Saturday, 31 January 2015

Ben Affleck and David Fincher reunite for Strangers On A Train remake

The team behind Gone Girl (2014) are reuniting for another dark tale of suspense and danger. Only this time, they're headed for remake territory. News arrives via Deadline that David Fincher, Ben Affleck and screenwriter Gillian Flynn are set to create a new version of Alfred Hitchcock's Strangers On A Train (1951).

The new thriller, currently just called Strangers, tweaks some of the details as it updates the story. Flynn will write the script about a film star (Affleck) deep in the middle of an Oscar campaign who needs to hitch a ride when the private plane he's been using to jet around the country breaks down. He believes his luck has changed when a wealthy stranger offers him a lift to Los Angeles on his own swanky airborne craft. Things take a turn for the complicated from there.

Much of the detail is as yet undisclosed, so only time will tell to see how the new movie compares to Hitchcock's original in terms of plot. The 1951 film, adapted from Patricia Highsmith's novel, saw Farley Granger playing Guy Haines, a bored tennis professional who meets a stranger on a train (Robert Walker) and concocts a scheme to swap murderous acts with the wealthy socialite psycho in the hopes that they can both get away scot free. It doesn't quite work out that way, of course...

Warner Bros has been eager to snap this one up, and the studio is looking for Affleck to squeeze this one in between directing and starring in Live By Night and segueing to Zack Snyder's (Man Of Steel) Justice League film. Such a high level of filmmaking talent and a big name title won't save this one from the usual concerns about remakes, but it should have enough of a compelling idea to justify revisiting a Hitchcock classic.

20th Century Fox overseeing Escape From New York remake

The remake of John Carpenter's cult favourite, action adventure Escape From New York (1981), has floundered in development hell for several years now. Directors, scripts, studios and casting suggestions have come and gone, but has edged no closer to hitting our screens. Things may be about to change, however, with news arriving via Deadline that 20th Century Fox has won the rights to the film in a bidding war and will develop yet another reinvention – this time with Carpenter attached as an executive producer.

According to Deadline, Carpenter's role will be to have "creative influence" over the project, in whatever fashion that ends up being. There is no indication as yet over what this latest potential film will do to the original plot, in which Kurt Russell's mercenary Snake Plissken is sent to retrieve the American President from New York, which in the future has been turned into a heavily fortified maximum security prison. Given 22 hours to complete the job, the eye patch sporting anti-hero takes on all manner of villains, punks and psychopaths.

Versions including a Snake origin story and huge twists on the concept have come and gone, but 20th Century Fox are reportedly starting from scratch all over again, and the first task will be to find a filmmaking team. As always, watch this space.

Rodrigo Santoro set to play Jesus in Ben-Hur

Having played the gold-coated giant god emperor Xerxes in 300 (2006) and its sequel 300: Rise Of An Empire (2014), Rodrigo Santoro is now in line to play another religious icon. News arrives via The Hollywood Reporter that he is talks to play Jesus of Nazareth in MGM Pictures and Paramount Pictures' upcoming Ben-Hur remake. Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted) is directing.

In William Wyler's 1959 film, Jesus shows up towards the end. Charlton Heston's Ben-Hur takes the ailing Tirzah (Cathy O'Donnell) to be healed, but they arrive too late. Jesus' trial, presided over by Pontius Pilate (Frank Thring) has already begun, and Ben-Hur then witnesses the events of the crucifixion. Jesus was played on this occasion by the opera singer Claude Heater, although his name doesn't appear in the credits.

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. After an accident he pins on his friend, he has him sold into slavery, while imprisoning his mother and sister (Black-D'Elia). 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.

Bekmambetov plans to start cranking his Ben-Hur cameras imminently at Rome's famous Cinecittà Studios, for a release on 19 February 2016.

Brad Pitt gambling on financial drama The Big Short

Given the success of Moneyball (2011), it's perhaps not surprising that Brad Pitt (Inglourious Basterds) might want to be involved in another adaptation of one of Michael Lewis's nonfiction books, tricky as they may be to turn into films. News now arrives via Variety that he set to take on Lewis' financial drama The Big Short, with Christian Bale (The Dark Knight Rises) and Ryan Gosling (Drive) already on board.

Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy (2004) director Adam McKay has been developing this one for a while now, working up something very different from his usual comedy brand. Lewis' book, subtitled 'Inside The Doomsday Machine', follows several key people who had roles in creative the toxic credit bubble that sent the financial markets into panic mode. McKay, who is writing and directing the film, is reportedly looking for a group of big name actors who will fill a Traffic (2000) style ensemble. There's no indication as yet on how the first three will be involved.

Pitt is also planning to produce this one via his Plan B company, though there is no start date set yet. Still, given the names already board, we would imagine that studio backers Paramount Pictures will be eager to get this one moving. Pitt, last seen in Fury (2014), has worked on By The Sea, which co-stars and is directed by his wife, Angelina Jolie (Maleficent). Bale can currently be seen as Moses in Ridley Scott's (Prometheus) Exodus: Gods And Kings and will show up in Terrence Malick's (The Tree Of Life) two 2015 films, Knight Of Cups and its untitled fellow drama. As for Gosling, he has just finished shooting Shane Black's (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) new LA crime thriller The Nice Guys alongside Russell Crowe (Noah).

New trailer and one sheet for Unfriended arrives online

Universal Pictures have recently released their first trailer and one sheet for Levan Gabriadze's (Lucky Trouble) Skype based horror thriller Unfriended.

Preying on the social media lives and insecurities of a group of high school teenagers, is a mysterious stalking figure hunting bloody vengeance for a viral video that led directly to a suicide a year earlier. Is the girl who killed herself, a despised bully called Laura Barns (Heather Sossaman), back from the dead or is this the work of some other crazed lunatic with advanced tech skills? Either way, "billie227" has gory payback in mind.

With director Timur Bekmambetov (Night Watch) and producer Jason Blum (Insidious) the driving forces behind it, this one certainly isn't short of horror pedigree. The film's new one sheet sells its concept fairly neatly.

Unfriended makes its US bow on 17 April, before hitting UK screens on 1 May.

New red band trailer and one sheet for Spy arrives online

20th Century Fox have recently released their first red band trailer and one sheet for Paul Fieg's (The Heat) new espionage caper Spy.

