Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Britt Robertson set for Jack Goes Home

Thomas Dekker's last film as director was the satirical drama Whore back in 2008. Now news arrives via The Hollywood Reporter that is set to return to the director's chair for indie thriller Jack Goes Home, and has recruited Britt Robertson (Tomorrowland) and Nikki Reed (Twilight) to star.

Written by Dekker, Jack Goes Home is pitched as a horror thriller that finds a magazine editor living and working in Los Angeles who is abruptly summoned back to his hometown in Colorado when his father dies in a car accident. Arriving to help nurse his mother back to health after the accident, he starts to uncover buried family secrets and lies that point to something strange about his very identity.

Dekker has described the movie as "the kind of horror film that cannot be easily relegated to the slasher shelf. It is equal parts a family drama and, most importantly, a musing on grief."

Reed is set to play Jack's best friend, while Robertson will be his pregnant fiancée. As for Jack? We will have to wait and see who ends up with that role.

Robertson is currently on our screens in Nicholas Sparks adaptation The Longest Ride and will next be seen opposite Eddie Murphy (Dreamgirls) in Cook (also known as Henry Joseph Church). Reed has recently worked on indie outings Intramural, A Sunday Horse and Scout, and is currently filming
Alexandra McGuinness' (Lotus Eaters) The Highway Is For Gamblers.

Julia Stiles back for more Bourne

Following last years announcement that Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass are set to return to the Bourne franchise, news now arrives via Deadline that Julia Stiles will also be back in her role as Nicky Parsons.

The nervy Nicky has been a presence in the three Jason Bourne centric films, and becomes the first character beyond Damon's to be confirmed for the latest, as yet untitled movie. Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina) is reportedly being sought to join them, but has yet to make a deal.

As for what the former amnesiac super spy will be up against this time, nothing has been revealed as yet, though we do know that Greengrass is at work on the script with Captain Philips (2013) editor Christopher Rouse and that Frank Marshall will be back in the producer's chair. The new Bourne, whatever it may end up being called, is set for release on 29 July next year.

Stiles, meanwhile, will next be seen in Stephen Herek's (Mr. Holland's Opus) The Great Gilly Hopkins, Go With Me, Border Crossing and Beyond Deceit.

New writer attached to Vin Diesel's Kojak

The idea of Vin Diesel (Fast & Furious 6) inheriting Telly Savalas's iconic role as Lt. Theo Kojak fills us with both the idea of intriguing possibilities and the nagging image of Kojak saying "Who loves ya, baby?" while enjoying a lollipop as a car careers off a rooftop. Still the one man movie machine remains committed to taking it on. Now news arrives via Deadline that seasoned TV writer Philip Gawthorne is working on a new draft of the script.

Universal Pictures – who we imagine would indulge almost any whim of Diesel's given the potent box office for Fast & Furious 7 – is backing the project which at one point the actor (according to his Facebook page) wanted Ang Lee (Life Of Pi) to direct. We're certainly not there by a long stretch, but development is continuing, with playwright and EastEnders/Casualty veteran Gawthorne scoring job after job in Hollywood. He is already at work on the Cube (1997) remake for Lionsgate and has co-written medieval action spec World Breaker with William Eubank (The Signal).

Kojak, which would adapt the cop show that ran between 1973 and 1978, is apparently now intended to be a character based franchise. A previous draft of the script came from James Bond regulars Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, but there is no word on when it might actually head into production.

Tom Hanks in talks for Clint Eastwood's Captain Sully

Earlier this month it was announced that Clint Eastwood (American Sniper) was set to continue his recent string of films about real life people with a biopic of pilot Chesley 'Sully' Sullenberger for Warner Bros. Now news arrives via Deadline that he is already in talks with Tom Hanks (The Da Vinci Code) to take the captain's seat.

Sullenberger was the man hailed as a hero when he safely landed a bird-struck, malfunctioning plane full of passengers on New York's Hudson River back in 2009, becoming a symbol for old school guts and professionalism in the face of adversity.

His moment of fame led to a memoir, called Highest Duty: My Search For What Really Matters, and saw both the book and his life rights bought by producer Frank Marshall (War Horse), with Sully on board as a producer. He seemed happy with the choice of Eastwood to direct, so we can only imagine he will be pleased once the ink is dry in Hanks' contract. For his part, the Captain Phillips (2013) star feels like the right man for the job, even if some thought Eastwood might take it on himself.

Todd Komarnicki (Perfect Stranger) adapted the script, and the film will likely start shooting this year. Hanks has several movies on the way, including Steven Spielberg's (Lincoln) Bridge Of Spies, Ron Howard's (Rush) latest Dan Brown adaptation Inferno, plus A Hologram For The King and Ithaca, neither of which have confirmed release dates here as yet.

No Gambit for X-Men: Apocalypse

While the 1980s setting for Bryan Singer's X-Men: Days Of Future Past (2014) follow-up, X-Men: Apocalypse, made it unlikely that Channing Tatum's (White House Down) Gambit would be introduced in the movie, we still had our fingers crossed that some sort of crossover would be possible. Now Tatum himself, however, has shot the idea down.

Answering questions during a lively, funny, and at times honest (Jupiter Ascending anyone?) Reddit Ask Me Anything session, Tatum tackled the subject of whether his take on the roguish mutant gambler and kinetic card thrower would show up in Singer's latest X adventure. "No ma'am, or sir. I definitely will not," was his quickly typed reply.

But he did at least explain his hopes for the standalone spin-off, now that the film has a director attached. "We finally found someone (Rupert Wyatt) that I really do believe wants to make [the movie]," he wrote. "I just really think because Gambit is not the most popular or the biggest hero, I think there's a really unique opportunity. Marvel's done a lot of great movies that have made a ridiculous amount of money, and it's always good to figure how to change the form." Interesting... So the Gambit film might not just be a standard superhero outing, which certainly seems possible given Wyatt's presence in the director's chair.

Gambit, which has been written by Josh Zetumer (RoboCop), is scheduled to arrive in UK cinemas on 7 October next year.

Monday, 29 June 2015

First quad poster for Knock Knock arrives online

Lionsgate have recently released their first quad poster for Eli Roth's (Hostel) home invasion thriller Knock Knock.

Roth's latest finds Keanu Reeves (47 Ronin) as Evan Webber, a man who would seem to have life all worked out. Married to a wonderful woman, has two great kids, loves his job and even designed his own house. And although he has to stay at home to work while his family heads out for a beach weekend on Father's Day, he is still content.

Until, that is, he answers the door to two young women, played by Lorenza Izzo (Aftershock) and Ana de Armas (Blind Alley). From there, his world turns into a dark and twisted nightmare of mind games and seduction.

We're promised more psychological terror than gore on this one. Written by Roth with his Aftershock (2012) and Green Inferno (2013) collaborators Guillermo Amoedo and Nicolas Lopez, Knock Knock crashes through the cinema door on 26 June.

Matthew Vaughn developing more Kick-Ass films

While Matthew Vaughn is currently focused on crafting a Kingsman: The Secret Service sequel, he clearly hasn't forgotten the Kick-Ass universe. Talking to Yahoo UK recently, he revealed some pretty big plans for the future of Mark Millars action black comedy.

From the sounds of it, Vaughn was in agreement with those who felt that Jeff Wadlow's Kick-Ass 2 (2013) didn't quite recapture the bawdy magic of Vaughn's first Kick-Ass (2010). And it looks as though he is looking to take the series back in time before it can move forward. "We're working on an idea for a prequel of how did Hit Girl and Big Daddy become Hit Girl and Big Daddy," he tells Yahoo UK. "If we make that, hopefully that will be the sorbet for the people that didn't like Kick-Ass 2 and then we can go off and make Kick-Ass 3. I think we've got to do this prequel to regain the love that we had with Kick-Ass."

Whether he ends up in the director's chair for either of those films is a topic for another day, but from the sounds of it, he is definitely planning to be more involved moving forward. Hopefully that will also mean the return of co-writer Jane Goldman. As always, watch this space.

