go home grateful for the days you have," he says. "It gives you a different perspective. It makes you stop and think that there's no beating Mother Nature. She's the toughest mama around."

With Brad Peyton going full Roland Emmerich (2012) this time, expect chaos, shouting and lots of computer generated destruction. San Andreas will be out here on 29 May.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Mr. White set to return in SPECTRE

Those of you who were quick to lament that the return of SPECTRE might mean the continuing abandonment of Quantum can now take heart. He was missing from the official unveiling of the 24th Bond movie last week, but news now arrives via European that Jesper Christensen (Quantum Of Solace) has confirmed he will be returning to the role of Mr. White in the new film.

Mr. White was the liaison for the mysterious criminal organisation Quantum in both Casino Royale (2006) and Quantum Of Solace (2008).

After that, the rest was silence, and there was nary a mention of Quantum or Mr. White in Skyfall (2012). But, says Christensen now, "I am looking forward to working with Sam Mendes and Daniel Craig. It is a truly exciting script and a very capable team. So it'll be fun..." Let the speculation of how Quantum and SPECTRE are connected begin.

Like Goldfinger (1964), Skyfall seems to be taking its place as a standalone adventure in the middle of an ongoing narrative, arguably making SPECTRE the rebooted series' Thunderball (1965).

Directed once again by Sam Mendes (Skyfall), SPECTRE stars Daniel Craig as Bond, of course, Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained), Andrew Scott (Sherlock), Monica Belluci (Irreversible), Dave Bautista (Guardians Of The Galaxy) and Léa Seydoux (Blue Is The Warmest Colour), plus returning MI6 allies Ralph Fiennes as M, Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, Ben Whishaw as Q and Rory Kinnear as Tanner.

The script for SPECTRE, which will also see 007 drive the new Aston Martin DB10, was written by Skyfall scribe John Logan, along with Bond stalwarts Neal Purvis and Robert Wade.

Skyfall cinematographer Roger Deakins is not part of Bond 24's team, with Hoyte van Hoytema (Interstellar) taking his place.

Shooting is already underway and will take in Pinewood, London, Mexico City, Rome, plus Tangier and Erfoud in Morocco. The film arrives, with Mr. White in its boot, on 23 October next year.

First one sheet for Terminator: Genisys arrives online

Paramount Pictures have just released their one sheet for Alan Taylor's (Thor: The Dark World) Terminator: Genisys.

Kicking off in the Future War, with Jason Clarke's (Zero Dark Thirty) battle scarred and embittered John Connor, things appear normal for the Terminator franchise. But when Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) volunteers to go back in time and save John's mother, Sarah (Emilia Clarke), he arrives to discover that the timeline has been tinkered with and things are very different.

This is not the Sarah Connor we first met in The Terminator (1984). Instead, this Sarah has lost her parents to a Terminator attack but raised by an ageing version of Arnold Schwarzenegger's T-800. And Kyle will need her help when an Asian model of the morphing metal T-1000 threatens his life.

Together, Sarah and Kyle must figure out what has happened and find a way to once more stop Judgment Day from happening. There's certainly a lot to take in here – this thing is chock full of nods to the first two films (and, to a lesser extent, Terminator Salvation's war torn future), but some of them feel like channelling nostalgia in the hopes of drawing a reaction. Still, it's fun to ponder Arnie taking on himself and all the little elements lurking within. Director Alan Taylor and his team have clearly gone all out with the set pieces, though the Golden Gate Bridge must be wishing somewhere else would get a turn at chaos...

With Byung-hun Lee (G.I. Joe: Retaliation), Matt Smith (Doctor Who), J.K. Simmons (Contraband), Dayo Okeniyi (The Hunger Games) and Sandrine Holt (Underworld: Awakening) among the cast, Terminator: Genisys is set to arrive in our cinemas on 3 July next year.

Ryan Reynolds locked in as Deadpool

Though it would seem to be little more than a formality at this point, there was no official confirmation, when 20th Century Fox announced that the Deadpool film was actually happening, that Ryan Reynolds (Buried) would return. Word now arrives via Deadline that he is busy making a deal for the film, and announced the news somewhat less than cryptically via his Twitter page.

Deadline, meanwhile, reports that he's in the middle of closing a deal for the film, which special effects wizard turned director Tim Miller will wrangler together starting in March.