Fieg's latest action comedy stars quite possibly the most cobbled together, astonishing cast ever. Any film that can boast 50 Cent (Escape Plan), Allison Janney (Juno), Jason Statham (The Expendables), Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) and Miranda Hart (Miranda) certainly has something going for it. An unhinged wrap party for one thing.

McCarthy is back for a third collaboration with writer/director Feig – soon to add a fourth in all-girl Ghostbusters (1984) reboot – and this time suits up as a deskbound CIA workaholic called Susan Cooper. When things go horribly awry for the Agency's spooks, she puts her hand up to help up out on a secret operation.

Cooper may not have expert field craft or weapons training, or for that matter, any idea of what she's doing, but she does have a tidy line in her mother's negative aphorisms ("making a wave isn't always brave, Susan") and judging by the trailer, she's a fast learner.

Also aboard is Bridesmaids (2011) alum Rose Byrne (X-Men: First Class), Jude Law (Sherlock Holmes: A Game Od Shadows), Bobby Cannavale (Chef) and Peter Serafinowicz (Guardians Of The Galaxy).

Spy creeps not too stealthily into our cinemas on 5 June.

Sofia Black-D'Elia set for Ben-Hur

She has been seen on screens big and small in the likes of Skins, Gossip Girl and The Immigrant (2013), but Sofia Black-D'Elia is preparing to take a step into blockbuster territory, with news arriving via Deadline that she has recently secured the role of Tirzah in Timur Bekmambetov's (Wanted) new take on Ben-Hur.

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. After an accident he pins on his friend, he has him sold into slavery, while imprisoning his mother and sister (a role that Olivia Cooke had been circling, but which Black-D'Elia will now fill). 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.

Black-D'Elia will next be seen in science fiction tale Project Almanac, which arrives here on 13 February. She is also currently part of the cast for US network series The Messengers.

Idris Elba set for Poe Must Die

Horror writer Edgar Allen Poe hasn't fared too well on screen in recent years. The Raven (2012), starring John Cussack, failed to set many hearts fluttering, while Sylvester Stallone's (The Expendable) Poe biopic never even got off the ground. Kudos to Idris Elba (Prometheus) then, who's ignoring those troubled projects and striding forth with one of his own. News arrives via Variety that he is currently developing Marc Olden's off-the-wall historical adventure Poe Must Die as a potential movie trilogy through his Green Door production company.

First published in 1978, Olden's weighty tome finds a depressed and frail Poe at the bottom of a bottle in 1840s New York. Recently arrived is English martial artist Pierce James Figg, who's been sent to find Poe by none other than Charles Dickens. Poe and Figg then join forces on the trail of the sorcerer who murdered Figg's wife and is himself searching for the Throne of Solomon, which he believes will give him immortality and power over all the demons of hell.

There's clearly scope here for a historical action romp along the lines of Guy Ritchies Sherlock Holmes (2009). There's no indication yet of whether Elba intends to appear in the film, or whether he's simply producing. But you'd have to suspect he's got his eye on Figg as a potential starring role.

There are no other names attached (or at least revealed) at the moment in the writing, directing or cast departments, so Poe Must Die is clearly some way off yet. We'll next see Elba alongside Sean Penn (Gangster Squad) in Pierre Morel's (Taken) The Gunman on 20 March, followed by Avengers: Age Of Ultron on 24 April and Second Coming on 8 May.

Olden's novel is currently out of print in book form, but is available digitally from Mysterious Press.

"I don't do romance..."

Universal Pictures have recently released their latest TV spot for Sam Taylor-Johnson's (Nowhere Boy) Fifty Shades Of Grey adaption.

Based on E.L. James' erotic novels, Fifty Shades Of Grey sees the young and virginal college student, Anastasia (Dakota Johnson), fall headlong for the charms of 27 year old billionaire, Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan), after interviewing him for her college newspaper. Having lost her virginity to Christian, he asks her to sign a non-disclosure agreement and a contract that keeps their relationship purely sexual, defining their relationship as one of dominance and submission.

Originally conceived as Twilight fan faction, Fifty Shades Of Grey has since surpassed that series to become a legitimate phenomenon in its own right with the trilogy being translated into 50 languages since its release. To date, the Fifty Shades trilogy has sold over 70 million copies worldwide in e-book and print, making it one of the fastest selling book series ever.

Fifty Shades Of Grey is set to spank into cinemas on 13 February next year, promising a lot of awkward movie dates when Valentine's Day rolls around.

Gary Whitta departs first standalone Star Wars film

There has been a disturbance in the Force recently, with news that writer Gary Whitta (After Earth) has departed the first of the new Star Wars standalone movies.

Whitta had been working on crafting the film with Gareth Edwards (Godzilla), with the pair figuring out the initial new entry in the franchise after J.J. Abrams' (Star Trek Into Darkness) Star Wars: The Force Awakens. They've been collaborating since May last year and Whitta had written a first draft that will now likely be re-scripted by someone else under Edwards' supervision. Nothing has been revealed about the project's subject matter, though speculation has turned to adventures featuring single characters such as bounty hunter Boba Fett from around the Star Wars universe.

It would appear to be an uncontroversial split between Whitta and the film, with both sides putting out positive press releases. "Gary has been a wonderful, inspired contributor and I enjoyed working with him tremendously," said Edwards. "I'm so grateful for all of his contributions."

For his own part, Whitta commented, "The year I spent working with Lucasfilm on this Star Wars film has been by far the most rewarding period of my entire career. As a lifelong fan I'm deeply grateful to have had the rare opportunity to contribute to a new chapter in its ongoing cinematic legacy. The film is going to be amazing." He'll be moving on to other things, including an adaptation of Mark Millar's Starlight comic-book series.

The first Star Wars stand alone outing is scheduled to arrive on 16 December 2016.

David Oyelowo and Lupita Nyong'o set for Queen Of Katwe

They are already attached to share the screen in indie drama Americanah, but it looks like David Oyelowo (Jack Reacher) and Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years A Slave) will be teaming up sooner than that, with news arriving via Deadline that they are both in talks for Mira Nair's (Monsoon Wedding) new film Queen Of Katwe.