Aaron Paul set for Come And Find Me

He may not have the same high profile as his Avengers wrangling older brother Joss, but Zack Whedon has being putting in solid work on various TV shows such as Deadwood and Southland.
New news arrives via Deadline that he is set to make the leap into films with his directorial debut, Come And Find Me, and has landed Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) to star.

The busy former Breaking Bad actor (who just yesterday set up a new project with Hulu) is aboard to play a man named David, whose girlfriend goes missing. Then to add to that, he realises she has been lying to him and isn't who she was pretending to be, so he redoubles his efforts to find her.

With his leading man in place, Whedon is set to start the cameras rolling in Vancouver next month, working from his own script.

Paul, as mentioned above, will star in a new series for Hulu and will next be seen on the big screen in John Hillcoat's (Lawless) crime thriller Triple Nine (out 18 September) and The 9th Life Of Louis Drax, which has yet to announce a release date. He is also in drone thriller Eye In The Sky and will have a role alongside Dwayne Johnson (Fast & Furious 6) and Kevin Hart (Ride Along) in action comedy Central Intelligence, due out next year.

Vin Diesel announces plans for The Last Witch Hunter sequel

Vin Diesel (Furious 7) has something of a chequered past when it comes to predicting big successful franchises in the making (xXx springs to mind), but that certainly doesn't stop him. Ge has recently taken to his personal Facebook page to announce that that Lionsgate/Summit Entertainment are developing a sequel to his latest action adventure, The Last Witch Hunter.

The first film, of course, has yet to even hit cinemas, neither has it put out anything more than a teaser so far. But according to the man himself, we could be looking at more quests against the forces of darkness with his valiant, immortal warrior, Kaulder. "So the studio apparently is so excited by The Last Witch Hunter – The Axe and Cross franchise... that they are already commencing on the next one," says Diesel. "The first one doesn't hit theaters until October 23, yet they want me to commit and already block out time to film it."

In case you weren't aware, the movie takes place in a world where powerful, magical witches from centuries past have survived into the present day. Hell bent on spreading a deadly plague to wipe out mankind, they have but one real foe – the armies of Witch Hunters who do battle against their wicked ways. One such warrior is Kaulder, who was able to slay the Queen Witch, but not before she cursed him with some of her immortality, forcing him to outlive his family and continue his mission hundreds of years later. Now, with the Queen Witch resurrected, Kaulder faces an epic battle for the very future of us all.

With Breck Eisner (The Crazies) directing, the film also features Rose Leslie (Game Of Thrones), Michael Caine (Harry Brown), Elijah Wood (Maniac) and Julie Engelbrecht (The Red Baron). While American audiences do indeed get the film in October, we here in the UK will have to wait until 6 November. As to the future of the franchise? That will likely depend on the response to the first, but it sounds like the studio wants to move ahead quickly if it is indeed a hit.

Rob Zombie set to adapt Groucho Marx memoir

Rob Zombie (The Devil's Rejects) looks set to expand beyond the horror genre, with word arriving via Deadline that he has acquired the rights to Steve Stoliar's memoir Raised Eyebrows: My Years Inside Groucho's about the later days of Groucho Marx.

Oren Moverman (I'm Not There) is writing the script based on Stoliar's book, which chronicles his time spent as Groucho's personal secretary and archivist in the years before the comedy legend died. His unusual job meant he not only got to know one of his heroes, but also some of those in the man's life including brothers Zeppo and Gummo, plus George Burns, Mae West, Jack Lemmon, Bob Hope and more. And though it might have seemed like a dream assignment, he also had nightmarishly tough encounters with the spiky Erin Fleming, the woman who ran Groucho's life during those twilight times.

Zombie might not be the first person you would expect to tackle this subject, but he has certainly got the fan base credentials. "I have been a huge Groucho Marx fan ever since I was a child and have read countless books on the comic legend, but after reading the book Raised Eyebrows, a totally new perspective on Grouch's life emerged," he tells Deadline. "I immediately saw this project as Grouch's Sunset Boulevard and knew I had to bring it to the big screen. It is a sad, funny and very dark tale of a one of Hollywood's greatest stars final years."

The film won't be his next job, though. He is currently shooting horror thriller 31, about a group of people kidnapped and taken to a killer funhouse called Murder World. And he has several other projects in development, including Broad Street Bullies, about the scrap happy 1970s years of hockey team the Philadelphia Flyers.

New one sheet for Vacation arrives online

Warner Bros have recently released their latest one sheet for John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein directorial debut Vacation, which features Ed Helms' (The Hangover) Rusty Griswold and his family gathered for a selfie.

Vacation finds Ed Helms inheriting the role of Rusty Griswold from National Lampoon's Vacation (1983). Now grown, married and with a family of his own, he is worried that his kids are stagnating. So Rusty decides to pack James (Skyler Gisondo), Kevin (Steele Stebbins) and wife Debbie (Christina Applegate) on a cross-country trip to Walley World, the theme park his own father tried to reach years before.

And what would a Vacation movie be without that very father, as Rusty stops in to visit Clark (Chevy Chase) and Ellen Griswold (Beverly D'Angelo) on their way, along with a drop-in on Rusty's sister Audrey (Leslie Mann) and her hubby, Stone Crandall (Chris Hemsworth).

The tone here seems predominantly winking references to the original with a dash of millennial uncertainty about what it actually was, and a helping of jokes about bodily functions. Not to mention the expected use of Chris Hemsworth's (Thor) natural advantages along with his comic timing, which is no surprise to anyone who has seen either of the Avengers movies.

With Keegan-Michael Key (Let's Be Cops), Nick Kroll (Date Night), Charlie Day (Horrible Bosses), Regina Hall (Scary Movie) and Kaitlin Olson (The Heat) in the cast, the new Vacation arrives on 21 August.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

First clip from Everyone's Going To Die arrives online

Offbeat and beguiling British comedy Everyone's Going To Die, the feature debut of directing collective Jones, is hard to describe and so probably just needs to be watched.

It's the story of Ray (Rob Knighton), who arrives in Folkestone to do a dubious job, dressed like a fancy dress gangster from Reservoir Dogs (1992), and forms an unlikely – but convincing – connection with a young German woman called Melanie (Nora Tschirner).

"The film gets quite a lot of different descriptions from the different festivals it's been in or every reviewer," says Michael Woodward, one half of Jones. "We had 'existentialist crime rom-com'," chips in Max Barron, the other part of the puzzle. "It's about a guy and a girl both having a bit of a difficult time and they meet up and they're able to help each other out. It's kind of a platonic romance."

The directors – who are apparently down to earth and unpretentious, despite what one might expect from interviewing a 'collective' – met in advertising and have made a debut that echoes Breathless (1960), Lost In Translation (2003) and Before Sunset (2004), yet feels distinctly like its own thing.

You can check out the trailer below.

Everyone's Going To Die is out now.

"You don't want an agent... You want an army."

20th Century Fox have just released their latest trailer and one sheet for Aleksander Bach's directorial debut Hitman: Agent 47.

This time around, the focus is even more on the Agent programme that created the numerically named killing machine, genetically engineered to be stronger, faster, smarter and frankly better than us mere mortals.

His latest target is a mega-corporation that plans to unlock the secret of Agent 47's past to create an army of killers whose powers surpass even his own. Teaming up with a young woman who may hold the secret to overcoming their powerful and clandestine enemies, 47 confronts stunning revelations about his own origins and squares off in an epic battle with his deadliest foe.

With Rupert Friend (The Young Victoria) as the mysterious and deadly Agent 47, the film also features Hannah Ware (Shame), Zachary Quinto (Star Trek Into Darkness), Ciarán Hinds (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Thomas Kretschmann (Wanted), Emilio Rivera (Collateral) and Dan Bakkedahl (The Heat), who you see being roundly outsmarted by Agent 47 at the start of the trailer.

Aleksander Bach is behind the camera for this one and the trailer certainly promises a lot of what you might expect from a Hitman outing with Agent 47 showing off his scientifically enhanced set of skills and lots of things going boom.

Hitman: Agent 47 sneaks into US cinemas on 21 August before heading to the UK on 28 August.