Despite his eventually silenced form in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), the character best known as Wade Wilson, the Merc With A Mouth is normally found chattering away about everything, and even breaking the fourth wall as he goes about his missions. Zombieland (2009) writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick have written the script, and have said in the past that they intend to honour the character's wisecracking, meta nature. The test footage that arrived online in the middle of the year certainly kept that spirit intact.

So now the near indestructible hero should arrive properly on our screens finally in 2016. And intriguingly, the report mentions that this is a collaboration between 20th Century Fox and Marvel Studios – so could we one day see Deadpool meeting some of his non Fox owned Marvel pals? As always, watch this space.

Chris Pratt in early talks for The Magnificent Seven

Not content with signing up for Universal Pictures Cowboy Ninja Viking adaption, Chris Pratt (Guardians Of The Galaxy) is circling a role that would require only one of those abilities – according to Deadline, he is in early talks to snatch a role in the new Magnificent Seven.

Denzel Washington is already locked in to star in this one, which his The Equalizer collaborator Antoine Fuqua is directing. John Sturges' 1960 take on the story – itself a remake of Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai – saw a Mexican peasant village persuading seven gunfighters to help protect them from bandits.

Fuqua's version, which boasts a script featuring contributions from John Lee Hancock (Snow White And The Huntsman) and Nic Pizzolatto (True Detective), is reportedly set after the Civil War, as the Wild West era is coming to an end.

MGM is backing this one, hoping to finally get the long-gestating film into production next year. If he signs, Pratt would play a character named Farraday who has been created for the current take on the tale. And it would mean Fuqua and producers would only need to find five more members of the posse...

Still a star of Parks And Recreation on the small screen, Pratt can next be seen at the multiplex in a little movie called Jurassic World, set to arrive here on the 12 June next year.

Walt Disney Pictures acquires Nottingham And Hood

The names Walt Disney and Robin Hood in the same sentence may well cast your minds immediately back to an animated fox causing trouble for a hapless lion and his snake henchman. That may be about to change, however, since Walt Disney Pictures have recently put a brand new Robin Hood project into development. News arrives via Deadline that The Mouse House have acquired Nottingham And Hood – a spec screenplay by newcomer Brandon Barker.

There are few details so far about the thrust of the story, but buckles, it's fair to say, are likely to be swashed. The scuttlebutt is that Barker's is a revisionist take on the venerable English legend, and that Walt Disney Pictures are looking at a Pirates Of The Caribbean tone and a possible new franchise.

Nottingham And Hood is, of course, not the only Robin Hood project currently in the works. Sony Pictures recently paid $1 million for Hood, from a pitch by Cory Goodman (Priest) and Jeremy Lott. That, too, is being touted as not only a franchise, but a shared universe affair including Merry Men spin-off movies.

It's a battle of the Hoods then, strangely echoing the situation in the early 1990s when Kevin Reynold's Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves (with Kevin Costner and Alan Rickman) and John Irvin's Robin Hood (with Patrick Bergin and Edward Fox) arrived more or less simultaneously. One of those did rather better than the other.

With Ridley Scott's Robin Hood (2010) and the BBC TV series still in very recent memory (not to mention a Doctor Who episode this year), we could soon find ourselves with Nottingham outlaw fatigue syndrome. Neither of the new projects have found a director, cast or start date as yet, so we're safe for a while. As always, watch this space.

First trailer for Noah Baumbach's While We're Young arrives online

A24 Films have just released their first trailer for Noah Baumbach's (Frances Ha) While We're Young.

Although he announced the film back in 2010, Noah Baumbach's reunion with his Greenburg (2010) star Ben Stiller had to sit and wait while Frances Ha (2012) took all of the director's attention.

The new comedy drama finds Stiller and Naomi Watts (The Impossible) as Josh and Cornelia, a middle-aged couple who are beginning to wonder where their lives are headed. They've been flirting with the idea of having kids, but mostly because they can't think what else to do.

But then they meet and starting hanging out with hipsters Jamie (Adam Driver) and Darby (Amanda Seyfried), a twentysomething couple who help them recapture a little of the spirit of youth, even if their own friends and Josh's dad Leslie (Charles Grodin) can't quite see the appeal...

Looking like another quiet, thoughtful winner from Baumbach, the film also features Brady Corbet (Melancholia), Maria Dizzia (Martha Marcy May Marlene), James Saito (Life Of Pi) and Adam Horovitz.

While We're Young is set to arrive in US cinemas on 27 March before heading over here on 3 April.

The Crow finds a new director

The film has been battling it's way through development limbo for several years now, burning through different directors and potential casting choices. But the new cinematic take on James O'Barr's graphic novel The Crow may finally be back on track, with news arriving via Deadline that Corin Hardy is now set to direct.