Walt Disney Pictures has Nair set to re-team with Reluctant Fundamentalist (2012) writer William Wheeler for the film, which will take as its source Tim Crothers' 2011 ESPN magazine article The Queen Of Katwe: A Story Of Life, Chess, And One Extraordinary Girl's Dream Of Becoming A Grandmaster. The story follows Phiona Mutesi, a young woman from the slums of Uganda, who was spotted by coach Robert Katende and reached the World Chess Olympiad with his support.

If they both sign on, Oyelowo will be playing Katende, while Nyong'o would be Harriet Mutesi, Phiona's mother. The Mouse House is hoping to have this one shooting in the spring.

Oyelowo is currently receiving plenty of awards attention for his role as Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma (arriving here on 6 February), and will next be seen in J.C. Chandor's (All Is Lost) A Most Violent Year, out now. Nyong'o will be voicing Rakcha in Jon Favreau's (Cowboys & Aliens) The Jungle Book and has a role in J.J. Abrams (Star Trek Into Darkness) Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which is set for release on December 18.

First trailer and stills for Run All Night arrives online

Warner Bros have recently released their first trailer and set of stills for Jaume Collet-Serra's (Non-Stop) Run All Night.

With Taken 3 currently out in cinemas, Warner Bros have seized the opportunity to release their first trailer for Liam Neeson's latest actioner. His third film with director Jaume Collet-Serra (following Unknown and Non-Stop), this one co-stars Ed Harris (Gone Baby Gone), Joel Kinnaman (RoboCop), Vincent D'Onofrio (Charlie Countryman), Nick Nolte (Warrior) and Common (Now You See Me).

The set-up for this one sees Neeson as a legendary retired hitman, but on the way to becoming washed up and starting to be haunted by his prolific history of violence. He's suddenly energised when his son (Kinnaman) becomes a target, however, and decides to go up against his own entire crime syndicate to save him. Harris plays mob boss Shawn Maguire, the end of the road Neeson must run over the course of his long and violent evening.

Screenwriter Brad Ingelsby also penned Scott Cooper's Out Of The Furnace (2013), and is currently attached to the English language The Raid (2011) remake, amongst other projects.

Run All Night is out in the UK on 1 May.

Michael Keaton set for Kong: Skull Island

It's always interesting to see where actors head next after appearing in something that garners awards interest and, in some cases, actual gongs. Michael Keaton has certainly been picking up plenty of attention for his role in Alejandro González Iñárritu's (Babel) Birdman, and he seems ready to follow up that fascinating, complicated comedy drama with a big action adventure. News arrives via The Hollywood Reporter that he in in talks to set sail for Jordan Vogt-Roberts's (The Kings Of Summer) Kong: Skull Island.

Tom Hiddleston (Thor: The Dark World) is the man leading the charge cast wise, playing an adventurer who journeys to the titular locale in search of unexplored territory, mysterious creatures and, most likely, fame and fortune. J.K. Simmons (Juno) is already along for the ride and Keaton would presumably either join the adventure or play one of Hiddleston's financial backers.

The Kings Of Summer (2013) director Jordan Vogt-Roberts is the man calling the shots for this one, working from a script by John Gatins (Flight), which is based in turn on initial drafts by Max Borenstein (Godzilla). We're fascinated to see how this one turns out. Kong: Skull Island doesn't seem to offer much scope for sophistication, and while no-one should be criticised for a big film payday, the talent involved already speaks to a potentially decent creature feature. Keaton, though, has had some unfortunate choices in potential blockbuster material recently, cropping up in the dire Need For Speed (2014) and the underwhelming RoboCop (2014). He's most recently worked on the true life church scandal film Spotlight and will lend his voice to Despicable Me spin-off Minions, which arrives here on 26 June.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Matthias Schoenaerts set for Tom Hooper's The Danish Girl

Les Misérables (2012) director Tom Hooper has already been building quite the cast for his latest project, true life tale The Danish Girl. Now news arrives via Deadline that has just added Matthias Schoenaerts (Rust And Bone) to the already impressive line-up.

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.

As for Schoenaerts, nothing has been announced about his role yet, according to Deadline. Schoenaerts has several films coming up on his schedule, including Thomas Vinterberg's (The Hunt) Far From The Madding Crowd (out here on 1 May), Close Protection, A Bigger Splash, and Galveston, which is currently still in development.

James Cameron delays first Avatar sequel

James Cameron may believe that his plans for three sequels to Avatar (2009) will be "bitchin'" and that we will, to use his even more colourful turn of phrase, "shit yourself with your mouth wide open." But you may want to hold off ordering new underwear for another year, as news comes via Variety that the director is pushing back the release of the first film until Christmas 2017, a year later than planned.

That will naturally have a knock-on effect for the third and fourth films too, with Cameron explaining that the sheer volume of work that goes into crafting linked movies is the reason why he has applied brakes. "There's a layer of complexity in getting the story to work as a saga across three films that you don't get when you're making a standalone film," he said at an event in Wellington, New Zealand. "We're writing three simultaneously. And we've done that so that everything tracks throughout the three films. We're not just going to do one and then make up another one and another one after that," he elaborated. "And parallel with that, we're doing all the design. So we've designed all the creatures and the environments."

So while it does mean Avatar fans and 20th Century Fox, in particular, will have to wait a little longer for that return to the world of Jake (Sam Worthington), Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) and the rest, it appears to still be on track. Cameron has been overseeing development of the three movies, with a writing team including Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver (Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes), Josh Friedman (War Of The Worlds) and Shane Salerno (Savages) cranking out the drafts. The three movies will be shot simultaneously and released in late 2017, 2018 and 2019. Or at least, that's the plan as of now...

Jon Favreau's Jungle Book pushed back six months

Joining Universal Pictures and 20th Century Fox in their recent games of release date musical chairs, Walt Disney Pictures have recently announced some shifting weekends of their own. Jon Favreau's (Cowboys & Aliens) Jungle Book has been pushed back to 2016, while Craig Gillespie's (Lars And The Real Girl) The Finest Hours will arrive sooner than we thought. The new Pete's Dragon has nabbed its opening day too. And with the sudden flurry of activity around DreamWorks' Ghost In The Shell remake, there's now also confirmation of exactly when we can expect to see Scarlett Johansson (Lucy) don her figure hugging cyber suit.