Roland Emmerich unveils Independence Day Resurgence

Aside from taking to Twitter for casting announcements, director Roland Emmerich has largely kept his Independence Day (1996) sequel under wraps. That all changed last week when he joined his cast on stage for an exclusive press conference to share some details, including the film's title – Independence Day Resurgence.

Emmerich confirmed what had initially been reported that the sequel is set 20 years after the events of the original, with humanity banding together to fight off a new wave of alien invaders. "We call it in the film the War of '96," said the director. "It's like a post-World generation that's unified, and that's amazing to see a world come together with a common enemy. That's a resurgence."

Jeff Goldblum's David Levinson is back, this time very much in charge of the effort to protect the world. "It's my job to lead the way in making sure everyone is safe on this precious planet," said the actor. "Having faced that last challenge, we're all working in a beautiful way under one goal. Borders are no longer relevant in the same way, and that's a very beautiful idea. We're working together."

Among the new faces this time around is Liam Hemsworth (The Hunger Games), who plays a character named Jake, working an advanced vehicle called the Moon Tug on the lunar surface (see the picture below) "It's kind of unlucky how he ends up in that ship," Hemsworth explained. "Jake lost his parents in the first attack, he grew up in an orphanage, and eventually joined the military and became a fighter pilot, and eventually became one of the best of the best fighter pilots. I think his ego kind of got in the way, he made a bad decision and put someone's life at risk, and he got the great job of driving this moon tug, which is basically a forklift on the moon."

Sela Ward (The Day After Tomorrow) is playing the current American President, and revealed that she was happy to see a woman in the White House. "You know who we have to thank for that? Our fabulous director, forward-thinking, non-sexist, awesome, socially responsible Roland Emmerich," she said, explaining that her commander in chief is an even tougher type than Bill Pullman's Whitmore, who is still around in this film.

Then there is Jessie Usher (When The Game Stands Tall), as Dylan Hiller, son of Will Smith's (who does not appear) fighter pilot Captain Steven Hiller. "He grew up in the world that his dad saved, so you can only imagine what being the son of the world's saviour is kind of like. It's a lot of pressure, he's under that shadow, but it's not a negative thing at all. He took it for what it was and made a good thing out of it."

Maika Monroe (It Follows) also knows something about pressure for her character, former President Whitmore's daughter Patricia, seen as a young girl (and played by Mae Whitman) in the original. "I work with Sela at the White House and have to live up to my dad," she said. "He was huge and I want to make him proud and I'm also a fighter pilot. I'm kind of a badass, I think."

Independence Day Resurgence is due to arrive in cinemas 24 June next year. If you want to watch the entire press conference live stream, you can check it out below.

"This is not going to end well!"

Paramount Pictures have just released their latest trailer and IMAX one sheet for Christopher McQuarrie's (Jack Reacher) Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation.

Reuniting Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), Benji (Simon Pegg), Brandt (Jeremy Renner) and Luther (Ving Rhames) and introducing Rebecca Ferguson's (Hercules) Isla to the line-up, Rogue Nation sees the IMF team go up against the shadowy 'Syndicate', a rogue nation organisation that is trained and equipped much like the IMF, but intends to destroy them... And then there is our own government, with Alec Baldwin's (The Departed) official looking to shut down Ethan Hunt and IMF for good.

From what we have seen of the film so far, things are shaping up nicely, with the usual mix of playful humour, improbable stunts and Cruise reducing loss adjusters to tears by doing his own insane stunts.

With Sean Harris (Prometheus), Simon McBurney (Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy) and more aboard, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation flies into our cinemas on 30 July.

First trailer for Daddy's Home arrives online

Paramount Pictures have just released their first trailer for Sean Anders and John Morris' (Horrible Bosses 2) Daddy's Home.

The film, which casts The Other Guys (2010) co-stars as rivals, finds Will Ferrell as a mild-mannered radio executive who has comfortably settled into life as a step-dad with wife Linda Cardellini and her two kids. But his world is upended when the children's deadbeat father Dusty Mayron (Mark Wahlberg) appears back in their lives, bringing abs, gifts and the sort of powerful bond only a real father can apparently offer, even if he hasn't exactly in the running for Dad Of The Year.

Ferrell, naturally threatened by this interloper, becomes competitive, and a war begins for the hearts of the kids and Cardellini that encompasses tree houses, ponies, motorbikes and even a dunk contest at a local basketball game. Suffice to say, it doesn't seem to be going well for Ferrell. The pair has an easy comic chemistry, and Wahlberg's clearly having fun playing up the bad boy dad.

With Horrible Bosses 2 (2014) duo Sean Anders and John Morris behind the camera and Brian Burns (Blue Bloods) on script duty, Daddy's Home also features Thomas Haden Church (Sideways), Paul Scheer (Piranha 3D), Hannibal Buress (Neighbors) and Alessandra Ambrosio.

Daddy's Home arrives in the UK on 25 December.

"Fairies, banshees, baby stealers..."

Entertainment One have just released their first trailer and quad poster for Colin Hardy's horror debut The Hallow.

Dedicated to monster luminaries like Ray Harryhausen, Dick Smith and Stan Winston, The Hallow follows conservationist Adam Hitchens (Joseph Mawle), his wife Claire (Bojana Novakovic) and their baby to a remote mill in the Irish countryside. There, they unwittingly disturb the local nasties. "Fairies, banshees, baby stealers..." as the scary local warns them.

The trailer builds to a satisfyingly creepy crescendo of nocturnal dread. Everything we have seen so far certainly bodes well for Hardy's The Crow remake.

The Hallow arrives in UK cinemas on 13 November.

First trailer and one sheet for Dark Places arrives online

A24 Films have just released their first trailer and one sheet for Gilles Paquet-Brenner's (Sarah's Key) Dark Places.

The plot sees the seven-year-old Libby Day witness the murder of her family, seemingly the work of a Satanic cult, and testify against her own brother (Corey Stoll) as the murderer. Fast forward 25 years and the grown-up Day (Charlize Theron) has to face some unpleasant facts about the case. Approached by Nicholas Hoult's (Warm Bodies) vigilante sleuths the Kill Club, she is forced to re-evaluate her original version of events.

Coming from Gone Girl writer Gillian Flynn, this is, as you might expect, a weighty, danger filled tale filled with revelations and protagonists who might not know have all the facts to begin with. And with Theron, Hoult, Stoll and more involved, it certainly promises to be another compelling thriller.

With Chloë Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass), Christina Hendricks (Drive) and Drea de Matteo (The Sopranos) in the cast, Dark Places arrives in US cinemas on 7 August but has yet to receive a UK release date.

"So I became the best cop in the world. I became Kung Fury."

There are several movies that are so full of holes and flaws that they descend below awfulness and become good again. The Room (2003) and Birdemic: Shock And Terror (2010) are perfect, unintentional examples. But what happens when independent Swedish filmmaker David Sandberg tries to intentionally create something so bad that it's great?

Kung Fury is a fast-paced 31 minute action movie that begins with the eponymous police detective and martial arts master taking down a sentient rogue arcade machine, before quitting his job after getting reprimanded by his boss for the resulting collateral damage. He is soon brought back, however, when the legendary martial arts master Adolf Hitler – also known as Kung Führer – travels forward in time and wreaks havoc on Miami. It's up to Fury and his ragtag gang of geeks, gods and warrior maiden vikings to travel through time and stop Hitler's evil kung fu plans once and for all.

The film's plot is obviously a mess, and at 31 minutes, it doesn't have long to cram all of that in. But it's an incredibly beautiful, intentional and brilliant mess, and it's not just the rapid fire references and jokes that make it so.

There is clearly a lot of hard craftsmanship that went into Kung Fury. While many of the effects are obviously digital, there are a lot of clever visual tricks, and the film looks astonishing considering its $630,000 budget (funded via Kickstarter with promotional help from David Hasselhoff).

The choreography deserves a particular mention. As exaggerated as it is, it is still a joy to watch Fury kick ass with all the fluid motion of an arcade classic. The action feels as well choreographed and shot as some of the best martial arts movies out there.

