Monday, 31 August 2015

Wes Craven: Horror maestro dies aged 76

American horror film director Wes Craven, creator of the Nightmare On Elm Street franchise and so much more in the pantheon of horror and beyond, has died at the age of 76.

A statement released by his family said Craven died at his Los Angeles home on Sunday from brain cancer.

A pioneer of the slasher genre, Craven once said of his work: "Horror films don't create fear. They release it."

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Craven's initial career after college was in academia, teaching English at Westminster College in Pennsylvania and humanities at Clarkson College of Technology, in Potsdam, New York. But after working as a sound editor in a post-production company in Manhattan, he was lured away by a seemingly more lucrative career in the pornographic film industry, where he worked as a writer and editor of various films using several pseudonyms, including Abe Snake.

He shifted his focus to the horror genre with a chance to direct something people would more readily admit to watching – though it was the controversial rape revenge drama The Last House On The Left (1972). With that success – it earned $3 million on an $87,000 budget – his film career quickly took off and went on to direct the likes of The Hills Have Eyes (1977), Deadly Blessing (1981) and Swamp Thing (1982). But the biggest impact he would have on the genre and filmmaking in general came with A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984), which introduced the razor gloved Freddy Krueger to the world. While he wasn't involved with most of the sequels, he did write the third and came back for New Nightmare (1994), which put a post-modern spin on the idea. The meta theme continued with Scream (1996), which saw Craven directing Kevin Williamson's script. The film was a huge success and spawned a further three sequels.

He didn't often stray outside of genre, though he did experiment, with such films as Music Of The Heart (1999), which starred Meryl Streep. Still, he seemed content to be a writer, director, occasional actor and inspiration for the horror genre, with several of his movies remade and Scream generating a current TV series.

"I can see that I give my audience something," he once told fellow filmmaker Mick Garris (Sleepwalkers) in an interview. "I can see it in their eyes, and they say thank you a lot. You realize you are doing something that means something to people. So shut up and get back to work."

Reflecting on his career, Craven remarked that his intention was always to innovate: "I tried to make movies where I can honestly say I haven't seen that before and to follow my deepest intuitions and in some cases literally my dreams."

Actress Courtney Cox, who starred in Craven's Scream and appeared in the franchise's three subsequent films, tweeted: "Today the world lost a great man, my friend and mentor, Wes Craven. My heart goes out to his family. x"

Rose McGowan, who also featured in the original Scream, said: "Thank you for being the kindest man, the gentlest man, and one of the smartest men I've known. Please say there's a plot twist."

Our thoughts are with his friends and family.

New Line developing another Nightmare On Elm Street

Five years on from the Platinum Dunes remake with Jackie Earle Haley, news arrives via Bloody Disgusting that New Line Cinema are planning to resurrect Freddy Krueger again, with another new Nightmare On Elm Street. Toby Emmerich (The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug) will be among New Line's producers, while David Leslie Johnson (Orphan) will write the screenplay.

A Nightmare On Elm Street, of course, arrived from horror legend Wes Craven in 1984, making an instant star of Robert Englund and an unlikely, wisecracking pop culture juggernaut of undead child killer Freddy. Five sequels of variable quality followed, plus an anthology TV series and Wes Craven's New Nightmare, in which the director tried to take back his character and make him frightening again. Englund's final scrape of the glove was in Freddy Vs Jason (2003), mashing up the franchise with Friday The 13th (1980).

The Michael Bay produced 2010 remake turned a profit but enthused nobody, even though Haley made a decent fist of it. Music video director Samuel Bayer's film toyed with the interesting idea that Freddy was actually innocent, and therefore wrongly murdered by the Elm Street parents. But it bottled it at the end and said Freddy did it after all. If he is innocent there is no reason for him to have the glove anyway, so despite seeming like a game changing notion it simply didn't work. Bayer hasn't directed a film since.

Details of this new Nightmare On Elm Street are currently under wraps, but with Halloween, Friday The 13th and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre all at various stages of journeys to new instalments, it was probably unthinkable that the fourth of modern horror's big four wouldn't be back at some point too.

Johnson started out as an assistant to Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption), and went on to write Red Riding Hood (2011) and Wrath Of The Titans (2012). But he has an increasing horror pedigree having written Orphan (2009), two episodes of The Walking Dead, and The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Poltergeist. One of his as-yet unproduced screenplays also provided early material for the new Dungeons & Dragons.

His immediate problem will be finding an angle that doesn't feel like the same story yet again. And for New Line there is again the difficulty of re-casting – unless Robert Englund or Jackie Earle Haley...

Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Michael Shannon set for Nocturnal Animals

Tom Ford, who is gearing up to make Nocturnal Animals, the follow up to his debut A Single Man (2009), already has Jake Gyllenhaal (Prisoners) and Amy Adams (American Hustle) in the cast. Now news arrives via Variety that he is adding Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Savages) and Michael Shannon (The Iceman) to the mix.

Ford based his script on Austin Wright's 1993 novel Tony And Susan. Split into two chunks, one part of the plot follows a woman (Adams), who receives a book manuscript and a note asking for her opinion on it, sent by her ex-husband, who she left 20 years before. In the other, Gyllenhaal plays a man whose family holiday turns violent.

Taylor-Johnson is aboard to play a mysterious man who may pose a threat to Gyllenhaal's family, while Shannon will be the detective who investigates the incident. Focus Features is backing the film, which Ford is looking to have on screens next year.

Taylor-Johnson, last seen in Avengers: Age Of Ultron, will make Ford's film as his next job. Shannon, meanwhile, is much busier, with 99 Homes, Freeheld, Wolves, Midnight Special and Elvis & Nixon just some of the films his future slate. He is also set to work on The Price and State Like Sleep.

Sony planning two new Bad Boys films

There has been a lot of chatter recently surrounding the long gestating and occasionally vaporous third Bad Boys film. A couple of writers have come and gone since around 2009, with Joe Carnahan (The Grey) being the latest name to take a crack at the script with an eye to potentially direct. It seems Sony Picures are clearly feeling confident about his take on the franchise, with news arriving via Deadline that the studio have announced a release date for not one new film, but two.

With their current output lagging behind some of the other major studios, Sony Pictures could certainly use the return (or even reincarnation) of one of their biggest franchises, and Bad Boys has performed well in the past. The big question though will be whether the new films can lure back franchise stalwarts Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, but these films are clearly something Sony is willing to plant flags for, setting Bad Boys 3 for 17 February 2017 (in the US at least) and the fourth outing on 3 July 2019.

The news comes as part of a big dates announcement by the studio that includes several other notable releases such as Antoine Fuqua's (The Equalizer) The Magnificent Seven moving back into 2016 in the US, settling in September, the Chris Pratt (Guardians Of The Galaxy) and Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games) starring science fiction thriller Passengers, scheduled for 21 December the same year, and Stephen King adaptation The Dark Tower, which is finally set for release on 13 January 2017.