Favreau's live action and CGI blended take on Rudyard Kipling's beloved tale will now grace cinema screens on 15 April 2016, six months later than originally planned. There's been no official reason given for this, but it's clearly a project where a long post-production was always going to be a necessity. It seems most likely that this a move to get the digitally animated animals working as seamless as possible. The new release date will see it open opposite the Goosebumps movie and Malcolm D. Lee's The Best Man Wedding, sequel to his The Best Man Holiday (2013).

The new gap in Disney's schedule has been filled by the Chris Pine (Star Trek) starrer The Finest Hours. Gillespie's coastguard drama will now be with us on 9 October this year, pitted against Halle Berry (Cloud Atlas) thriller Kidnap and the Warner Bros remake of National Lampoon's Vacation (1983).

Pete's Dragon, directed by David Lowery (Ain't Them Bodies Saints), will fly in on 12 August 2016, hoping to fend off strong competition from Robert De Niro's (Silver Linings Playbook) Dirty Grandpa, Seth Rogen's (This Is The End) Sausage Party and Nic Mathieu's Spectral. As the only family film in a weekend of 'adult' comedies and a science fiction thrillers, that may prove to be a smart decision.

And Rupert Sanders' (Snow White And The Huntsman) Johansson starring Ghost In The Shell is now officially pencilled in for 14 April 2017.

George Lucas originally planned to direct Star Wars: Episode VII

There was a fare amount of chatter last year, even as J.J. Abrams (Star Trek Into Darkness) was hard at work on what we now know is called Star Wars: The Force Awakens, that George Lucas had been planning new entries to his space saga. He confirmed the reports himself in a recent interview with USA Today to discuss his fantasy animation Strange Magic, talking up the plans he ultimately abandoned when Walt Disney Pictures approached him about buying Lucasfilm.

According to USA Today, Lucas had already started to develop three new Star Wars films – hardly a surprise, since there has often been talk of plot beats mapped out beyond the first two trilogies – with the idea that he would direct Episode VII and then sell Lucasfilm with a shiny new trilogy ready to go. But then, when Disney started to show interest in the company, he realised the time was right to eject. "It's better for me to get out at the beginning of a new thing and I can just remove myself," he says. "The time is more important to me than the money."

However, Lucas also revealed to CinemaBlend that Star Wars: The Force Awakens is set to depart from his ideas entirely.

"The ones that I sold to Disney, they came up to the decision that they didn't really want to do those," Lucas said. "So they made up their own. So it's not the ones that I originally wrote."

While Abrams and Lucasfilm have clearly headed off in their own direction, this development appears to suit Lucas perfectly, as he can now become an audience member for the first time. "The only thing I really regret about Star Wars is the fact I never got to see it – I never got to be blown out of my seat when the ship came over the screen," Lucas says. "The next one, I'll be able to enjoy it like anybody else." No pressure then.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens arrives here on 18 December.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

"Everyone creates the thing they dread..."

Marvel have recently released their latest trailer for Joss Whedon's Avengers (2012) sequel, Avengers: Age Of Ultron.

Avengers: Age Of Ultron finds Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) trying his hand at creating an international peacekeeping force of droids controlled by the self-aware artificial intelligence Ultron. While his idea is to supplement the Avengers and let his superhero comrades enjoy some much needed time off, he ends up causing them more trouble than anticipated. And that's before two new super powered types – Wanda 'Scarlet Witch' Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Pietro 'Quicksilver' Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) show up...

The film, which once more boasts Whedon's writing and directorial touch, sees Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Chris Hemsworth, Samuel L. Jackson and Cobie Smulders back together again alongside an array of new and old friends including James Spader (as Ultron, via performance capture), Paul Bettany (Transcendence), Don Cheadle (Iron Man 3), Andy Serkis (Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes) and Thomas Kretschmann (Wanted).

Avengers: Age Of Ultron arrives in the UK on 24 April next year.

Marvel release their first look at Ant-Man nemesis Yellowjacket

Earlier this week we revealed new pictures from Peyton Reed's (Bring It On) Ant-Man, including some 'behind the scenes' moments and Evangeline Lilly's (The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug) Hope Van Dyne. Missing from those Entertainment Weekly exclusive images was the film's main villain, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), who has crafted a more violent version of nifty shrinking suit for his own nefarious ends, known as Yellowjacket. That imbalance has now been corrected with Marvel releasing a new piece of artwork showing him in all his glory.

Armed with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, con-man Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) must embrace his inner hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), protect the secret behind his spectacular Ant-Man suit from a new generation of towering threats. Against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Pym and Lang must plan and pull off a heist that will save not just their own world, but the world for everyone. And for Scott, whose criminal record is lengthening, it's a chance for him to be the hero his daughter sees.

Also along for the ride are Evangeline Lilly (The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug), Bobby Cannavale (Blue Jasmine), Michael Peña (End Of Watch), Abby Ryder Fortson (Togetherness), Judy Greer (The Descendants), David Dastmalchian (Prisoners), Wood Harris (Remember The Titans), Gregg Turkington (The Comedy), T.I. (American Gangster), and John Slattery (Mad Men), who returns as Howard Stark in a series of flashbacks.

Ant-Man will be out here on 17 July.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

First trailer for Demonic arrives online

Dimension Films have recently released their first trailer for Will Canon's (Brotherhood) Demonic.

Here we have yet another abject lesson in why cinematic séances are a bad idea for everyone involved. Following Ouija (2014), here comes yet another horror thriller to remind the world that nothing good ever happens when stupid people decide to dabble in dark forces.

This time around, those trying to figure out what happened when an ill judged ceremony turns deadly, include a psychologist (Maria Bello) and a detective (Frank Grillo). Naturally, they start to dig into the case and the foreboding old house where the event took place, trying to piece together what really happened. Was this an incursion from the great beyond? Or is one of the participants a killer trying to cover their tracks? This latest trailer certainly leaves little room for doubt on that front...

With Cody Horn (End Of Watch), Dustin Milligan (Repeaters), Megan Park (What If), Scott Mechlowicz (Peaceful Warrior) and Aaron Yoo (21) also among the cast, Demonic is directed by Will Canon, but the trailer goes to great lengths to point out the presence of James Wan (The Conjuring) as writer and producer, hoping that his successful horror movie credentials will encourage audiences to part with their hard earned cash.

Demonic will spook the US some time this year, but has no official release date as yet on either side of the pond.