That said, Kung Fury is not a martial a movie at heart, but rather a love letter to 1980s pulp and pop culture. The film has distortion and blemishes characteristic of old VHS and Betamax tapes, and the soundtrack is synthesized to perfection. There is even a brilliantly animated segment made to resemble classic animated series' such as He-Man and Thundercats. And while it is all played for laughs, it is hard not to appreciate the love and care that went into it.

Naturally, with so many '80s elements fighting for space in the sparse half-hour running time, any hopes of a cohesive plot or story are dashed. But the dialogue is so hilariously bad, and the action is so impressive, that it is hard to really care.

Writer/director/star David Sandberg has created a hilarious and affectionate blast to the past. Even if you don't remember the '80s, Kung Fury is such a good time that it makes it worth a view anyway. And as a Kickstarter funded independent film, it brings hope to those who want to make their own movies, like so many '80s classics did for aspiring young filmmakers back in the day. Do yourself a favour and give it a watch. You have nothing to lose.

"I'm going to tell everyone what you did."

Lionsgate have just released their first trailer and new one sheet for Denis Villeneuve's (Prisoners) latest Sicario.

Sicario – Mexican slang for hitman – is set on the lawless border between the United States and its southern neighbour, where some of the most violent battles of the drug war are fought. Dropped into this near literal trial by fire is idealistic FBI agent Kate Macer (Emily Blunt), who has been recruited by shadowy elite government agent Matt (Josh Brolin).

Heading across the border with an enigmatic consultant (Benicio Del Toro), Kate and her team start a journey that will have her questioning everything she knows about good and bad and witnessing the many shades of grey that lie in between what she previously thought were black and white issues. And when she becomes convinced she has to expose what is really going on, things become even more dangerous for her.

This promises to be a compelling thriller with standout performances from Blunt and her co-stars. The film, which features a script by Taylor Sheridan, lands in the US on 18 September before arriving in the UK on 6 November.

First trailer for Kung Fu Panda 3 arrives online

Universal Pictures have just released their first trailer for Jennifer Yuh (Kung Fu Panda 2) and Alessandro Carloni's Kung Fu Panda 3.

DreamWorks Animation have already scored a solid hit this year with Home, and they will be hoping for similar success with one of their workhorse franchises early next year. Prepare, then, for more martial arts and culinary puns as Kung Fu Panda 3 fly kicks its way back into our collective hearts.

The third film finds Jack Black's Po confronting something he never thought possible – the return of his long lost father, Li Shan (Bryan Cranston), though as the trailer shows, our hero doesn't immediately twig that the stranger in town is in fact his dad.

Still, the happy family reunion means that he is able to visit a secret panda paradise where many of his species are still living happily, including Mei Mei (Rebel Wilson). But his joy is short lived, as the supernatural villain Kai is soon sweeping across China, taking out the kung fu masters as he goes. Po is faced with the ultimate challenge – training up a village full of his laid-back, fun loving, clumsy panda cohorts to become a fighting unit to take on the new threat.

With Jennifer Yuh Nelson once more in the director's chair and Alessandro Carloni as co-director, Kung Fu Panda 3 sees the return of the regular voice cast including Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross and James Hong. It will hit our cinemas on 18 March next year.

First trailer and one sheet for The Secret Life Of Pets arrives online

Universal Pictures have just released their first trailer and one sheet for Chris Renaud (Despicable Me) and Yarrow Cheney's The Secret Life Of Pets.

Branching out from the Minion filled world of Despicable Me (2010) and taking on Dr. Seuss tales with The Lorax (2012), the Illumination Entertainment team are turning their hand to the furry friends we share our world with.

As you might be able to figure from the title, the film takes a Toy Story (1995) style peek into the world of pets inhabiting a Manhattan apartment building, and explains how they fill their days once their human owners shuffle off to work. Their time involves swapping stories, making trouble around their homes, getting a massage from a food mixer(!), practicing their cute faces to secure the best snacks and generally chilling.

This first trailer is more an early look at some of the characters, and doesn't really get into the main story. But early reports talked up Max (Louis C.K.) a smart rescue terrier used to being the centre of attention in his home, finding this particular day more challenging than usual thanks to the arrival of mongrel Duke (Eric Stonestreet), and a mishap has the pair find themselves out in the wilds of the New York streets where they will have to stop cunning bunny Snowball (Kevin Hart) from turning the tables on humanity. Albert Brooks (Finding Nemo) is voicing a pet named Tiberius, while Lake Bell (In A World...) is sarcastic kitty Chloe.

This one also boasts the talents of Steve Coogan (Despicable Me 2), Ellie Kemper (21 Jump Street), Jenny Slate (The Lorax), Bobby Moynihan (Monsters University) and Hannibal Buress (Neighbors). With Despicable Me veteran Chris Renaud directing alongside Yarrow Cheney, the script comes from Illumination scripting regulars Brian Lynch, Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio, and The Secret Life Of Pets will be out in the UK on 24 June next year.

"We're going to get hit again and it's going to be a bigger monster."

In seismology, earthquake intensity is measured on the Richter scale. In San Andreas, it is seemingly measured in OMGs. As Dwayne Johnson's (Fast & Furious 6) chiselled LAFD pilot Ray notes the Earth's crust undulating like a fluffed duvet he utters: "Oh my God." Fewer than two minutes later, as Ray's almost ex-wife Emma (Carla Gugino) witnesses the crumbling of a skyscraper, she shrieks: "Oh my God!" It says everything that, no matter how impressive the devastation gets in Brad Peyton's (Journey 2: The Mysterious Island) West Coast rattling flick, the script never gives its cast anything more imaginative to blurt.

Despite some A-grade pixel tweaking in Peyton's digital effects departments, the director is still very much playing in the B-movie sandbox that produced his Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012). Not only does he enjoy sinking land masses, he must also love channelling the early 1970s' silliest genres, moving from creature feature to the disaster movie, in which depth of characterisation too often proved inversely proportional to the size of the effects budget.

While The Impossible (2012) proved that an up-close spin on the genre can flay the emotions, Peyton's dutiful carnival of pixel packing destruction is so dutiful that even a cruise liner being thrown into the Port of San Francisco draws little but yawns of 'seen it all before'.

At least Peyton also follows that genre's trend of recruiting actors whose easy charisma softens much of the screenplay's starch. Johnson has gone from being his Doug McClure (The Land That Time Forgot) to his Charlton Heston (Earthquake) – uncomplicated but monumental. When he tells a rescuee, "Just get up against something sturdy," you know what he really means. Meanwhile, Paul Giamatti (Saving Mr. Banks) gives good exposition as the science boffin who uses knowledge to save lives when he isn't hiding under a table.

It's a shame that '70s social attitudes equally prevail. Despite a token effort to present her as plucky and resourceful, LAFD good guy's daughter Alexandra Daddario (Texas Chainsaw 3D) is only allowed to scream, state the obvious and be rescued at the last second (twice), while similarly distressed damsel Gugino needs her almost ex to pluck her from the roof of a writhing building. The women in this story exist only as prizes for the heroic (but sensitive) men. Sadly another fault in a movie which should only have the one that gave it its title.

If you crave the sort of disaster porn usually dished up by Roland Emmerich (2012), there is certainly plenty here to "Oh my God!" at. But when it comes to character depth or plotting, San Andreas is a sadly familiar wasteland.

Paul Feig starts shooting on Ghostbusters

Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) has taken to Twitter to announce that principle photography has begun on his Ghostbusters (1984) reboot, with the director commemorating the occasion in typically well dressed style. Let's hope he doesn't get any of that ectoplasm on his suit...

And as the cameras start to roll on the film starring Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids), Melissa McCarthy (The Heat), Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live) in Boston (standing in for New York), a few other stories about the movie have emerged, including veteran Ghostbuster and franchise cheerleader Dan Aykroyd praising the direction and the director of the latest incarnation. "It's going to be hot!" he tells Comic Book Resources. "The new one's going to be big. The interplay, and with each of them, their individual voices are so well-defined. They're just such different characters, and there's a friction. There's a dynamic there. I'm not going to spoil it for people, but it's going to be big, big!"