We are also happy to see that Edgar Wright's (The World's End) latest, Baby Driver, is also now officially on the calendar, scoring a 17 March 2017 slot, with game adaptation Uncharted breaking out of development limbo for a 30 June release the same year. For the full list of future releases, head over to Deadline.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Coen brothers set to adapt Ross MacDonald's Black Money

While they often generate their own ideas, Joel and Ethan Coen have been known to base films on other writers' work. News arrives via Deadline that Warner Bros has them doing just that, hiring the award winning sibling duo to adapt Ross MacDonald's 1966 crime novel Black Money with an eye to possibly directing it.

While they haven't decided whether they will actually make the film themselves, it certainly sounds like something that could have them steering into Fargo (1996) territory, albeit with more of a noir angle. MacDonald's book focuses on private eye Lew Archer, who is hired by a jilted lover to investigate the Frenchman who ran off with his girlfriend.

As so often happens with tales like this, it is a case that Lew probably wishes he hadn't started digging into, as he soon finds himself deep into a conspiracy that connects the boyfriend to a suicide from years ago and a mountain of gambling debts.

Joel Silver (Sherlock Holmes) is aboard to produce this one, with the studio hoping it could prove a fruitful match-up of filmmakers and source material along the lines of Paul Thomas Anderson's rather excellent Inherent Vice (2014). It would certainly be a contrast from Joel and Ethan's current project, ensemble comedy drama Hail, Caesar!, which is out here on 26 February next year.

New TV spot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens arrives online

Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm have recently released a Korean TV spot for J.J. Abrams' (Star Trek Into Darkness) Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The 30 second clip contains Supreme Leader Snoke's (Andy Serkis) voiceover from the first teaser trailer, with much of the footage recycled from the second. There is, however, a new shot – a spectacular sweeping look at The First Order (formerly known as the Imperial army). And it they certainly look like a force to be reckoned with. Fans are speculating that that is Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) and possibly General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) looking out across the army of stormtroopers from the platform. We also get a slightly longer look at Kylo Ren (Adam Driver):

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

Star Wars: The Force Awakens arrives on 18 December. 

New one sheet for Legend arrives online

StudioCanal have recently released their latest one sheet for Brian Helgeland's (L.A. Confidential) upcoming Kray twins drama, Legend, starring Tom Hardy (Lawless) as the nefarious underworld kingpins.

L.A. Confidential's (1997) Brian Helgeland is once more in a historical crime arena, adapting John Pearson's book The Progression Of Violence. Legend dips into the dark underbelly of the swinging 1960s, when sharp-suited gangsters warred for turf and control, and innocent people were caught in the middle of the conflict, although criminals like Ronnie and Reggie Kray (Hardy) liked to claim they only went after the competition.

Emily Browning (Sleeping Beauty), David Thewlis (War Horse), Christoph Eccleston (Thor: The Dark World), Taron Egerton (The Smoke), Tara Fitzgerald (Game Of Thrones) and Chazz Palminteri (A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints) fill out the main cast for the film, which is set to arrive 9 September.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

New trailer for Dope arrives online

Sony Pictures have recently released their UK trailer for Rick Famuyiwa's (The Wood) Dope.

A critical hit and audience favourite at this years Sundance Film Festival, Dope follows high school senior Malcolm (Shameik Moore) and his friends Jib (Tony Revolori) and Diggy (Kiersey Clemons) as they bond over '90s hip-hop culture, their studies and playing music in their own punk band. A drug dealer named Dom (Rakim Mayers) takes a shine to Malcolm and invites him to his birthday party. Things start to turn nasty and the friends flee – with the Ecstasy that Dom secretly hid in Malcolm's backpack. A wild adventure ensues as the gang try to evade armed thugs who want their stash back.

Dope lands in UK cinemas on 4 September.

First teaser trailer and quad poster for Dad's Army arrives online

Universal Pictures have recently released their first teaser trailer and quad poster for Oliver Parker's (Johnny English Reborn) Dad's Army.

It has been a while since Mr Hitler crossed swords with Walmington-on-Sea's finest – the last episode of Dad's Army aired in 1977 – but the khaki clad codgers are back in action and desperate to prove they are more than remainder stock while the British Army is out giving the Nazis what for.

From the looks of this, the film has certainly captured the spirit of the show, with its bumbling Home Guard patrol forever doing their best to keep wartime Britain safe while never quite getting it right. The big test, of course, will be the film itself, but there is certainly decent signs here, with Toby Jones in particular finding a take on Captain Mainwaring that doesn't copy Arthur Lowe's impeccable original, but echoes it.

Oliver Parker is directing the remake of the classic Jimmy Perry/David Croft sitcom, which features a wide array of big British talent including Toby Jones (as Captain George Mainwaring himself), Bill Nighy (as Sergeant Arthur Wilson), Michael Gambon (as Private Godfrey), Tom Courtenay (as Corporal Jones), Bill Paterson (as Private Frazer), Daniel Mays, (as Private Walker) and Blake Harrison (as Private Pike). The cast also includes the likes of Catherine Zeta-Jones (The Terminal), Sarah Lancashire (When Did You Last See Your Father?), Alison Steadman (Life Is Sweet) and Mark Gatiss (Sherlock).

Dad's Army will arrive in UK cinemas next year.

First trailer for Fathers And Daughters arrives online

Voltage Pictures have recently released their first trailer for Gabriele Muccino's (The Pursuit of Happyness) Fathers And Daughters.

Director Gabriele Muccino often plays with the themes of family struggles in his movies, and Fathers And Daughters looks to explore another take on dealing with those closest to you.

The film, written by Brad Desch, finds Russell Crowe (Man Of Steel) as a successful, widowed writer caring for his young daughter Katie (Kylie Rogers). Initially it seems they have a strong bond, but when he falls seriously ill and has to send the girl to live with family (Bruce Greenwood and Diane Kruger), their connection is severely tested.

Running parallel to that is the story of the grown Katie (Amanda Seyfried), who is still dealing with the fallout from her troubled childhood, and has problems maintaining relationships. Which is where Aaron Paul's (Breaking Bad) Cameron comes in – he is a fan of her dad's writing and falls for Katie, but their love match is seemingly doomed to fail.

There is often a concern that a film like this could sink into melodrama, particularly given the issues of parent/child bonding, love and illness, but hopefully Muccino and his cast, which also includes Jane Fonda (Monster-in-Law), Octavia Spencer (The Help), Janet McTeer (Tideland) and Quvenzhané Wallis (12 Years A Slave), will steer clear of the usual pitfalls. While the film has several release dates across Europe, there is no word on release date for the US or UK as yet.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Two new TV spots for Sinister 2 arrive online

Entertainment One have recently released two new TV spots for Ciarán Foy's (Citadel) Sinister 2.

Sinister 2 is set after the events of the first film, but switches the point of view to Shannyn Sossamon's (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) protective mother Courtney, who has moved to a rural farmhouse with her twin boys. But then strange things start to happen. Because, as she will soon discover, a family was brutally murdered in the place she now lives, which is all tied to a mysterious, ghoulish bogeyman that feeds of the corruption of children and has a legion of scary spirit kids who lurk about the place.