Reese Witherspoon set for Downsizing

Currently riding high on the double punch success of Jean-Marc Vallée's (Dallas Buyers Club) Wild (2014) and David Fincher's (The Social Network) Gone Girl (2014) – the latter of which she produced – Reese Witherspoon is considering her options for the future. News now arrives via Deadline that she recently committed to a reunion with her Election (1999) director Alexander Payne for his latest project, Downsizing.

The long gestating film sounds like a very different type of challenge for the director, so it makes sense that he would go with someone he knows how to work with already. Matt Damon (Elysium) is already set to star in the story of a man low on money who decides that life would be a lot cheaper and easier if he underwent a procedure to shrink himself. Travelling through life as a tiny person, he meets a woman (Witherspoon) and a pint-sized foreigner.

This won't actually be Witherspoon's first run at this role – she was originally attached to co-star back in 2009 along with fellow Payne alum Paul Giamatti (Sideways), before scheduling, financing issues and Payne's concentration on other projects saw it put back on the shelf. Now though, despite Payne having to wait while his cast work on other projects, Downsizing looks like it might finally fill our screens. Witherspoon, meanwhile, will be back in cinemas with Paul Thomas Anderson's (There Will Be Blood) Inherent Vice and has a variety of films in development.

Wes Bentley set for Pete's Dragon

Of all the films Walt Disney Pictures could unearth from their classic archives for a fresh coat of remake paint, we were surprised to see Pete's Dragon among them. Still, it's moving forward with Ain't Them Bodies Saints (2013) director David Lowery overseeing the project and currently busy building an eclectic casting. News arrives via The Wrap that Wes Bentley (Interstellar) is the latest addition to the team.

Oakes Fegley (This Is Where I Leave You) will star as the titular Pete, an orphan who arrives in a small town with his magic dragon, attempting to escape his abusive adoptive parents. Oona Laurence, meanwhile, plays a newly created character, Natalie, who also befriends our hero. The film – which will shoot in New Zealand – is set against the backdrop of illegal logging. Elliott the dragon, who raises Pete after his parents are killed in a car crash, lives in a threatened forest.

Bentley, whose role has yet to be specified, joins a cast that already also includes Robert Redford (All Is Lost) and Bryce Dallas Howard (The Help), in a film that will stray from the musical nature of the 1977 original. Lowery is on board to direct after initially being hired to write the film along with regular collaborator Toby Halbrooks (Robots Are Blue).

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

"Remember this. I am prepared to fight. For eternity."

The Bible shows us God can talk through killing or through allowing his son to be killed. It's the weird, confusing and sometimes wonderful contrast between the Old and New Testaments. The achievement of Ridley Scott's (Prometheus) take on the most famous story of exile, imprisonment and escape is not that it solves that apparent contradiction, but that it lives in it. This is a film that arguably poses more questions than it answers. Where does faith become fanaticism? When does freedom fighting become terrorism? Why does God work through people, or why do people pretend to be Gods?

Exodus: Gods And Kings opens in the city of Memphis on the western bank of the River Nile. It is 1,300 BCE, and Moses (Christian Bale) and Ramses (Joel Edgerton), though not related by blood, have been raised as brothers. The former a general in the Egyptian military, the latter the son of the Pharaoh Seti (John Turturro), but their brotherly bond is torn apart on the discovery that Moses is of Hebrew descent.

Exiled to the desert, Moses marries and has a son but is jolted from his humble existence as a shepherd when God speaks to him through a burning bush. Told of his fate to rescue his people from Egyptian rule and lead them to Canaan, Moses employs his military skills to train up the Hebrew slaves. A war of attrition begins, and with God escalating the carnage by unleashing a series of deadly plagues on Egypt, Moses attempts to lead 600,000 Israelites to freedom.

The Cecil B. De Mille film, The Ten Commandments, is one of the main reasons that people talk about epics being on "a Biblical scale", and Scott's take is equally huge in it's vision. Here Scott has opted for old school scale, constructing massive sets for his Egyptian story, which pumps up the story to match the ambition of the designs. But it's arguably his computer generated take on the ten plagues that really impress, eclipsing those of the 1956 classic with aplomb and invention. The real surprise here, though, is just how savage and uncompromising the action is. This is blood and thunder spectacle pumped with monstrous egos, Old Testament morality and cold blooded violence.

The script by Adam Cooper and Bill Collage (Tower Heist), Jeffrey Caine (The Constant Gardener) and Steven Zaillian (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) brightly attempts to rationalise the horrors that befall the Egyptian people, before leading us along with Moses to realise the answer may be in how God simply identifies himself – "I Am".

If you ignore the scale, splendour and slaughter – for a moment – then the biblical epic this bears most comparison to is perhaps Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation Of Christ (1988). Like Scorsese's heartfelt, fascinating film – too readily dismissed by some Christians as heretical – Exodus: Gods And Kings has a lead who is unsure whether he is mad, bad or the messiah. Christian Bale (The Dark Knight Rises), here, is perfect casting, at war with himself as much as he is with Egypt. You feel that tension throughout his performance and throughout the film. This is a Biblical epic as ambivalent towards the very existence of God, as it is of his benevolence. But it is also a film that wants, in its heart, to believe.

As spectacular and surprising as you would expect from Scott. Its spiritual uncertainty – and lack of triumphalism – perhaps strips the film of a truly satisfying, cathartic conclusion, but also makes for a truly modern and thoughtful biblical blockbuster.

"I Am Consciousness. I Am Alive. I Am Chappie."

Sony Pictures Entertainment have recently released their latest trailer for Neill Blomkamp's (District 9) Chappie.

Chappie sees Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) create a thinking, feeling robot off the back of his work on mindless robot drones for the police. But not everyone is delighted by the seemingly sweet machine. Hugh Jackman's (The Wolverine) Vincent and Sigourney Weaver (Avatar) as his boss are worried that this could mean the end of humanity. So Vincent sets out to destroy our hero and Chappie will have to rely on both his friends and his newly developed wits to survive.

The film finds Blomkamp once more exploring ideas of technology, humanity and how we treat those not like us, and also features the likes of Blomkamp regular Sharlto Copley (playing the title character via performance capture), South African rapper Ninja, Yolandi Visser and Jose Pablo Cantillo (Elysium).

Chappie will be out in the UK on March 6.

New Ant-Man images arrive online

Following the launch of the films first trailer, Marvel have recently released their latest set of images for Peyton Reed's (Bring It On) Ant-Man via Entertainment Weekly.