Hardy will be stepping in to replace F. Javier Gutiérrez (Before The Fall), who had been lining up to direct but has switched instead to focus on a new Ring horror movie. Luke Evans (The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug) is still attached to play Eric Draven, murdered by thugs alongside his fiancée, who is brought back to vengeful life by mysterious forces to hunt down his attackers.

Cliff Dorfman (Warrior) wrote the most recent draft of the script, and producer Edward R. Pressman (American Psycho) hopes to have production under way in the spring. Hardy may not be a well known mainstream name yet, but he is certainly aiming to change that. It doesn't hurt that he was recommended to Pressman by none other than Edgar Wright (The World's End). He has his debut film The Hallow due out next year and has been building a reputation as an commercials, music video and short film director, including his praised stop-motion piece Butterfly.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Jonah Hill and Miles Teller in talks for Arms And The Dudes

Back in September director Todd Phillips (The Hangover) had Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network) and Shia LaBeouf (Lawless) in the frame to lead his true life stoner CIA farce Arms And The Dudes. A delay to the start date sadly means both have had to drop out citing scheduling conflicts, however, and Phillips is now talking to Jonah Hill (The Wolf Of Wall Street) and Miles Teller (The Spectacular Now) about stepping into the breach.

The film is based on an article for Guy Lawson wrote for Rolling Stone in 2011. The 'stranger than fiction' premise involves two Miami slackers, David Packouz and Efraim Diveroli, who penetrated the 'grey world' of international arms dealing and ended up with the Pentagon as a client. But a $300m contract to supply arms to America's allies in Afghanistan soon sent them seriously out of their depth in a very dangerous world.

Hill, of course, has a proven track record both in stoner comedies and dramatic pieces like The Wolf Of Wall Street (2013) and Moneyball (2011). Teller, meanwhile, has the new Fantastic Four on the way, but seemed to come close to disowning the young adult Divergent franchise recently. He's also partied hard in the likes of Project X (2012) and 21 And Over (2013), but is about to make his impressive dramatic breakout in Whiplash.

Phillips has been rewriting the screenplay since May, and had hoped to be in production this year. Hill was actually close to being attached at the very beginning of the project, but had to drop out because of scheduling problems. So it looks like we've now come full circle. He's currently shooting The Coen brothers' (No Country For Old Men) Hail, Caesar! but will presumably be available for Phillips again early in the New Year.

New motion poster and trailer for Terminator: Genisys arrives online

Paramount Pictures have just released their first motion poster and trailer for Alan Taylor's (Thor: The Dark World) Terminator: Genisys.

Kicking off in the Future War, with Jason Clarke's (Zero Dark Thirty) battle scarred and embittered John Connor, things appear normal for the Terminator franchise. But when Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) volunteers to go back in time and save John's mother, Sarah (Emilia Clarke), he arrives to discover that the timeline has been tinkered with and things are very different.

This is not the Sarah Connor we first met in The Terminator (1984). Instead, this Sarah has lost her parents to a Terminator attack but raised by an ageing version of Arnold Schwarzenegger's T-800. And Kyle will need her help when an Asian model of the morphing metal T-1000 threatens his life.

Together, Sarah and Kyle must figure out what has happened and find a way to once more stop Judgment Day from happening. There's certainly a lot to take in here – this thing is chock full of nods to the first two films (and, to a lesser extent, Terminator Salvation's war-torn future), but some of them feel like channelling nostalgia in the hopes of drawing a reaction. Still, it's fun to ponder Arnie taking on himself and all the little elements lurking within. Director Alan Taylor and his team have clearly gone all out with the set pieces, though the Golden Gate Bridge must be wishing somewhere else would get a turn at chaos...

With Byung-hun Lee (G.I. Joe: Retaliation), Matt Smith (Doctor Who), J.K. Simmons (Contraband), Dayo Okeniyi (The Hunger Games) and Sandrine Holt (Underworld: Awakening) among the cast, Terminator: Genisys is set to arrive in our cinemas on 3 July next year.

Fantastic Four plot synopsis arrives online

It may not hit cinemas until August next year, but 20th Century Fox has been remarkably withholding when it comes to imagery or footage from Josh Trank's (Chronicle) The Fantastic Four. But there is, at least, an official synopsis of the film.