"The mythology in the second film is explored more in terms of the mechanics of how Bughuul's curse works," Foy explained to Empire magazine recently. "You find out a little bit more about him and how he operates: the mythology in terms of the kill films and the meaning behind them as sacrificial offerings is expanded upon. There’s a new character called Stomberg, who imparts some new information..."

There's no Ethan Hawke this time, with Sossamon, James Ransone (Inside Man) and Tate Ellington (Remember Me) leading the adult cast, and Dartanian Sloan (Hick), Caden M. Fritz, Jaden Klein (Mother's Milk) and a spooky looking Lucas Jade Zumann among the kids.

Sinister 2 arrives on our screens from 21 August.

"You know what I'm afraid of? Nothing."

Lionsgate have recently released their latest trailer and one sheet for Breck Eisner's (The Crazies) The Last Witch Hunter.

The movie finds Vin Diesel (Fast & Furious 6) as a semi-immortal warrior who finds himself in present day New York having to face down a powerful witch queen intent on unleashing a terrible plague that could wipe out the human race.

His chief ally in the fight, however, is a female witch (Game Of Thrones' Rose Leslie), who teams up with him to help take down the rising evil. We get a little more background on Leslie in particular here, with the revelation that she is a 'Dream Walker' who can cross between our world and the magical realm of the witches, a handy talent that Diesel's Kaulder must exploit to put a stop to the queen's dastardly plan. There is just one small catch – like The Matrix (1999) and Inception (2010), if you die in the dream realm, you die in real life too.

Elijah Wood (Maniac), meanwhile, plays a young priest who is sworn to help Diesel in his struggle, with Julie Engelbrecht (The Red Baron) as the main villain and Michael Caine (Harry Brown) and Ólafur Darri Ólafsson (The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty) also aboard. Diesel, with typical bravado, is already talking up the idea of a sequel, but the film will have to perform first.

The Last Witch Hunter is set to arrive in the UK 23 October.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Samuel L. Jackson and Tom Wilkinson may voyage to Kong: Skull Island

After losing Michael Keaton (Birdman) and J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) to scheduling clashes last month, Legendary/Universal Pictures and Kong: Skull Island director Jordan Vogt-Roberts (The Kings Of Summer) are moving quickly to secure replacements. Now news arrives via Deadline that the filmmakers are aiming to lock in Samuel L. Jackson (Django Unchained), John C. Reilly (Carnage) and Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton) to join the cast.

Wilkinson appears to be the one closest to committing – according to Deadline, he has an offer on the table and may end up signing on to the adventure film. As for Jackson, he is currently in early talks to take on the role that Simmons was to have played, but there is no firm negotiations yet. Reilly, meanwhile, is at the top of wish list of people being sought after to take on Keaton's vacated part.

If they do all actually join the film, they will be part of a cast that includes Tom Hiddleston (Thor: The Dark World), Brie Larson (The Spectacular Now) and the recently cast Corey Hawkins (Non-Stop). The film, written in various different drafts by Max Borenstein (Godzilla), John Gatins (Flight) and Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler), finds explorers headed to the fog shrouded, mysterious titular island and encounters with the creatures that lurk there. As they venture deeper within the place, they encounter yet more surprises. All being well, the film will roar on to our screens on 10 March 2017.

First trailer and one sheet for By The Sea arrives online

Universal Pictures have recently released their first trailer and one sheet for Angelina Jolie's (Unbroken) By The Sea.

The last time Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie Pitt sparred on screen, it was as married assassins in Mr. And Mrs. Smith (2005). Don't expect many explosions in their latest joint venture, unless you mean of the emotional kind.

Written and directed by Jolie, this is much more of an intimate drama, a throwback to 1970s films set in the era itself, and finds Vanessa (Joile), a former dancer, and her husband Roland (Pitt), an American writer, travelling the French countryside together. They seem to be growing apart, but when they linger in one quiet, seaside town they begin to draw close to some of its more vibrant inhabitants, such as a local bar/café-keeper and a hotel owner. Obviously there are issues to be worked out here, and from the looks of this, there will be tears, if not blood.

The tone is clear in this one, with Jolie Pitt spotlighting the couple's interaction and just a glimpse in this initial peek at the film of supporting characters played by Mélanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds), Melvil Poupaud (Laurence Anyways), Niels Arestrup (War Horse) and Richard Bohringer (The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover). By The Sea arrives in the US this November before making it to UK shores on 11 December.

"He's here to kill you..."

20th Century Fox have recently 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).

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

Laurence Fishburne in talks to join Passengers

After a long time floating in development limbo, much praised science fiction script Passengers is finally gathering the people it needs to make its voyage, with Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game) in the director's chair and Chris Pratt (Guardians Of The Galaxy) and Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games) attached to star. Now news arrives via The Hollywood Reporter that Tyldum is currently looking to add Laurence Fishburne (Man Of Steel) to the mix.

The script, written by Jon Spaihts (Prometheus), chronicles a ship en route to a distant colony with all of its crew in cryposleep. A malfunction causes one man (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).

Quite what Fishburne will be up to, even if he does make a deal, has yet to be announced. We do at least know what one other cast member is doing in the film, after Michael Sheen (Frost/Nixon) signed up last month to play the ship's robot.

Passengers should be filming later this year, with Sony Pictures recently announcing a 21 December 2016 release date in the States. Whether we get it at the same time or close to that date has yet to be ascertained. Fishburne, who was part of the cast of the late, lamented Hannibal TV series, will be seen in Standoff and is back as Perry White in Zack Snyder's Man Of Steel (2013) follow-up Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice, due for release on 25 March.

Corey Hawkins set for Kong: Skull Island

He has already been receiving early praise for his performance as the younger Dr. Dre in N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton, and now Corey Hawkins is about to head off on an entirely different sort of journey. News arrives via Variety that he is set to join the cast of Kong: Skull Island.

Hawkins will star alongside Tom Hiddleston (Thor: The Dark World) and Brie Larson (The Spectacular Now) in the movie, which will find an expedition headed to the fog shrouded, mysterious titular island and encounters with the creatures that lurk there. 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).

The film is gearing up to shoot later this year with a 10 March 2017 release date already on the calendar. As for Hawkins, who has had roles in the likes of Non-Stop (2014), Romeo And Juliet (2014) and Iron Man 3 (2013), he will also be seen on the small screen in the new season of The Walking Dead as Heath, a character seen in the comics as part of the team at Alexandria. 

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Peter Berg looks set to direct Patriots' Day

While it looked as though Lionsgate might be pulling ahead in the rush to make a film about the April 2013 bomb attack on the Boston Marathon with news of Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler) mulling the lead, new arrives via Variety that CBS Films are countering by closing in on a deal for Peter Berg (Lone Survivor) to direct Patriots' Day.