"The thing is, you've got creators all around Hollywood who saw the thing at the original time and are going, 'Wow, I think I've got a take on that. I think I could do something under that umbrella.' And so we've had brilliant creators walk in, from Paul Feig to many others. And we loved the concepts they're coming up with. And this one with the four girls is going to be massive. Oh, man, it's funny. It's intelligent. It hits the right notes, and I'm really excited about it. It refers to the first two in a really neat, classy way, but this is all going to introduce them to a whole new generation of girls that are going to want to be Ghostbusters. We always needed them."

And as for whether Aykroyd's Ray or any of his surviving team original team members might show up? He's not saying. "That's up to the director. If asked, I will show up and be of service. If not, it's totally fine with me. I leave powerful talent like that alone to do their thing."

And, while we're hoping the big surprises are left entirely alone, the Boston Herald got their hands on a basic synopsis for how this take, written by the director with Katie Dippold (The Heat), kicks off. While it's not exactly bursting with big reveals, we would caution any spoiler phobes to look away.

The film reportedly finds Wiig and McCarthy as a pair of unheralded authors who write a book positing that ghosts are real. Flash forward a few years and Wiig lands a prestigious teaching position at Columbia University. All is well, until her book resurfaces and she is laughed out of academia. Wiig reunites with McCarthy and the other two proton pack packing phantom wranglers, and she gets some sweet revenge when ghosts invade Manhattan.

Ghostbusters will be out here on 22 July next year.

Two new trailers for Hotel Transylvania 2 arrive online

Sony Pictures have recently released two new trailers for Genndy Tartakovsky's Hotel Transylvania 2.

When the original Hotel Transylvania (2012) more than $358 million worldwide, a sequel was all but inevitable. Now, with a few new cast additions and what will hopefully be a fresh spin on the story, Hotel Transylvania 2 is heading our way later this year.

Hotel Transylvania 2 is set a few years after the events of the first film and it appears things are changing for the better. Now accepting his human son-in-law Johnny (Andy Samberg), particularly following the birth of his half-human, half-vampire grandson, Dracula (Adam Sandler) has swung the doors of the hotel open to human visitors. And he is also enjoying looking after Dennis while daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) heads with her husband to visit his parents.

But while Drac worries that Dennis isn't enough of a vampire – see the flight test that nearly ends in disaster in the teaser – he has more to be concerned about when his own father, Vlad (Mel Brooks) shows up, and we learn just how old school (or rather, ancient) Vlad's family values are.

The likes of Kevin James (Frank), Steve Buscemi (Wayne), Molly Shannon (Wanda), David Spade (Griffin) and Fran Drescher (Eunice) are back supporting Sandler, with Keegan-Michael Key (Let's Be Cops) taking over as Murray the Mummy.

Hotel Transylvania 2 will be open for business again here on 9 October.

Michael Stuhlbarg joins Story Of Your Life

Often brought in to offer character flavour to films such as Hugo (2011), Men In Black 3 (2012), Lincoln (2012) and Blue Jasmine (2013), Michael Stuhlbarg has also scored some prime leading man roles, such as in the Coen brothers' Serious Man (2009). Now news arrives via The Hollywood Reporter that he is set to plat a main part in Denis Villeneuve's (Prisoners) science fiction film Story Of Your Life.

Amy Adams and her American Hustle (2013) co-star Jeremy Renner are already aboard for the film, written by Eric Heisserer (The Thing). The story follows the Twilight Zone style tale of aliens landing on Earth and the military calling in linguistics specialist Dr. Louise Banks (Adams) to communicate with the occupants of the interplanetary craft. As she explores their language and mindset, Dr. Banks figures out how to think as they do, developing the ability to chrono-synclastically perceive time from the outside. In a nutshell, she is able to remember the future, which clearly has implications, since she can see the ultimate fate of her currently unborn daughter, as well as knowing more about the new arrivals' intentions.

Stuhlbarg will play CIA Agent Halpern, brought in to monitor the international aspects of the project. Villeneuve is currently rolling the cameras with the film set to arrive sometime next year. Next up for Stuhlbarg is Danny Boyle's (127 Hours) Steve Jobs (set for release on 13 November) and Trumbo, which finds Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) playing the blacklisted film writer. That one will be with us on 22 January next year.

Eli Roth set for giant shark thriller Meg

Long gestating shark project Meg has been floating in development limbo for two decades, but finally looks to be surfacing at Warner Bros. Now new arrives via Variety that Eli Roth (Hostel) is in talks to direct the giant prehistoric shark movie. 

Based on the 1997 New York Times bestseller Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror by Steve Alten, the film centres on a female megalodon shark which emerges from the Mariana Trench to wreak havoc more than 2.6m years after it was thought to have become extinct. The megalodon is thought to have resembled a much larger, stockier version of the modern great white shark – they are thought to have been up to 60ft long – which helped usher in the modern blockbuster era via Steven Spielberg's thriller Jaws (1975).

The development of Meg shows just how much the film industry has changed since the 1970s. Warner Bros have only agreed to greenlight the movie, which is based on a screenplay by Dean Georgaris (The Manchurian Candidate), after producers agreed to shift parts of the storyline (involving a pair of shark hunters) from the California coast to Chinese waters in order to capitalise on skyrocketing box office figures in the world's largest nation.

Meg was previously set up at Walt Disney Pictures, which balked at financing the big budget project following the failure of shark flick Deep Blue Sea (1999) to gain traction with critics or audiences. 's Jan de Bont (Speed) and director Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth) are among those reported to have been interested in the project at various points over the past 20 years.

Warner Bros has been inspired in part to move ahead by the success of rival studio Universal Pictures' giant monster movie Jurassic World, which broke the record for the biggest box office opening.

Roth is perhaps best known for 'torture porn' horror Hostel (2005) and its less well received 2007 sequel, although he recently returned to critical favour in 2013 with the cannibal themed The Green Inferno. Meg would surprisingly mark only Roth's third feature film as director since the Hostel movies. The director's latest film to hit our shores, Keanu Reeves (John Wick) thriller Knock Knock, is out now.

Kenneth Branagh in talks to direct Murder On The Orient Express

News arrives via The Wrap that Kenneth Branagh (Thor) is in talks with 20th Century Fox to direct a new version of Agatha Christie's Murder On The Orient Express.

Writer Michael Green (Green Lantern) – who is a busy man these days – is at work on a new adaptation of the murder mystery. First published in 1934, Murder On The Orient Express sees detective Hercule Poirot settling into what he expects will be a relaxing journey home from Istanbul (Constantinople at the time) to Paris. But when an unpopular billionaire is murdered en route, Poirot takes up the case, and everyone on board the famous train is a suspect. Using an avalanche blocking the tracks to his advantage, Poirot gradually realises that many of the passengers have revenge as a motive, and he begins to home in on the culprit.

This new film has been in development since late 2013, with Ridley Scott (Prometheus), Simon Kinberg (X-Men: Days Of Future Past) and Mark Gordon (Source Code) all aboard as producers.

Obviously, this is not the first time Christie's story has been brought to the screen – there have been various TV versions and an Academy Award® winning 1974 big screen adaptation, which saw Albert Finney as Poirot and Ingrid Bergman lifting a trophy for her supporting performance.

It is certainly far from a done deal yet, but Branagh feels like the right man for the job given his work on Shakespeare adaptations and some of his ability to wrangle sizable casts. The bigger question will be who they can get to fill Finney's and – on the small screen – David Suchet's suit and infamous moustache.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Woody Harrelson set to play president in LBJ

President Lyndon Baines Johnson (America's 36th commander-in-chief) has had a run of portrayals on film in recent years, popping up in the likes of Lee Daniels' The Butler (2013), Parkland (2013), Selma (2014) and Get On Up (2014), but usually as a character in someone else's story. Now news arrives via The Hollywood Reporter that he is about to get a new spotlight in LBJ thanks to director Rob Reiner (The Bucket List) and star Woody Harrelson (No Country For Old Men).