Elsewhere in Entertainment Weekly's feature it remains clear that Edgar Wright (The World's End) continues to cast a long shadow over the entire Ant-Man project. Addressing the issue of Wright's departure, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige reiterates that it was disappointing but amicable.

"It is true that there were disagreements about the direction the script should take," he explains. "but everything was above board. Everything was done with everybody else's knowledge. There was a sense of 'We're going in this direction, you're staying in this direction... maybe it's best that we end as friends.'"

Paul Rudd (Wanderlust), meanwhile, says he was "devastated" to see Wright go, but that his imprint remains to an extent. "The bones of it is really Edgar and Joe [Cornish]," he says. "It's been an emotional roller coaster, but I'm very excited now." Wright and Cornish have ended up with a story credit, with Rudd and Adam McKay (Anchorman) officially labelled the screenwriters.

Armed with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, con-man Scott Lang (Rudd) must embrace his inner hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), protect the secret behind his spectacular Ant-Man suit from a new generation of towering threats. Against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Pym and Lang must plan and pull off a heist that will save not just their own world, but the world for everyone. And for Scott, whose criminal record is lengthening, it's a chance for him to be the hero his daughter sees.

They will have to deal with Corey Stoll's (The Bourne Legacy) Darren Cross, who has his own plans for the technology with his more nefarious alter ego Yellowjacket. Also along for the ride are Evangeline Lilly (The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug), Bobby Cannavale (Blue Jasmine), Michael Peña (End Of Watch), Abby Ryder Fortson (Togetherness), Judy Greer (The Descendants), David Dastmalchian (Prisoners), Wood Harris (Remember The Titans), Gregg Turkington (The Comedy), T.I. (American Gangster), and John Slattery (Mad Men), who returns as Howard Stark in a series of flashbacks.

Ant-Man will be out here on 17 July.

Monday, 26 January 2015

New release date set for Bourne 5

Following the announcement of 20th Century Fox's upcoming release schedule, Universal Pictures have now jumped in on the action. The studio has announced that the developing fifth Bourne movie, which reunites Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass with the franchise, will be shifting back a fortnight into the slot recently vacated by Matt Reeves' Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (2014) sequel. The amnesiac super spy will now return to cinema screens on 29 July 2016.

The move gives the film a bit of breathing room in that particularly crowded summer, meaning it will longer open a mere week after Star Trek 3 as originally planned. As the schedule stands, it currently only shares a weekend with Mike And Dave Need Wedding Dates.

In case you missed it, the new, as yet untitled Bourne outing was announced back in November, and means any planned follow-up to the Jeremy Renner starring Bourne Legacy (2012) will be shelved for the time being.

Damon had always said he wouldn't do another one unless Greengrass was involved, and both had maintained they didn't have much interest in returning to a story they felt they had completed unless the right script could be found. It now transpires that they'll be writing that screenplay themselves, alongside Greengrass's usual film editor Christopher Rouse (Captain Phillips). No story details have emerged as yet, and Tony Gilroy, writer of all the Bournes outings to date and director of Bourne Legacy, is not involved this time.

The series has always played fast and loose with its source novels, but there are, at this point, eight unfilmed 'titles' in the series following The Bourne Legacy (written by Eric Van Lustbader, who took over the novels from Robert Ludlum). That said, Damon and Greengrass may well go their own way for the fifth film.

"If we're gonna be asking big questions, we have to be ready for the answers."

Relativity Studios have recently released their first trailer and one sheet for David Gelb's debut feature The Lazarus Effect.

Olivia Wilde (Rush) stars with Mark Duplass (Zero Dark Thirty), Donald Glover (Community) and Evan Peters (X-Men: Days Of Future Past) as one of a group of scientists investigating the reanimation of dead tissue. During one of their experiments an electrical accident causes her to die, leading her colleagues to continue their work on Wilde herself. But when she comes back she's not quite the same as when she left.

There are certainly elements of Flatliners (1990) and The Eye (2008) in the set-up, but hopefully the full movie will effectively tread its own path. With Gelb directing from a screenplay by Luke Dawson (Shutter) and Jeremy Slater (the forthcoming Fantastic Four), The Lazarus Effect has risen from Jason Blum's prolific Blumhouse company. It's out in the US on 27 February, but has yet to receive a set release date here in the UK.

Duncan Jones discusses Warcraft plot

While we still have more than a year to go before Duncan Jones (Source Code) unleashes his Warcraft film on the world, he recently let slip some details about the characters for the game adaptation, and has now talked to Chinese news site Mtime (with a helpful translation via Man Made Movies) about his aims for the film's tone and story.

According to the director, he was looking to explore the initial meetings between orcs and humans that led to the big conflict. "From the moment I first talked to Blizzard, the plan was to start our film with the first time Orcs met Humans," he says. "First contact! I think that for a world with so much newness to explain, this was a wise choice, especially when so many people in our audience may not know anything about Warcraft... It was important that some of our characters would be seeing the world fresh as well, and that the audience could see the situation through their eyes. A Warcraft film should not be about a good race of humans battling an evil race of orcs. Warcraft should be about heroes on both sides trying to avoid a conflict, when villains leave them no choice."

And for inspiration, he looked to a slightly successful fantasy trilogy for inspiration: "Peter Jackson did a magnificent job of 'setting the table' for Tolkien's universe with his first Lord Of The Rings film. I know that my job in this first film is to establish certain characters, places and culture while telling a story that a broad audience can be excited by. Hopefully, if I have done my job right, people will want to know and see more. There is certainly plenty more to tell. I would love to be part of that process of expanding on the lore that makes up Warcraft, but it will all depend on what you, the audience, think of our first film."

Jones is clearly hopeful, and still has plenty of time to wrangle what must be a mammoth special effects job and apply the finishing touches. With luck, we should see a trailer sometime soon.

Elle Fanning set for The Neon Demon

Now that The Neon Demon has well and truly supplanted I Walk With The Dead as Nicolas Winding Refn's next project, the Drive (2011) director has been busy figuring out who will fill the cast. News arrives via The Wrap that he has already found his lead, with Elle Fanning (Super 8) set to star.