According to Variety, he is in final negotiations to make the film, which would be another real life tale after Lone Survivor (2013) and the upcoming Deepwater Horizon. And, assuming the actor/producer actually makes a deal himself, it would also mark Berg's third film in a row with Mark Wahlberg (Lone Survivor), who has been trying to help get the movie made for a while, but might have to duck out of a lead role if scheduling becomes an issue.

Patriots' Day is based on the account of Boston Police commissioner Ed Davis, with the producers securing his life rights and setting Bridge Of Spies writer Matt Charman to work on the script.

Stronger has David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express) directing and there is also a third project bubbling away at 20th Century Fox, seemingly lagging behind the other two. As mentioned, Berg is at work on Deepwater Horizon, about the explosion aboard the titular rig in April 2010. He is also gearing up to make Mile 22 early next year, so Patriots' Day would likely have to wait until after that.

Corey Stoll set for Woody Allen's next film

Woody Allen (Midnight In Paris) may not be enjoying that many great reviews for his current film, Irrational Man, but he is, as ever, ploughing on with his next annual project which is traditionally holding back its title. We do, however, know who will be part of the cast, with news arriving via The Wrap that Corey Stoll (Ant-Man) and Parker Posey (The House Of Yes) are the latest additions.

The cast are Allen's usual blend of people he has worked with before and new faces – Corey Stoll is a veteran of Midnight In Paris (2011), while Parker Posey is in Irrational Man. They join a cast that already includes Kristen Stewart (The Runaways), Bruce Willis (Looper), Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network), Blake Lively (Savages), Ken Stott (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey), Anna Camp (The Help), Jeannie Berlin (Inherent Vice), Stephen Kunken (The Wolf Of Wall Street), Sari Lennick (A Serious Man) and Paul Schneider (Lars And The Real Girl). As for what the film will be about is anyone's guess at this stage. Let's hope it won't be another tale of a rough around the edges intellectual who charms a young woman.

Allen is gearing up to start shooting in Los Angeles and his old stomping grounds of New York this month, with no set release date as yet. As always, watch this space.

Chris Pine set for Comancheria

Despite the apparent casting of Chris Pine (Star Trek), Ben Foster (3:10 To Yuma) and Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart) in the lead roles, and the presence of Starred Up (2013) director David Mackenzie calling the shots, new dramatic thriller Comancheria had managed to skim largely under the radar. News arrives via Screen International that the film is now shooting as part of a roundup of film acquisitions. 

Details about Comancheria are scarce at this point, but we do at least now know that Chris Pine and Ben Foster are playing a divorced father and his ex-con brother who must pull off a desperate scheme to save their family's farm.

The likes of Katy Mixon (Drive Angry), Dale Dickey (Iron Man 3) and Kevin Rankin (Dallas Buyers Club) are also in the cast, and the script comes from Sicario's Taylor Sheridan. It has been snapped up by indie distributors Ascot Elite, a Swiss team that has also nabbed deals for the likes of Quentin Tarantino's (Django Unchained) The Hateful Eight and Gold, which stars Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club).

Quite when Comancheria will hit these shores is anyone's guess, as while it has US (and now Swiss) distribution, there is no sign of a UK company aboard as yet. Still, we should expect to see it some time next year, assuming a deal closes.

Carla Gallo set to return for Bad Neighbours 2

With director Nicholas Stoller gathering most of the main cast back for comedy sequel Bad Neighbours 2, we were hoping that Carla Gallo's name would crop up, as she got short shrift the first time around. Good news, then, with word arriving via The Wrap that she will show up for what is reportedly called Bad Neighbours 2: Sorority Rising.

The film reunites Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne as Mac and Kelly Radner, who in the first movie had to deal with the loud, obnoxious frat brotherhood (led by Zac Efron's Teddy) that moved in next door. A prank war quickly escalated, though there was something of an understanding between Mac and the finally graduated Teddy by the end. And indeed he will come in useful when an even worse crowd, a sorority led by Chloë Grace Moretz (Carrie), takes over the house next door in the sequel.

Gallo, who played wild Radner friend Paula, will hopefully get more screen time with hubby Jimmy (Ike Barinholtz), as they both saw the majority of their scenes hit the cutting room floor in the 2014 original. Stoller is a writer on this one alongside Rogen and Evan Goldberg (This Is The End), plus Andrew Jay Cohen and Brendan O'Brien, who wrote the first outing. The film is set to start shooting this year and should be out on 6 May next year.

Brad Peyton set for military adventure

Having already arranged a follow-up to this summer's San Andreas with the monster mashing video game adaption Rampage, director Brad Peyton has now added another project to the pile. News arrives via The Hollywood Reporter that he is set to direct an as yet untitled "high concept military action-adventure" movie for Sony Pictures, from a screenplay by Iron Man (2008) writers Art Marcum and Matt Holloway.

That is the extent of the information available so far – along with there being no title, the plot is also under wraps. But it is certainly evidence of Peyton's sudden ascent to the ranks of sought after studio action directors, after San Andreas achieved the rank of Warner Bros' second biggest hit of the year. The earthquake action epic starred Dwayne Johnson, as did Peyton's previous Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012), and as will Rampage (and the possible Journey 3). So it certainly can't hurt to have Johnson in his camp.

Marcum and Holloway, meanwhile, have rapidly become one of those name writing teams often attached to big projects even though not that many films have yet been made from their work. Their sole post Iron Man credit on a completed film is Punisher: War Zone (2008), but they have been hard at work on developing new versions of Highlander, Alien Nation and Buck Rogers, along with Transformers 5 and possible spin-offs for the robots in disguise franchise.

Neal H. Moritz (I Am Legend) and Ori Marmur (Battle Los Angeles) are the producers of this new military project, through their Original Films banner. Peyton will also executive produce, along with his partner Jeff Fierson. As always, watch this space.

"The Syndicate is real. A rogue nation, trained to do what we do."

"Are you sure, you're okay to drive?" enquires Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) to his best friend and indefatigable super spy, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise). "A minute ago you were dead." Naturally, a barely conscious Hunt is about to do just that – grab the wheel and commence a high speed chase, comprising of a soon to be trashed BMW and a dozen enemy motorbikes, through the back streets of Casablanca having recently been brought back into possession of a heartbeat with a defibrillator.

This is, after all, what he does for a living. Besides which, the ridiculously sexy Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) – of no fixed moral compass – is making off with a drive containing crucial 'red box' data that could bring down The Syndicate, thus preventing war and exonerating the IMF, who have been disavowed by the American government thanks to the underhanded persuasion of CIA director Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin).

Care of the flat out thrills mustered by this latest Cruise vehicle, our hearts are just about hanging on in there too. It's what the rather splendid Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation keeps reminding us – we're at the movies, it is supposed to be exciting. Plausibility is of no consequence.

Director Christopher McQuarrie (Jack Reacher) has decided the only way forward for the unflagging spy franchise is the direct pleasures of old fashioned genre entertainment. Resisting the trend for narrative sprawl, and the bad habits of former Mission outings, this is a thriller that aspires only to be a great thriller. Set up the dilemma, introduce the characters and watch them try to figure it out. No need for back stories, real world relevance or, worse still, irony.