Originally developed by producers Tim and Trevor White and with a script from Joey Hartstone (Project Runway), this represents a subject that Reiner has been trying to bring to cinemas for years, ever since announcing back in 1997 that he was going to adapt a biography of the man.

The current version is not directly taken from any one book, but follows Lyndon Baines Johnson's rise from the South to the White House, and the political turmoil he faced when the assassination of John F. Kennedy suddenly catapulted then Vice President Johnson in to the Oval Office's big chair. Facing battles on either side of the spectrum, he attempted to heal the nation and secure his legacy by finally passing his predecessor's Civil Rights Act.

"During the '60s, I was a hippy, and Lyndon Johnson was my president," says Reiner. "At the time LBJ was the target of most of my generation's anti-Vietnam War anger. But as time has passed and my understanding of political realities has grown, I've come to see LBJ in a very different light. He was a complex man, a combination of brilliant political instinct, raw strength, ambition and deep insecurities.

"The strength and power of persuasion that he showed to his colleagues existed alongside of a soft, almost childlike quality that perhaps only (First Lady) Lady Bird got to see. His life's path was nothing short of Shakespearean. From the poor hill country of West Texas to the corridors of power in Washington, he used his brilliant political acumen to pass the most groundbreaking civil rights legislation of the 20th century. And had it not been for the Vietnam War, I believe he would have gone down as one of America's greatest Presidents."

The cameras should be rolling in September in New Orleans, though the project will face some competition from HBO's TV movie All The Way, which finds Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) bringing his Tony Award winning take on LBJ to the screen.

Bradley Cooper set to produce Ghost Army

Clearly enjoying his role as producer on the likes of American Hustle (2013) and American Sniper (2014), Bradley Cooper is now also putting together a World War II project at Warner Bros. News arrives via Deadline that he is set to develop World War II tall tale, Ghost Army, alongside regular honcho Todd Phillips (The Hangover) and producer Andrew Lazar (American Sniper).

Henry Gayden (Earth To Echo) has been tasked with the screenplay, adapting Rick Beyer and Elizabeth Sayles' recently published history book The Ghost Army Of World War II: How One Top-Secret Unit Deceived The Enemy With Inflatable Tanks, Sound Effects, And Other Audacious Fakery. Beyer already used the material in a 2013 documentary, also called Ghost Army.

That extended title probably tells you all to need to know about the film in the offing. The stranger than fiction story involves a secret squad made up of artists, designers, advertising execs and other creative types who were tasked with making the US army look a lot bigger than it was, and in a lot more places than it was, in order to fool the Nazis. This really did involve inflatable tanks, as well as dummies on the ground and fake radio operatives cluttering the airwaves with disinformation. These antics have been credited with saving thousands of lives.

As with his other project, Hyperion, it isn't yet clear whether Cooper also intends to appear in front of the camera. We could certainly imagine him being part of an ensemble cast for this one. There is no start date yet, while Gayden continues work on the screenplay.

Jason Segel in talks for Collateral Beauty

Following Joe Wright's (Atonement) Pan, Hugh Jackman (The Wolverine) and Rooney Mara (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) are already both set to work together again on Collateral Beauty, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon's follow-up to his Sundance Film Festival hit Me And Earl And The Dying Girl. Now news arrives via Variety that they look set to be joined by Jason Segel (Forgetting Sarah Marshall), who is currently in talks to take on an as-yet unspecified role.

Allan Loeb (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps) wrote the screenplay, which revolves around a New York advertising agency, and a man – presumably Jackman's character – struggling with depression after a tragedy that turns his world upside down. Loeb has recently been churning out comedies like Just Go With It (2011), The Dilemma (2011) and Here Comes The Boom (2012), but his earlier work on dramas like Things We Lost In The Fire (2007) and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010) are probably more relevant touchstone here...

Gomez-Rejon, meanwhile, got his start on television with Glee and American Horror Story. He also directed last year's clever 1970s slasher remake The Town That Dreaded Sundown, but told Empire magazine recently that he is keen not to be pegged as "a horror guy". Me And Earl And The Dying Girl and Collateral Beauty certainly look set to get him off that path at some velocity.

Collateral Beauty scored its finance set-up from PalmStar Media at the Cannes Film Market, after attracting a good deal of interest. Segel's own deal isn't quite done yet, but if he signs on the line, he will start shooting with everyone else in the autumn.

Marcus Dunstan set to direct Halloween Returns

It was announced back in February that Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton (The Collection) were finally writing the much delayed new Halloween sequel Halloween Returns. Now news arrives via Deadline that Dunstan will also direct.

Dunstan and Melton are the writing team behind the Saw and Feast films, plus Piranha 3DD (2012). Halloween Returns – the eleventh Halloween – won't be his first gig behind the camera however. He made his debut with The Collector (2009), followed by its sequel The Collection (2012).

There is still nothing officially known about the film's plot or angle, other than that it is planned as a "recalibration" of the Halloween series. Bloody Disgusting have a plot synopsis of unclear origin that involves two now grown-up children of Michael Myers' victims sneaking into death row to watch the slasher's execution, but finding themselves in hot water when everything goes awry and Myers, of course, escapes.*

Deadline actually describe it as "the next instalment of the Halloween reboots," but that's not quite in line with previous studio quotes about drawing a line under the two Rob Zombie films and starting again. Again.

It's certain, of course, that Halloween Returns will involve Michael Myers on a killing rampage on or around Halloween. Beyond that, solid details will no doubt start emerging soon, since Dunstan's cameras are set to start rolling next month.

*See also Shocker (1989) and House III (1989).

Rupert Wyatt set to direct X-Men standalone movie Gambit

Given that the film already has an assigned release date set for next year, 20th Century Fox's latest stab at bringing X-Men hero Gambit to the screen needed to start moving quickly. With Channing Tatum (White House Down) long since attached in the lead, news now arrives via Variety that Rupert Wyatt (Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes) is on board to direct.

Wyatt, who has a little bit of experience marshalling spectacle and special effects thanks to his work on Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes (2011), is the man 20th Century Fox feels can best handle the story of the New Orleans mutant gambler and rogue who can throw playing cards as weapons as he generates and manipulates kinetic energy.

Josh Zetumer (RoboCop) has written the script for the standalone adventure, though there is a chance Gambit may turn up in X-Men: Apocalypse, even if it is just in a post-credit sequence. Gambit is set to arrive in cinemas both here and in the US on 7 October next year.

Katherine Waterston set for Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them

She sizzled in Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice earlier this year, and the role has clearly won her plenty of attention from other filmmakers. News now arrives via The Hollywood Reporter that she is set to join the cast of Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them.

The spirit of the Harry Potter cinematic universe is alive and well at Warner Bros, with the studio going full speed ahead on the first of a planned trilogy based on J.K. Rowling's book Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them.

Harry Potter veteran director David Yates already aboard, with Eddie Redmayne (The Theory Of Everything) starring as Newt Scamander, who plies his trade as a magizoologist around the world, and visits New York in the first adventure. The story takes place roughly 70 years before Harry and the rest have their tangle with the dark forces of Voldemort.

Waterston has scored the plum role of a witch named Tina, also known as Porpentina, who works in the US. Yates is still looking to lock several other main roles including Queenie, Tina's younger sister and Jacob, one of Newt's rivals. The movie will be out here on 18 November next year. As for Waterston, she will next be seen in Danny Boyle's (127 Hours) Steve Jobs, with the film about the Apple co-founder headed to the UK on 13 November.

Maleficent sequel in development

While it may not have hit the stratospheric heights of Alice In Wonderland (2010), live action fairy tale origin story Maleficent (2014) was certainly a winner at the box office, with more than $758 million accrued globally. Perhaps unsurprsingly then, news arrives via Deadline that Walt Disney Pictures are planning a sequel.

It's clearly early days for the follow-up, and the Mouse House have only gone so far as to engage the services of Maleficent screenwriter Linda Woolverton to come up with the script for this one. And naturally, the studio are staying in contact with Angelina Jolie, whose presence would almost certainly be required, but she doesn't have a deal in place as yet. Aside from Kung Fu Panda (2008) and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), she is not usually one for sequels, but Disney will no doubt be able to offer a good deal.