As released by the studio and reported by Rotten Tomatoes, the film's basic pitch runs: "The Fantastic Four, a contemporary reimagining of Marvel's original and longest-running superhero team, centres on four young outsiders who teleport to an alternate and dangerous universe, which alters their physical form in shocking ways. Their lives irrevocably upended, the team must learn to harness their daunting new abilities and work together to save Earth from a former friend turned enemy."

It appears to be a new take on the origin story for the heroes – here in the shape of Miles Teller (Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic), Kate Mara (Sue Storm/Invisible Girl), Michael B. Jordan (Johnny Storm/The Human Torch) and Jamie Bell (Ben Grimm/The Thing) – as they traditionally got their various abilities from exposure to strange space radiation. And this is much more in line with Marvel's Ultimate Fantastic Four take on the characters. We'll find out how closely in line soon enough, as well as learning how much Trank and his team have altered Dr. Doom, played by Toby Kebbell (War Horse), who recently let slip that his character's origin has also been tweaked.

The Fantastic Four is out here on 6 August 2015.

Chadwick Boseman discusses Black Panther

Rumoured and in development for several years, the adaptation of Marvel Comics' Black Panther series finally became official when studio boss Kevin Feige brought Chadwick Boseman (42) on stage to join Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans (The Avengers) on stage at the company's recent big future announcement event. Now, as part of Variety's Actors On Actors interview series, Boseman has opened up about his role.

"I'm beyond excited," he tells Logan Lerman (3:10 To Yuma). "It's like to the point where you feel numb and then your mind goes off into, 'Okay, how do I achieve that?' But I think the great thing about it is that this actual character is unique in a lot of ways. I can't think of another character that's the leader of a nation and is a superhero at the same time. There are a lot of different ways this story can go, you know, and ways that they can do it, so I'm really just excited about how it fits into the bigger picture of what Marvel is doing."

At the event, Feige indicated that Boseman's character – T'Challa, the African prince who becomes a hero as part of his royal family's legacy – would be introduced as part of the third Captain America film, Civil War, which sees Cap go up against Tony Stark in a clash of ethics. But one of Boseman's comments in the chat with Lerman points to the possibility that he may appear more than once before his character's film arrives in 2017.

Asked whether there was a director for the Black Panther outing, Boseman said, "There's a director on the movies that I'm introduced, but not for Black Panther. But just being a part of that discussion is huge. You know, you're reading the comic books and you have ideas about how that's gonna happen and you can discuss that." Naturally, nothing has been confirmed by Marvel beyond his Civil War appearance.

Black Panther (the film) will stalk on to our screens on 27 October 2017.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Nazanin Boniadi set for Ben-Hur

Timur Bekmambetov's (Wanted) new take on Ben-Hur has finally found its female lead after Gal Gador dropped out in favour of the Zack Snyder's (Man Of Steel) small indie comic-book curios Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice and Michelle MacLaren's (Game Of Thrones) Wonder Woman. News arrives via Deadline that Homeland star Nazanin Boniadi has grabbed the gig, fending off plenty of other competition by performing the best "chemistry read" with Jack Huston (Boardwalk Empire).

Huston is, of course, Judah Ben-Hur himself, with Boniadi playing Esther, the daughter of the slave Simonides.

Taken once again from Lew Wallace's 1880 novel, the new version aims to chronicle the younger days of Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston) and Messala (Toby Kebbell), best friends growing up in Jerusalem. Ben-Hur is a Jewish prince and Messala the son of a Roman tax collector who is packed off to be educated in Rome for five years. Upon his return, Messala mocks our hero for his religion and, after an accident he pins on his friend, has him sold into slavery. Cue a quest for revenge that is set to include the iconic chariot race.

Morgan Freeman (The Dark Knight Rises) is already aboard to play Ildarin, the man who teaches Ben-Hur how to be a master at the reins for the races. Ayelet Zurer (Man Of Steel), meanwhile, will be back on Hero's Mother duty, playing Naomi, Ben-Hur's mum, while Pedro Pascal (The Adjustment Bureau) is also down to play a part. Keith Clarke (The Way Back) wrote the original script, which John Ridley (12 Years A Slave) has since re-written.

Boniadi was previously in Iron Man (2008) and The Next Three Days (2010), and was the original Girl in Ana Lily Amirpour's short A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (now replaced by Sheila Vand for the feature version). She's currently shooting the fifth season of Homeland, in which she plays CIA operative Fara Sherazi.

Bekmambetov plans to start shooting on Ben-Hur early next year in Italy, for a release on 19 February 2016.