Indeed, if there is a sure signal that McQuarrie knows exactly what he is doing, it is the iconic theme tune. No Limp Bizkit remix here, just Lalo Schifrin's shimmering 1960s vibe like a burst of electricity. This, ladies and gentleman, is a Mission: Impossible movie.

Which decodes as being really complicated in simple ways (or vice versa). The plot rests on the scaffolding of three distinct acts, each one an intricately coordinated set piece located in a city centre, all escalating into furies of high anxiety and real world stunt work. Storytelling that is preposterous (a badge of honour for the IMF series) but never incoherent.

The first act is magnificent. Set at the Vienna State Opera, with Nessun Dorma from Puccini's Turandot in full swing, three separate hitmen (and woman), plus Ethan, plus Benji, slink about backstage (and through much of the set and rigging) to either carry out or prevent the assassination of the Austrian Chancellor. But rather than the usual blizzard of action, the sequence is beautifully paced to build tension, gradually accumulating increasingly perilous elements and quickening the pace.

As one of the Syndicate's killers readies to shoot on a specific high note, so McQuarrie's camera races along the sheet music as the crescendo approaches, intercutting with Ethan dangling three storeys up from the rafters. Alfred Hitchcock, if he still had a heartbeat, would no doubt applaud.

So where to next? The breathless sequence ends with Cruise plucking intel from a discarded lipstick, turning to camera, and with his signature grin on full beam announces, "Morocco!". Meanwhile, back in Washington DC, Jeremy Renner's returning Brandt is busy trading sour witticisms with Baldwin's Langley director, intent on bringing Ethan to book. And McQuarrie is not one to let casting Baldwin go by without an overblown speech – "Ethan Hunt is the manifestation of destiny..."

Cut to: Morocco. The second act moves into the more familiar, high tech and car chase territory, as the team, plus Ilsa, attempt to steal the aforementioned 'red box' data via a vault so secure it is submerged in water and guarded by metal detectors to prevent the use of oxygen tanks. So Ethan, and the audience, are required to hold their breath for three heart stopping minutes...

As with Charlize Theron in George Miller's Mad Max: Fury Road, Ferguson plays co-lead with Cruise's franchise hero. Again, McQuarrie grasps what drives thrillers – the engine of mystery. Isla is classic femme fatale, a puzzle at the heart of the film who impels us between the otherwise thinly connected acts. She is a genuine match for Cruise, with a terrifying knack for springing to an assailant's shoulders and strangling them with her crotch. And Cruise himself still does befuddled, determined and death defying like no-one else.

The final act, set in London, may not quite match the dash or wit of what has come before, but still gathers at least two prize twists, Syndicate worm Sean Harris' (Prometheus) statutory megalomania and Tom Hollander (About Time) as the Prime Minister (only he can access the 'red box' data) for some classic British espionage intrigue to get us satisfyingly over the finish line. That is just it – the story is finished. Nothing, well almost nothing, is left hanging. Mission: Impossible Six can be whatever it wants to be. One recommendation, though – get McQuarrie back as writer at least. He makes the impossible look easy.

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation is easily, almost nonchalantly, the best of the franchise, dispensing with the dead weight of realism or relevance for state of the art thrill making in a classical mould. The series has finally found its voice.

New look at embassy siege thriller 6 Days arrives online

On 5 May 1980 an SAS squad abseiled down the side of the Iranian Embassy in London's Princes Gate to rescue the 26 hostages trapped inside. New action thriller 6 Days tells the full story behind the raid and the nerve knotting days leading up to it. These three new stills give a flavour of what to expect.

Although character details are still under wraps, Jamie Bell (The Adventures Of Tintin) certainly looks to be leading the special forces team, with Mark Strong (Kingsman: The Secret Service) on hand to help out in a hostage negotiation capacity.

Shot partly in New Zealand and now underway near the notorious incident's actual epicentre, 6 Days is the latest from Kiwi director Toa Fraser (The Dead Lands). He has teamed up again with his Dead Lands (2014) writer Glenn Standring, with several former SAS members helping bring realism to an event that was witnessed across the globe and whose exteriors, at least, were famously captured on film.

Producer Matthew Metcalfe (The Dead Lands) promises "a tense action/thriller that will tell the story of one of the most audacious and incredible special forces raids of all time". Rounding out the leading cast are Abbie Cornish (Limitless) and Martin Shaw (Inspector George Gently).

Will Smith set to take over for Collateral Beauty

As recently reported, there has been a change at the top of Alfonso Gomez-Rejon's (Me And Earl And The Dying Girl) Collateral Beauty, with Hugh Jackman (The Wolverine) forced to drop out due to a diary clash with the next Wolverine outing. There was some talk of Johnny Depp (Alice In Wonderland) being sought to step in, but apparently that went nowhere, because word arrives via Deadline that Will Smith (I Am Legend) has picked up the baton, co-starring alongside Rooney Mara (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo).

Allan Loeb (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps) wrote the screenplay, which revolves around a New York advertising agency, and a man – presumably now Smith – struggling with depression after a tragedy that turns his world upside down. His colleagues devise a hugely unconventional plan to break him out of it, but they don't count on what happens.

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 (2011) are probably a more relevant touchstone here...

Smith, meanwhile, has Peter Landesman's (Parkland) NFL sports injury drama Concussion due out in the US on Christmas Day before it jets over here for 22 January. There is also the small matter of David Ayer's (Fury) Warners Bros/DC Entertainment comic book outing Suicide Squad, currently set for a 5 August 2016 release.

Frank Grillo set for The Purge 3

He took over from Ethan Hawke as the main character in the Purge films with the second, The Purge: Anarchy (2014). And now news arrives via Variety that Frank Grillo is ready to make it a double, entering final negotiations to star in The Purge 3.

Writer/director James DeMonaco is also back again for the third time, spinning another violent yarn about the alternate near future America which has one day each year when all crime is legalised for a 12-hour period, as written into the constitution by the government. In The Purge: Anarchy, Grillo's Sergeant was a man on a mission of revenge who ended up helping to protect a group of innocents who are stuck without shelter in Los Angeles as the annual event kicks off.

DeMonaco has yet to outline what the new movie will cover, though Grillo's return means more tough guy behaviour from Sergeant. If the actor himself turns out to be correct, a further expansion of Michael K. Williams' character, Carmelo Johns, is also in the works. The film is targeting a 1 July 2016 release in the US, with Blumhouse Productions and Universal Pictures once again keeping the budget thrifty in the hopes of high returns.