The first film explored a lot of her life, from her early days to how she interconnected with the events of Sleeping Beauty (1959), so we are wondering what she will be up to next. As always, watch this space.

Christian Bale set for The Promise

Although Christian Bale (The Dark Knight Rises) has had to put his plans to star as Travis McGee in the adaptation of The Deep Blue Good-By on hold thanks to a torn knee ligament, it hasn't stopped him from lining up future projects for when he has fully recovered. News arrives via The Hollywood Reporter that he is set to star alongside Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis) in The Promise.

Terry George (Hotel Rwanda) is calling the shots on this one, based on the script he wrote with Robin Swicord (The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button). The Promise is set in the dying days of the Ottoman Empire and explores the relationships between three people – Michael (Isaac), a gifted medical student, Chris (Bale), a renowned American journalist working in Paris, and the beautiful and sophisticated Ana, with that final role yet to be cast.

George plans to have the cameras rolling this autumn in Portugal and the Canary Islands. Tough job.

Bale will next be seen in Terrence Malick's (The Tree Of Life) Knight Of Cups and Weightless, and is  currently at work on Adam McKay's (Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy) financial drama The Big Short. He has also provided the voice of Bagheera for Andy Serkis' (Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes) Jungle Book: Origins, which is due to arrive here in 2017. As for Isaac, the in-demand actor is currently filming X-Men: Apocalypse, out on 19 May next year and will be seen in J.J. Abrams (Star Trek Into Darkness) slightly anticipated Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which lands on December 18.

First quad poster for The Legend Of Barney Thomson arrives online

Icon Film Distribution have recently released their first quad poster for Robert Carlyle's (28 Weeks Later) directorial debut The Legend Of Barney Thomson.

Local hero Carlyle opened this year's Edinburgh International Film Festival last week with his directorial debut The Legend Of Barney Thomson.

Adapting a comic crime novel series, Carlyle stars as Barney, a hopeless barber overcome by some dark urges that lead him into a murderous spree. Cue Ray Winstone's (The Departed) Glasgow detective and his high testosterone colleagues blundering about in pursuit.

Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks), meanwhile, plays Barney's domineering mum and good time girl, Cemolina. It's certainly an intriguing ensemble enhanced by the presence of Tom Courtenay (Quartet), Ashley Jensen (Ugly Betty) and Martin Compston (The Disappearance of Alice Creed) in supporting roles.

The Legend Of Barney Thomson is due for release 24 July.

"The greatest tragedy is not death, but life without purpose."

Paramount Pictures have recently released their first trailer and one sheet for Jerry Jameson's Captive.

Taking its subject matter from a real life story, while changing enough that it uses the phrase 'inspired by' the actual events, the crime drama Captive puts David Oyelowo (Selma) and Kate Mara (127 Hours) in a room together and lets the performance sparks fly.

Captive finds Oyelowo as Brian Nichols, a man in jail awaiting trial. Desperate to make contact with his newborn son, he murders the judge assigned to his case, escapes and becomes the subject of a manhunt across Atlanta led by a driven detective (Michael K. Williams). Across town, there is Ashley Smith (Mara), a young woman struggling with her own issues. A recovering meth addict, she is trying to punch the clock on a minimum wage job and painfully missing her daughter, who was taken from her by the state.

Their lives crash into each other when Brian takes Ashley hostage in her own apartment and the two must find a way to deal with the situation. Ashley picks up a book she has been given – Rick Warren's advice book A Purpose Driven Life – and reads it to Nichols per his demand, an act that changes both of them. It does seem a little like one big advert for the book, but hopefully the talent involved raises it to something more than the latest attempt to grab the attention of a Christian audience.

Brian Bird (Not Easily Broken) adapted the script from the real Smith's memoir An Unlikely Angel and the film will arrive in the US on 18 September. There is no sign of a UK release date as yet.

Chris Pratt's Passengers finally taking off at Sony

Sony Pictures have had science fiction romantic drama Passengers sitting in development limbo for a while now, debating whether to film it or ditch it over budget issues. Now news arrives via The Hollywood Reporter that thanks to the huge success of Jurassic World, the studio are set to green light the film, which will see Chris Pratt (Guardians Of The Galaxy) co-star with another in-demand actor Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games).

Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game) is still attached to direct the story of a spaceship transporting thousands of human colonists to a distant planet. The script, written by Jon Spaihts (Prometheus), chronicles what happens when a malfunction causes one of them (Pratt) to be rudely awakened 90 years before anyone else. Unable to fix the situation and seemingly doomed to spend his time dying alone, he decides to take the unusual and controversial step of waking up a fellow passenger (Lawrence).

Sony Pictures' new boss Tom Rothman had been trying to figure out whether the company could handle the pricey budget (around $120 million with tax breaks) and compensation for the stars. But thanks to Pratt's big new success, he is not only getting paid, but he is receiving a slightly boosted fee, though one still dwarfed by his Academy Award® winning co-star's salary.

It's not the first time the film has had to endure the rigours of the studio system – it has moved from The Weinstein Company (where it was budgeted at $35 million) and Warner Bros, which had Rachel McAdams (Midnight In Paris) circling with a $65 million price tag. Now, however, Tyldum looks set to start the cameras rolling in September on what Sony are hoping might turn out as a blend of Gravity (2013) and a romantic drama.

First look at The Good Dinosaur arrives online

Armed with early footage, character art, storyboards and even an on-screen flick book of his own life story, director Peter Sohn arrived in London recently to reveal how Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar movie, The Good Dinosaur, is shaping up.

"We're trying to create something you've never seen before," he told Empire magazine – though the premise of The Good Dinosaur might feel familiar to Pixar fans. Like every other Pixar movie, the creative start point is a 'what if?' scenario. But this time it's a huge one – what if, all those millions of years ago, that asteroid had missed Earth, and dinosaurs had not only avoided extinction, but continued evolving well into the era that humanity first appeared?

The story's hero is a young Apatosaurus named Arlo (Raymond Ochoa), described by Sohn as "a little goofy kid" who works with his family on their farm, until tragedy strikes and he is whisked miles away by a raging river. On his long journey back, he befriends a strange little creature – a human boy named 'Spot – and together they must face the many dangers that the wilderness throws at them.

"It's a boy and dog relationship," Sohn explained, except the 'boy' is a dinosaur and the 'dog' is a boy. While they face feathered velociraptors, a ravenous flock of pterodactyls (one of which is voiced by Steve Zahn) and a family of T-Rexs (Sam Elliott, Anna Paquin and A.J. Buckley), the prime antagonist of this tale is Mother Nature herself. "It's a place that can eat him up," Sohn said, but which is also capable of "blowing him away" with its sheer beauty.

The audience was certainly blown away by the footage, which revealed Arlo's frantic river ride, and a gorgeous, inventive scene in which Arlo and Spot share their tales of grief and woe... Without a single word spoken between them. A major influence on Sohn was Dumbo (1941), and that is certainly apparent here in what the director summed up as "an emotional coming of age story."

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there was little talk of The Good Dinosaur's long and difficult production, during which it suffered various setbacks and saw its original director, Bob Petersen (Up), replaced by Sohn. Only last week came the announcement that most of the voice cast (except for Frances McDormand, who plays Arlo's mother) had been replaced. The director did admit that storytelling at Pixar could be "a kind of violent process; you build something and tear it down, then build it again. It's not easy, but you find a way to get through. It was a tough thing, but at the same time it is like a family at Pixar."

The Good Dinosaur is out on 27 November.

New trailer and quad poster for Maggie arrives online

Vertigo Films have recently released their latest trailer and quad poster for Henry Hobson's debut feature Maggie.

Trading cigar chomping and gun-toting for fraught and vulnerable, Maggie certainly promises to be a very different kind of film for Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Expendables). This quieter tale of a father caring for his daughter in a terrifying situation is heading to the Toronto International Film Festival where Gold Star films will be hoping the screening spurs interest from distributors.
The long gestating Maggie, written by John Scott 3 and directed by Henry Hobson, finds Schwarzenegger as Wade, a Midwestern farm dad coping with the fact that his young daughter Maggie (Abigail Breslin) has been infected by a rare virus during a zombie apocalypse. Plagued with guilt and indecision, he decides not to put a bullet in her head as she slowly deteriorates, choosing instead to spend all the time she has left by her side.