Not much has been revealed about the plot of the film, although we do know it is set in Los Angeles and will track Fanning's character's attempts to conquer the world of modelling, only to confront a terrifying force of beauty and death. "Elle Fanning is a super cool wonder woman and I look forward to going on a terrifying trip with her into The Neon Demon," Refn said in a statement picked up by The Wrap. Could he have found someone to replace Ryan Gosling in his filmmaking affections?

"One morning I woke and realised I was both surrounded and dominated by women," Refn has said about the project. "Strangely, a sudden urge was planted in me to make a horror film about vicious beauty." Refn plans to start the cameras whirring in March. Fanning has certainly been grabbing plenty of work recently, most recently on Jay Roach's (Meet The Fockers) Trumbo alongside Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) and independent feature Three Generations. She has also lined up a role in Ben Affleck's (Argo) next directorial outing, Live By Night, and has several other possible films on the horizon.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Gugu Mbatha-Raw set for Free State Of Jones

She enjoyed a successful 2014 between period drama Belle and pop culture romance Beyond The Lights, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw's 2015 is shaping up fairly well too. News arrives via The Wrap that she has now landed a role in Free State Of Jones opposite the Academy Award® winning Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club).

Gary Ross (The Hunger Games) has been developing the American Civil War drama for several years now, planning to bring to the screen the story of Newton Knight. A Mississippi man who had been a loyal Confederate recruit, he defected from the army and took a group of like minded troops with him to create the Free State of Jones. Knight later married a slave (Mbatha-Raw's Rachel), creating one of the first ever publicised mixed race unions in the South, fought against the Confederates from within his new state and led a daring raid to free children who were still enslaved following the end of the conflict.

Now that he's locked down the crucial two lead roles, Ross will finally start shooting this year. Mbatha-Raw is part of the cast for Jupiter Ascending (due here on 6 February) and has most recently worked on The Whole Truth with Keanu Reeves (47 Ronin). She's currently shooting the untitled Will Smith (I Am Legend) American football concussion drama.

New trailer and one sheet for Good Kill arrives online

Voltage Pictures have recently released their first trailer and one sheet for Andrew Niccol's (In Time) Good Kill.

It certainly looks like 2015 will be the year of the drone drama, which we suppose is hardly a surprise given their topicality. Gavin Hood's (Ender's Game) Eye In The Sky is already in production, but Good Kill will beat it into cinemas, with a confirmed release date for this April.

Ethan Hawke (Training Day) stars as Tommy Egan, a US Air Force pilot turned drone jockey who spends his days sending flaming doom upon targets halfway around the world from an airbase in Las Vegas. But even though he initially thought he was continuing to fight the good fight, he becomes increasingly numb from the almost video game aspect of unmanned aerial bomb runs and begins to question his mission. And, as civilian deaths start to stack up, he turns to drink to soothe his pain, bringing him into conflict with his wife (January Jones) and his commanding officer (Bruce Greenwood). Will he reach a breaking point on a critical mission?

Good Kill is directed by Andrew Niccol, who could do with a solid success after a double punch of disappointment over In Time (2011) and The Host (2013). Getting back to the sort of ethical territory he covered in his other Ethan Hawke starer Gattaca (1997) and scripted in The Truman Show (1998) might help, though the reviews from the Venice Film Festival were mixed.

Good Kill will fly into UK cinemas on 10 April.

New character one sheets for Focus arrive online

Warner Bros have recently released their latest trailer and one sheet for Glenn Ficarra and John Requa's (Crazy, Stupid, Love.) Focus, a romantic crime caper starring starring Will Smith (The Pursuit Of Happiness) and Margot Robbie (Wolf Of Wall Street).

Smith stars as Nicky, an experienced master of misdirection who becomes romantically involved with novice con artist Jess (Margot Robbie). Whilst teaching her the tricks of the trade, she gets too close for comfort and he abruptly ends the relationship.

Three years later, his former flame – now an accomplished femme fatale – shows up in Buenos Aires in the middle of the high stakes racing season. And in the midst of Nicky's latest, very dangerous scheme, she throws his plans for a loop... And the con man decidedly off his focus.

Focus comes from writing and directing team Glenn Ficarra and John Requa and also features the likes of Gerald McRaney (House Of Cards), Rodrigo Santoro (300), BD Wong (Jurassic Park) and Robert Taylor (The Matrix).

Focus arrives in cinemas on 27 February.

Channing Tatum's Gambit film set for 2016 release

Finally picking up speed thanks to the recent casting of Channing Tatum (White House Down) in the lead, 20th Century Fox's planned new Gambit spin-off outing has now locked in a release date – for the States at least – pencilling in an 7 October 2016 slot.

And that's despite the film still lacking a confirmed director – presumably we can expect that announcement any day now. Few details have emerged about the film thus far, though Tatum has described how he sees the character: "Gambit was always like the woman loving, cigarette smoking, drinking guy. He was the punk rock of all the superheroes. He's a thief. He kind of rode the line." There is still talk he may actually first be seen in X-Men: Apocalypse, though it could just be a brief cameo.

It's just one of a batch of announcements from 20th Century Fox about their upcoming film slate, which also includes word that the third Planet Of The Apes film (to be directed by Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes' Matt Reeves) has switched places with the company's second new Fantastic Four film. Caesar and the rest of his hairy cohorts will now return to Stateside screens on 14 July 2017, with Reed Richards and the rest set to hit once more on 2 June of that year. Assuming, of course, that their initial outing works at the box office this year.

The Assassin's Creed adaptation, which still boasts Michael Fassbender (Prometheus) in the lead, is now targeting 21 December 2016, with Hugh Jackman's (The Wolverine) P.T. Barnum film The Greatest Showman On Earth following on Christmas Day. Finally, there's raunchy comedy Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates for 29 July 2016 and romantic drama The Mountain Between Us on 10 February 2017. Naturally, we offer the caveat that all of these films could be released on other dates in the UK. As always, watch this space.

Perla Haney-Jardine set to play Steve Jobs' daughter

News arrives via The Hollywood Reporter that Perla Haney-Jardine (Dark Water) has won the role of Steve Jobs' daughter, Lisa, in Danny Boyle's (127 Hours) film about former Apple boss.

Michael Fassbender (Prometheus) is set as the man himself for an Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) scripted film that takes a look at three big moments from Jobs' career – product launches for the likes of the iPod and more. But there is also an emotional backing to the film, which draws from Walter Isaacson's biography and extensive interviews with people from Jobs' life, including Lisa, who has a chequered history with her father. He initially denied his parental connection before admitting it when she was a teenager. While she didn't talk to Isaacson, she did sit down with Sorkin, who has since declared her "the heroine of the film."