According to Variety, there had been some concern that scheduling clashes with Grillo's work on TV series Kingdom could prevent his return, but the dates have now been worked out and he will report to the Purge set next month. The actor will also be seen in Beyond Skyline, A Conspiracy On Jekyll Island, horror outing Stephanie and in Joe and Anthony Russo's Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) follow-up Captain America: Civil War, which sees him finally becoming Crossbones after the events in The Winter Soldier. The Marvel movie will be out here on 29 April next year.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Ali Larter set to returns for Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

While we still don't know whether the current title Resident Evil: The Final Chapter will stick (the team might still want to leave the door open to possible future entries), some things are locked in place for the sixth film, including a returning Milla Jovovich and writer/director Paul W.S. Anderson. Now news arrives via Deadline that Ali Larter is also set to return as Claire Redfield.

Larter, a veteran of Resident Evil: Extinction (2007) and Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010) – and glimpsed in archive footage Resident Evil: Retribution (2012) – is confirmed as returning, though quite what Claire will be up to is anyone's guess that this point. The new film picks up the story following the end of Resident Evil: Retribution, which ended with Jovovich's Alice and some of the rag-tag human survivors joining the Umbrella army in defending the White House against a huge tide of the Red Queen's zombie creatures. So there will be the usual carnage, but perhaps also some closure for our central heroine.

The film has had to wait as Jovovich and husband Anderson became parents for the second time in April, meaning that the shoot is now scheduled for September in South Africa, with a US release date set for roughly a year after that. Larter has also recently worked on horror outing The Diabolical, scheduled for an 16 October release across the pond but with no sign of it reaching these shores as yet.

Billy Crudup set for 1970s drama 20th Century Women

There are many great names attached to Mike Mills (Thumbsucker) 1970s drama 20th Century Women, which already boasts Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right), Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha) and Elle Fanning (Maleficent). But now comes news that Billy Crudup (Watchmen) is is set to join.

Other names to impress include Megan Ellison's Annapurna Pictures, the production company behind the project, who you may recognise from their work on the likes of Her (2013), American Hustle (2013) and Foxcatcher (2014), but Crudup is clearly key as he will be playing the central role.

As the boarder living in the bungalow outside single mother Dorothea's (Bening) home, he is the former hippy handyman that attracts the attention of not only Bening, but also Fanning and Gerwig. It's 1979, and California's ever changing seaside town of Santa Barbara is a complicated place to grow up in for Dorothea's teenage son, whose world is changed forever by the arrival of Crudup's character.

"The film is an ode to the women who raised me; my mom, my sisters, the girls I was in love with or looked up to at school and in the punk rock scene where I really learned about the world," Mills told Variety.

Gerwig portrays a young photographer who has submersed herself in the local punk culture, while Fanning will play a "provocative" friend of the son. All will be seen on screen once 20th Century Women's as yet unannounced release date comes round in 2016.

Warner Bros set to play Dungeons & Dragons

News arrived via The Hollywood Reporter that Warner Bros have worked out a deal with rights holders Hasbro and producer Courtney Solomon's Sweetpea Entertainment to partner on a new film based on the long running game world.

And if ever there was a subject actually crying out for a new cinematic adaptation, it was Dungeons & Dragons, which suffered through Solomon's less than magical effort back in 2000 with two straight to SyFy Channel sequels after that.

A few years ago, Warner Bros decided to go ahead and try to conjure up their own take, working with Wrath Of The Titans (2012) writer David Leslie Johnson's script Chainmail – itself based on a more obscure game crafted by Dungeons & Dragons designer Gary Gygax – and having him re-work it to focus on the ideas from the main title before it had locked down rights from Hasbro.

That company instead chose to push ahead on a film deal with Universal Pictures, and Warner Bros began talking to Solomon and Sweetpea about using their rights instead. Hasbro objected, claiming Sweetpea's rights had reverted to it, and thus began the battle. Now, the studio and the toy giant have apparently made a deal that allows it to go ahead, though no-one has heard what Universal Pictures thinks about the idea.

Still, they appears confident they can finally proceed. "We are so excited about bringing the world of Dungeons & Dragons to life on the big screen," Greg Silverman, Warner Bros president of creative development and worldwide production said in a statement. "This is far and away the most well-known brand in fantasy, which is the genre that drives the most passionate film followings. D&D has endless creative possibilities, giving our filmmakers immense opportunities to delight and thrill both fans and moviegoers new to the property."

As always, watch this space.

Ronda Rousey set to star in her own biopic

You could argue that at 28, UFC champion and actress Ronda Rousey (The Expendables 3) is a bit young to be writing her autobiography, let alone locking in a deal to star in the film based on the book. But she has led such an interesting life so far that you can see why Paramount Pictures might be keen to buy the rights.

The studio has Mark Bomback (Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes) adapting the book My Fight/Your Fight, which Rousey wrote with her older sister Maria Burns Ortiz. It takes a hard stare at the many challenges – a tough birth, communication issues when young, struggling to make her way in the brutal and often sexist world of Ultimate Fighting – that she has overcome in her life and career, on her way to combining a dominant run in the UFC Octagon with an embryonic film career.

Nothing is yet known about what form the film will take, but it will roughly follow Rousey's life up to recent accomplishments, which includes appearances in Entourage and Fast & Furious 7, plus knocking out UFC opponent Bethe Correia in 34 seconds earlier this month in Brazil.

The project is still developing, and will have to wait for Rousey to be available again – she will work with Bomback on the script for the adaptation before training for a potential next bout and is also scheduled to co-star in Peter Berg's (Lone Survivor) next action thriller, Mile 22, which will kick off production in January.

Lionsgate developing live action Naruto

Western, English language, live action adaptations of Japanese manga haven't so far fared terribly well on the big screen. Films like Fist Of The North Star (1995) and Dragonball: Evolution (2009) are probably best forgotten, while Akira (1988) can't catch a break, talk of a Shane Black (Iron Man 3) adaption of Death Note (2006) went nowhere until Adam Wingard (V/H/S) picked it up recently, and we haven't even heard much about DreamWorks Studios' Ghost In The Shell (1995) lately. Nevertheless, news arrives via Variety that the vast Naruto franchise is the latest to enter American development, with Lionsgate negotiating for the film rights, and former visual effects man Michael Gracey in the frame to direct.

First published in 1997, Masashi Kishimoto's Naruto currently stretches to 72 volumes of manga and 220 anime episodes. Not including spin-offs like the ten anime movies. The manga has more than 200 million copies in print, and is the third best selling in history, after One Piece and Dragon Ball.

Obviously the story is far too vast to summarise quickly, but the basic premise revolves around the adolescent Naruto Uzumaki, who dreams of becoming his community's leader and ninja protector.

Avi and Ari Arad (The Amazing Spider-Man) are producing through their Arad Productions banner, with Erik Feig (Mr. & Mrs. Smith), Geoff Shaevitz (Escape Plan) and Kelly O'Malley (Whiplash) overseeing for Lionsgate. Gracey has yet to make his directorial debut, but has been attached to Daughter Of Smoke And Bone and the Jim Henson biopic The Muppet Man.

Very early days yet, and as we said, live action manga has, to date, not had a strong track record in Hollywood. As always, watch this space.

"Human beings simply aren't built to function at the cruising altitude of a 747."

Universal Pictures have recently released their IMAX trailer and one sheet for Baltasar Kormákur's (2 Guns) Everest.