Matt Reeves eyes bank heist thriller

After having a great year with his acclaimed simian sequel Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, Matt Reeves is looking to stay in the world of Caesar and his hairy cohorts, kicking off work on the third of the new Planet Of The Apes movies. But after that? News arrives via The Hollywood Reporter that he's considering his options, and has signed on to direct an untitled bank heist film.

Matt Charman (Our Zoo) came up with the idea, and clearly had a great pitch for the potential film in addition to his calling card, writing the earliest drafts of the script for Steven Spielberg's (Lincoln) latest, a Cold War spy tale.

Charman, who worked on the original concept with Tobey Maguire's producing partner Matt Plouffe (Dunny), is keeping the plot a secret for now. According to The Hollywood Reporter, it brings to mind Heat (1995) and Dog Day Afternoon (1975).

After Reeves expressed an interest, Planet Of The Apes studio 20th Century Fox made a swift bid for the spec and Charman will now write the script itself, ready for the director to make after he finishes the third of The Planet Of The Apes outing, which is due to arrive here on 28 July 2016, the day before it launches in the States.

Amber Heard considers The Danish Girl

Tom Hooper followed up The King's Speech (2010) with Les Misérables (2012), but since then he's been trying to find his next project. Word comes via Deadline that he has been busy developing The Danish Girl, and has Amber Heard (The Rum Diary) in talks for a role.

The Danish Girl finds Hooper re-teaming with Les Misérables Eddie Redmayne for a film inspired by a true story. Based on a 2000 bestseller by David Ebershoff, it will chronicle Danish painter Einar Wegener's life as he became the first man to undergo a sex change operation in the early 1930s, becoming Lili Elbe. Alicia Vikander (Anna Karenina) is already attached to co-star as Wegener's wife, Gerda, while Heard is circling the role of Oola.

Currently scripted by Lucinda Coxon (Wild Target), this one has been developing for a few years, with Nicole Kidman (Stoker), Gwyneth Paltrow (Contagion), Charlize Theron (Prometheus) and director Tomas Alfredson (Let The Right One In) all attached at various points.

As for Heard, she recently worked on London Fields, The Adderall Diaries and has a role in Gregory Jacobs' (Wind Chill) Magic Mike XXL.

Source Code sequel in the works

News arrived via Variety last week that Vendome Pictures have decided to produce a follow-up to Duncan Jones' Source Code (2011), despite the story wrapping up quite neatly. While Jones won't be back for the new film (he's currently busy polishing his giant Warcraft tentpole), Anna Foerster (Criminal Minds) is set to take the reins.

Naturally, nothing has been revealed about the new film's plot. Though presumably, it will spin a new tale following the project that saw Jake Gyllenhaal's character experiencing the last eight minutes of someone else's life during a terrorist attack on a train to try to stop the bombing.

The original film's writer, Ben Ripley, will once again be on script duty for this one, but no casting has been announced, so we don't know if any of the original actors around Gyllenhaal – Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright and Michelle Monaghan – or even the man himself, will return. He's unlikely given that – spoiler alert – it was revealed he was close to death all along (and the timeline was reset in any regard).

As for Foerster, she's a veteran of Roland Emmerich's (Anonymous) films having served as his director of photographer and second unit director. She's also a regular collaborator with producer Mark Gordon, working on TV shows such as Criminal Minds and Army Wives.

Gordon is driving the new Source Code, but with no distributor set up yet, there's obviously no release date to report. As always, watch this space.

Jean-Claude Van Damme set for The Kickboxer remake

The team behind the Kickboxer (1989) remake might have been disappointed when Tony Jaa (Ong-Bak) had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts, especially with the film about to start shooting. All those worries have been swiftly banished, however, with word of a real coup – Jean-Claude Van Damme (The Expendables 2) has agreed to sign on in his place.

Yes, the man who saw his career launch with films like the original Kickboxer is stepping in to play a martial arts master who trains a vengeful warrior. Stuntman and actor Alain Moussi (White House Down) takes over the leading mantle as Kurt Sloan, a talented fighter who heads to Thailand intending to learn the secrets of advanced kickboxing mostly so he can confront Tong Po (Dave Bautista), the man who killed his brother.

"We are so excited to have Kickboxer roll into production and to have JCVD in the role of Master Chow, passing the torch to Alain, to have him lead the franchise to a new generation " says producer Ted Field. John Stockwell (Cat Run) is directing this one, kicking off shooting – pun intended and unapologetically delivered – this week in New Orleans before finishing up production in Thailand.