Haney-Jardine joins a cast that is in various stages of hiring the likes of Seth Rogen (This Is The End), Michael Stuhlbarg (A Serious Man), Kate Winslet (Revolutionary Road) and Jeff Daniels (Looper). She's been seen in the likes of Kill Bill Vol. 2 (2004), Untraceable (2008), and as the daughter of Sandman (Thomas Haden Church) in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 3 (2007).

Scarlett Johansson set for Ghost In The Shell

For a while, it looked as though Margot Robbie (The Wolf Of Wall Street) would be slipping into the figure hugging techno suit for DreamWorks Studios' new, live action take on Masamune Shirow's Ghost In The Shell stories. But with the Australian actress now committed to Warner Bros/DC Entertainment's Suicide Squad, the company has had to turn to someone else. News now arrives via Variety that Scarlett Johansson (Lucy) is now set to take over.

Black Widow herself is no stranger to action, scoring a box office hit last year with Luc Besson's (Léon) Lucy, and had previously been courted by DreamWorks for the lead role of a character based on Motoko Kusanagi, a cyborg law enforcer and one of the best on Japan's National Public Safety Commission and its technology focused team of crime stoppers.

Rupert Sanders (Snow White And The Huntsman) is still attached to direct the film, with William Wheeler (The Hoax) having worked on the most recent draft of the script. Johansson's casting will do little to allay the outcry at the lack of an Asian actress being cast in the film, but given Robbie's initial offer and now Johansson's, it seems clear the direction that DreamWorks wants to take, even if the film might have to weather comparisons to the various anime versions of the tale.

Johansson will be back on our screens as Natasha Romanoff for Avengers: Age Of Ultron, due 24 April. She has also been filming the Coen brothers' (Inside Llewyn Davis) latest, Hollywood golden age comedy drama Hail, Caesar!, which is scheduled for UK cinemas on 26 February 2016.

Benedict Cumberbatch discusses Doctor Strange

His casting as Marvel's Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Strange, provoked an almost equal measure of delight and dissatisfaction when it was announced last month, but Benedict Cumberbatch certainly appears to be more than ready for the challenge of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Present at the Palm Springs Festival to help collect the ensemble award with some of his Imitation Game (2014) cast members, he was quizzed by The Wall Street Journal about whether he thinks taking on another big genre franchise and, more specifically, a very different kind of Marvel movie, is a risky move. "I don't think it's a risk because of Marvel," he says. "Marvel is a stable of bringing out ordinary comic characters and turning them into screen-like gods. It's very different; it's an Astral Plane. There's a huge new element to this Marvel universe that's going to be employed in building this story and this character.

"But you know, I'm really excited about it, about working with Scott [Derrickson] whose imagination is endless, and all the boys and girls at Marvel who know what they're doing."

So what can he tell us about the character or the movie we didn't get from the press release? Apparently nothing, which seems par for the course these days. "You'll have to wait and see! I'm not going to be eked out on any spoilers or reveals now. It's quite a way off but I'm very excited about that spiritual dimension, obviously. It's something that's been a huge part of my life."

With Sherlock's new Christmas special and series set to start shooting and a stage run in Hamlet this summer, he'll have other things to occupy him too. He is, though, diving into the research any actor needs for a Marvel role – reading the comics. Which is something he's a little unused to... "Growing up, I didn't read many comics at all. Asterix, a bit, I think that was it. There weren't many comics in my household. We didn't have Marvel so much. But you can bet your bottom dollar I'm reading them now, avidly."

Derrickson will be directing Doctor Strange this year ready for an 28 October 2016 release in the UK ahead of its 4 November launch in the US.

"Big game hunting never got any bigger!"

EuropaCorp have recently released their first trailer and one sheet for Jalmari Helander's (Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale) Big Game.

Back in 2010, Finnish director Jalmari Helander brought the world a creepy Christmas present in the form of feral Santa Claus horror comedy, Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale. For his next trick, Helander is looking to throw a light hearted nod and a wink towards classic 1980s action movies with Big Game.

With Samuel L. Jackson (Django Unchained), Jim Broadbent (Cloud Atlas), Ray Stevenson (Divergent), Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives), Ted Levine (Shutter Island), Victor Garber (Argo) and Rare Exports' Onni Tommila among the cast, the film appears to be a blend of Escape From New York (1981) and The Most Dangerous Game (1932).

Jackson stars as the President of the United States, who is stranded in the Finnish mountains when terrorists blast Air Force One from the sky and is parachuted to relative safety in an escape capsule. Struggling to survive in the harsh terrain he meets 13-year-old Oskari (Tommila), who is out there as part of a coming of age ritual. They'll have to team up when the terrorists targeting the President decide to hunt him down...

Helander's latest received some mixed reviews from the Toronto Film Festival and the trailer certainly seems to give off a hint of cheese, but it could be fun.

Big Game should be landing on our screens on 8 May.

First stills from Jane Got A Gun arrive online

It has been infamous for its troubled development and the chaotic start to its shoot, but Natalie Portman (Black Swan) and the Jane Got A Gun team will be hoping that 2015 is the year that the Western thriller puts its troubles behind it and stands on its own merits. The first stills from the film have recently arrived online. 

Jane Got A Gun finds Natalie Portman as the titular homesteader, shocked to see her estranged outlaw hubby (Noah Emmerich) stagger home full of bullets after being double-crossed by his gang.

With the criminals (led by Ewan McGregor) on their way to finish the job, Jane decides to reach out to a sharp shooting old flame (Joel Edgerton) for assistance in defending her home.

This one has faced seemingly endless problems before and even during the shoot. Michael Fassbender (Prometheus) left the project early on and director Lynne Ramsay (We Need To Talk About Kevin) departed on the first day of filming after clashing with the producers. Gavin O'Connor (Warrior) stepped in to call the shots, but watched as Jude Law (Sherlock Holmes) decided he no longer wanted to play the villain because he had signed on to work with Ramsay, and the producers have traded lawsuits.

Now, after the release date also moved several times, Jane is finally set to get her gun this September in the US, though there is no sign of a UK release date as yet.