Essentially a disaster movie played out at 35,000 feet, this latest promo for Everest showcases the National Geographic snowscape cinematography, lending a sense of nature's awe to the derring-do of a small team trying to scale Earth's highest summit. Then things go wrong. Very wrong...

Far from keeping its powder dry, Universal Pictures latest trailer plunges us straight into to the freezing chaos of a fateful summit climb. The story is loosely inspired by real events – the 1996 disaster recounted in Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air – and sees Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty) leading a party of climbers up the Nepalese monolith as Kiwi mountaineer Rob Hall. Alongside him on the slopes are Josh Brolin (Gangster Squad) as Doctor Beck Weathers, John Hawkes (Lincoln) as Doug Hansen and Jake Gyllenhaal (Prisoners) as Scott Fischer, the leader of a separate expedition.

Things are progressing nicely, with most of the climbers reaching the summit, when warnings of dangerous weather conditions begin to come to fruition. Swiftly, it becomes a battle for survival.

The screenplay is penned by Mark Medoff (Children Of A Lesser God) and Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire), with director Baltasar Kormákur overseeing a shoot that took in the Italian Alps, Cinecittà and Pinewood Studios. Robin Wright (House Of Cards), Michael Kelly (The Changeling), Sam Worthington (Avatar), Keira Knightley (Anna Karenina) and Emily Watson (War Horse) round out the cast.

Everest arrives in 3D and on IMAX from 24 September 2015.

Colin Farrell set for Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them

Currently on our TV screens as a troubled and conflicted cop in True Detective, Colin Farrell is looking for something a little more magical for a future project. News arrives via The Hollywood Reporter that he has joined the cast of Warner Bros' Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them.

Harry Potter veteran director David Yates is launching what Warner Bros already plans as a new trilogy, adapted by J.K. Rowling herself from her book Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them.

Eddie Redmayne (The Theory Of Everything) is starring as Newt Scamander, who plies his trade as a magizoologist around the world. On a trip to New York, he meets several characters, including a wizard named Graves, played by Farrell. The story takes place roughly 70 years before Harry and the rest have their tangle with the dark forces of Voldemort.

Fantastic Beasts' cast already includes Katherine Waterston (Inherent Vice), Ezra Miller (The Perks Of Being A Wallflower), Dan Fogler (Fanboys) and Alison Sudol (What To Expect When You're Expecting), with Yates filling the various other roles ready for shooting later this year and early next ahead of a 18 November 2016 release.

Farrell will also be seen in psychic thriller Solace, which arrives on 25 September. He is also part of the cast for Yorgos Lanthimos' The Lobster, which scored positive reviews at this years Cannes Film Festival and lands in the UK on 16 October.

"I'm touching myself tonight!"

20th Century Fox have just released their first red band trailer and one sheet for Tim Miller's debut feature Deadpool.

It may have made its first appearance online thanks to some shady uploaders following its San Diego Comic Con debut, but here comes the first official trailer for Deadpool, which features all the violence, f-bombs and NSFW nonsense you could want from the Merc With A Mouth.

Effects man/second unit director Tim Miller is calling the shots for this one, working from a script by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (Zombieland). Deadpool, as some of you may already know, features former Special Forces warrior turned mercenary Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), who undergoes a rogue experiment as part of the Weapon X plan that leaves him brutally scarred but also boasting Wolverine like healing powers. Armed with his new abilities and his pitch-dark sense of humour, he hunts down the man who nearly destroyed his life, while taking on other bad guys as he does so.

With Ed Skrein (Ill Manors), T.J. Miller (Transformers: Age Of Extinction), Gina Carano (Fast & Furious 6) and Morena Baccarin (Homeland) among the cast, Deadpool will wisecrack his way into UK cinemas on 4 February next year.

First trailer and one sheet for Roland Emmerich's Stonewall arrives online

Roadside Attractions have just released their first trailer and one sheet for Roland Emmerich's (The Day After Tomorrow) gay rights drama Stonewall.

Usually found bringing alien invasions, apocalyptic storm systems and civilisation destroying earthquakes to the big screen, Roland Emmerich does occasionally make room for passion projects, and Stonewall certainly counts.

Stonewall uses the fictional figure of Danny (Jeremy Irvine) to tell the very real story of the Stonewall Inn and the role it played in helping to kick off the battle for gay rights in 1960s New York. Danny is kicked out of his small town home by his parents, leaving behind younger sister Phoebe (Joey King). Homeless and penniless, he makes friends with a group of street kids who introduce him to the Stonewall Inn, a hangout for the local lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. There, Danny catches the eye of the suave Trevor (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) and also attracts interest from the bar's manager, Ed Murphy (Ron Perlman).

Ed is a shady type who colludes with corrupt cops, exploits the homeless like Danny and is even suspected of having some of them vanish from the streets, never to be seen again. When the police unexpectedly raid the inn, events spiral out of control and a movement for equality is born from the chaos.

This one will be watched closely for its treatment of the events, but with playwright and screenwriter Jon Robin Baitz (Brothers & Sisters) behind the script, hopefully Emmerich has learned the lessons of Anonymous (2011), which played fast and loose with history. Stonewall will arrive in US cinemas on 25 September after a premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier in the month. There is no sign of a UK release date as yet.

"We were taking on the idiocy of our generation..."

Magnolia Pictures have just released their first trailer for Douglas Tirola's (Hey Bartender) National Lampoon documentary Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story Of The National Lampoon.

The latest version of Vacation is failing to make an impression with audiences and critics alike. So if you're feeling nostalgic for a bit of vintage National Lampoon, then you're probably better advised to turn your attention to the documentary Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story Of The National Lampoon.

The original satirical/surrealist/scatological/stoned National Lampoon magazine began publishing in 1970, hitting a heyday in the late '70s and early '80s during which its rule breaking humour spilled out into radio, TV and film. But as the documentary discusses, that was also the start of its downfall, with much of its talent pool following the money elsewhere. It finally drew its last breath in 1998.

Gathered together by director Douglas Tirola to read its final rites is an impressive cast of Lampoon alumni, including Chevy Chase (National Lampoon's Vacation), Beverly D'Angelo (National Lampoon's Vacation), Christopher Guest (National Lampoon: Lemmings), John Landis (National Lampoon's Animal House), Bill Murray (The National Lampoon Radio Hour), Ivan Reitman (National Lampoon's Animal House), Kevin Bacon (National Lampoon's Animal House) and key magazine staff, with celebrity fans including Billy Bob Thornton (Jayne Mansfield's Car) and Judd Apatow (This Is 40).

Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead played at the Edinburgh Film Festival in June, and gets a theatrical release in the US on 25 September. For the rest of us, it looks as though iTunes will be the place to find it, from the same date.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

New trailer and one sheet for The Intern arrives online

Warner Bros have recently released their latest trailer and one sheet for Nancy Meyers' (The Holiday) The Intern.