From the looks of these first images, it appears that the tone could stretch Schwarzenegger, who has usually stuck to dark action drama or broad comedy such as Twins (1988) or Kindergarten Cop (1990). If successful, it could certainly launch his career in a new and interesting direction. But that's still a pretty big if.

Maggie, which also stars Joely Richardson (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) and Laura Cayouette (Django Unchained), arrives in cinemas on 24 July.

Forest Whitaker set for Star Wars: Rogue One

Forest Whitaker (Lee Daniels' The Butler) has already made several trips into science fiction and fantasy in his career, but it seems he is ready to make the biggest leap yet. News arrives via Variety that he is in talks to join both the remake of The Crow and Gareth Edwards' (Godzilla) Star Wars Anthologies: Rogue One.

Edwards' Star Wars Anthologies: Rogue One will focus on events before Star Wars (1977) itself, also known as Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope. Felicity Jones (The Theory Of Everything), Riz Ahmed (Ill Manors) and Diego Luna (Milk) are all part of a ragtag rebel squad looking to heist the plans for the first Death Star. Ben Mendelsohn (Killing Them Softly), meanwhile, is aboard as a villain in some capacity. As for Whitaker, his role is being kept behind the film's defensive deflector shields for now.

And then there is The Crow, which has Corin Hardy attempting a new adaptation of James O'Barr's tragic graphic novel, which sees musician Eric Draven murdered by criminals before being brought back from the land of the dead by a mysterious, mystical crow to get revenge against those who wronged him and his fiancée. The role of Draven will now need to be re-cast, with news arriving via Variety recently that Jack Huston (Boardwalk Empire) has had to drop out due to scheduling. Andrea Riseborough (Oblivion) is attached as the villainous Top Dollar, but it is not yet known whether Whitaker will be on the side of good or bad. According to Variety, it appears he will work on The Crow before he heads off to the galaxy far, far away. 

Whitaker is currently at work on Denis Villeneuve's (Prisoners) science fiction drama The Story Of Your Life right now, and has boxing drama Southpaw due here on 24 July.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Jack Huston leaves The Crow

Following the recent announcement that Forest Whitaker (The Last King Of Scotland) was in talks to join the cast of Corin Hardy's The Crow, news now arrives via Variety that leading man Jack Huston (Boardwalk Empire) has had to leave the film even as pre-production continues.

This is the latest blow for a project that has been a revolving door of scripts, directors and leading men. Luke Evans (Dracula Untold) was attached for a while, but Huston, best known for Boardwalk Empire, American Hustle (2013) and Kill Your Darlings (2013), was cast to replace him back in March, but has now had to drop out due to scheduling issues. "Jack Huston is unfortunately unavailable to continue with us on The Crow," Hardy says in a statement. "The Crow is an amazing project, and I am grateful that we have the time and patience to get it right. We look forward to unveiling our new lead and starting to film over the next several weeks."

Relativity Studios, which is backing the new film, also seemed upbeat about the departure and the future of the movie itself. "Jack is a remarkably gifted actor, and we look forward to working with him in the future," the studio said. "Corin Hardy has a tremendous vision for The Crow, and we are working closely with him to continue prepping the movie and supporting him as he brings his vision to the big screen."

Hardy is working to adapt James O'Barr's gothic graphic novel, which sees Eric Draven as a musician murdered by criminals before being brought back from the land of the dead by a mysterious, mystical crow to get revenge against those who wronged him and his fiancée. Alex Proyas brought the story to the screen in 1994, but the new film reportedly hews even closer to O'Barr's story while making some interesting changes such as casting Andrea Riseborough (Oblivion) as the villainous Top Dollar.

Pre-production is already underway in Wales and the studio was hoping to have the movie ready for release next year. With luck, Hardy will still be able to keep things on track.

Huston can currently be seen in Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook) adaptation The Longest Ride. He also has Pride And Prejudice And Zombies due for release 19 February 2016 and Timur Bekmambetov's (Wanted) new take on Ben Hur, which is set to arrive 11 March 2016. As for the film that helped score Hardy the directing job, The Hallow is out now.

New trailer and one sheet for 13 Minutes arrives online

StudioCanal have recently released their latest trailer and one sheet for Oliver Hirschbiegel's (Downfall) 13 Minutes.

Having won major attention – including an Academy Award® nomination – with his look at the last days of Adolf Hitler in Downfall (2004), Oliver Hirschbiegel tried his hand at Hollywood with the unsuccessful likes of The Invasion (2007) and Diana (2013). Now he has back in a Hitler adjacent story for World War II drama 13 Minutes.

The film explores the compelling true life story of Georg Elser (Christian Friedel), a German carpenter who had spent most of his life largely eschewing politics. But, sickened by what he had seen of the Nazi regime and its treatment of his fellow countrymen and others, he swore to assassinate Hitler, carefully working on a bomb plot for a Nazi convention in Munich in 1939.

We obviously know that his attempt failed, but the real interest here is looking at why a man who had shown so little interest in politics would be driven to such lengths, and the consequences that came his way when he was caught.

With Katharine Schüttler (A Coffee In Berlin), Burghart Klaußner (Good Bye Lenin!) and Johann von Bülow (The Stranger In Me) also in the cast, 13 Minutes will arrive in the UK on 17 July and is initially scheduled to screen exclusively in Picturehouse Cinemas before a more general release on 24 July.

New character one sheets for Crimson Peak arrive online

Universal Pictures have recently released a fresh batch of character one sheets for Guillermo del Toro's (Pacific Rim) new gothic horror Crimson Peak.

Crimson Peak finds Mia Wasikowska (Stoker) as author Edith Cushing, who is newly married to the charming and heroic Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston). She moves to live with him in the titular massive, crumbling family pile in Cumbria. But soon after she arrives, she discovers that her husband is not who he appears to be, and the house itself has some very dark secrets.

Chastain, meanwhile, plays Lady Lucille Sharpe, Sir Thomas's sister, a woman who no doubt carries her fair share of dangerous mysteries swirling about her.

With Charlie Hunnam (Pacific Rim), Burn Gorman (The Dark Knight Rises), Doug Jones (Pan's Labyrinth), Leslie Hope (Never Back Down) and Jim Beaver (Next) also aboard, Crimson Peak will haunt our cinemas on 16 October.

New trailer for Snoopy & Charlie Brown: A Peanuts Movie arrives online

20th Century Fox have recently released their latest trailer for Steve Martino's (Ice Age: Continental Drift) Snoopy & Charlie Brown: A Peanuts Movie.

There's always a danger when cultural icons are fed into the CG vortex for a big screen update that some of their charm ends up sucked away in the pixelation process.

Given how beloved Charles M. Schulz's comic strip remains, the pressure is naturally on all involved to find some way to bring Charlie Brown, faithful, imaginative hound Snoopy and the rest of the gang back to screens in a way that honours their memory and yet keeps things fresh. No easy thing when your competition is a strip that was enjoyed every day by 355 million people and TV specials that have been with us for 50 years.

Director Martino and producer Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) are at pains to stress that this won't be a pop culture infused, social media aware version of the beloved Charles Schulz characters, just a simple tale of Charlie Brown on a quest to get something he's sure he requires, even if that turns out to be wrong.

But it will also still allow for his canine companion to have literal flights of fantasy, including a battle with old nemesis The Red Baron. "We really get to go into his mind and see what this crazy dog is imagining every day of his life," says producer and writer Craig Schulz, who, as you might guess from the name, is one of Schulz's sons.

From the looks of the imagery, they've certainly captured the feel of the classic cartoons with a coat of modern CG paint. "You love being back in that world," Feig tells USA Today. "And you immediately want to grab every kid you know and go, 'Oh, my God, you've got to watch this!'"

Snoopy And Charlie Brown: A Peanuts Movie arrives in the UK on 21 December.