The last time Anne Hathaway worked in fashion on screen, it was for The Devil Wears Prada (2006). This time around she is playing the boss, with Robert De Niro (Heat) as the newcomer hoping to make their mark on the office.

Nancy Meyers is behind the new comedy, which stars Hathaway as Jules Ostin, the founder of a fashion site who needs some new help around the office. Which is where 70-year-old widower Ben Whittaker (De Niro) comes in, a man that has found that retirement isn't all he might have hoped for, and has decided to get back in business. But the position of senior intern at Jules' web business doesn't immediately seem to be the perfect fit.

It will certainly fun to see the two Academy Award® winners sparking off each other, and there is a solid cast around them that includes Rene Russo (The Thomas Crown Affair), Andrew Rannells (Bachelorette), Adam DeVine (Pitch Perfect), Nat Wolff (The Fault In Our Stars), Anders Holm (The Interview) and Reid Scott (My Boys).

The Intern will be out on 2 October.

First teaser trailer for Zealander 2 arrives online

Paramount Pictures have recently released their first teaser trailer for Ben Stiller's Zoolander (2001) sequel Zoolander 2.

Dust off your Le Tigre because Derek Zoolander is making a comeback, once again directed by and starring Ben Stiller as the cerebrally challenged male model. While there are no potential plot details in this first teaser trailer, you do hear someone who sounds remarkably like Stephen Hawking putting the catwalk king into a cosmic context.

Of course, it has been a few years since Derek Zoolander was busy foiling Mugatu's foul schemes, dominating the fashion scene and advertising Aveda ("the essence of wetness") as a merman. Times have changed, his stock has fallen but he is no less lacking in blinding self-awareness. Or dim. "Two Hundred Lander?" he gasps of the trailer's 2oolander logo. "No, Derek, it's just a pun," replies the Hawking soundalike.

Zoolander 2 is set roughly 14 years after the original, and finds Derek and best pal Hansel (Owen Wilson) trying to deal with a world that has seemingly moved on past them. Their lives have changed – not always for the better – and they are not best pleased.

Stiller is once again directing, working from a script by Justin Theroux (Tropic Thunder). The film has been shooting in Rome and features the return of Wilson, alongside Zealander veterans Christine Taylor and Will Ferrell as Mugatu, while also introducing new characters played by Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids) and Penélope Cruz (Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides), with Cyrus Arnold as Derek Junior.

Zoolander 2 is set for release 12 February 2016 release.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

"The world sure seems different from down here, doesn't it, Scott?"

In a rare example of honesty in advertising, the most recent collected edition of Ant-Man comics opens with, "Scott Lang has never exactly been the world's best super hero. Heck, most people don't even think he's been the best Ant-Man!" In their ongoing attempt to populate a cinematic universe with iterations of the characters they wholly own, Marvel has understandably foregrounded heroes of stature and iconic crossover appeal – Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, Captain America, Daredevil. But it has always been a strength of the shared universe largely created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee (and, in this case, Larry Lieber) that it is populated not only by titans who can be teamed up in something called the All-Winners Squad but by a range of lesser, flawed, not always admirable, important or even successful characters.

When it was announced that Edgar Wright (The World's End) was developing an Ant-Man movie for Marvel, most fans assumed it wouldn't be about Scott Lang – a divorced ex-con trying to maintain a relationship with his daughter, created by John Byrne and David Michelinie in 1979 – but Marvel's original Ant-Man, Hank Pym, a Jack Kirby and Stan Lee founding Avenger whose big plotline (he created Ultron) was reassigned to the higher profile Tony Stark in Avengers: Age Of Ultron. This is arguably typical of the Ant-Man character. Maybe it is the downtrodden, easy to underestimate mighty mite quality that has made various iterations of the character – although no-one likes to talk about the Irredeemable Ant-Man – work for 50 years, despite almost never having a comic title to call their own. Having set out their big guns in its first phase, Marvel shook things up with Guardians Of The Galaxy (2014), extending its cinematic superhero universe into roguish space opera territory and highlighting second string characters. Coming off Avengers: Age Of Ultron, the dice gets thrown again in Ant-Man, in which perennial Scott Lang gets a decent introduction and the perennially overlooked Hank Pym finally gets some dignity.

After several years in pre-production, Wright departed the project – although both Wright and Joe Cornish get story and script credits, with another script draft by star Paul Rudd and his writing partner Adam McKay. Into the shot calling spotlight stepped Peyton Reed, best known for Bring It On (2000) but without a feature credit since Yes Man (2008) and another of the run of directors Marvel has been preferring over auteurs like Ang Lee (Hulk) or Sam Raimi (Spider-Man) in putting together their overarching film franchise. In the process, we may well have been robbed by a smarter, somewhat stranger Edgar Wright movie – which isn't to say that Reed's Ant-Man doesn't have its moments of ambition and inspiration, especially when exploring the brand of transcendental mysticism pioneered by The Incredible Shrinking Man (which inspired Kirby and Lee's Tales To Astonish story in the first place). The Marvel movie method is now proven, and seems to guarantee that individual films will deliver solid thrills with touches of emotional content. For example, look for the moment when Scott tells Pym's daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) why her father didn't put her in the shrinking suit. Also part of the package is self-deprecation (a nod to Marvel films ending with big objects falling from the sky), guest spots, backstory exposition and a post-credits teaser for what we can expect next.

The basic set-up finds Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) – another of Marvel's one use only arch-nemeses – close to replicating Pym's incredible shrinking particle for evil doing, prompting the wry, regretful Pym (Michael Douglas) to recruit Lang to steal back his technology. Superhero heist movies are certainly thin on the ground so this has a relatively fresh – if somewhat basic – plot, with Scott learning how to use his size changing powers (not to mention ant mind control) before heading into action to infiltrate the high security facility. It is odd, however, that Scott is saddled with three ethnic stereotype partners in crime who tend to make an already light-hearted film a little too broad. Rudd, like Chris Pratt in Guardians Of The Galaxy, is a solid and charming leading man who can pull off sillier moments where he is his own comic relief without the need for motormouth Michael Peña to boost the laughs.

Besides being a breezy superhero heist movie, Ant-Man is the latest in a succession of shrinking man movies which have shown off dizzying state of the art digital effects at the time of production – worthy successor to the likes of The Devil-Doll (1936), The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) and Honey, I Shrunk The Kids (1989). In brilliantly realised moments, Ant-Man clings to the grooves of a vinyl record, feeds a drop of water to his favourite ant, explores quantum realms and has a climactic confrontation with an equally miniaturised villain on an out of control Thomas The Tank Engine tabletop layout which seems huge and dangerous to them, though a witty shot pulls back to reveal the frenetic action movie fireworks simply boil down to a toy train falling over.

Ant-Man is as much a science fiction heist movie as it is a superhero comedy soap opera. Straddling as many genres as the Avengers films have characters, Marvel have delivered a fun, confident entry to their latest phase. Your move Captain America.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Channing Tatum officially cast as Gambit

While he has been "attached" for a while, Channing Tatum (White House Down) had yet to sign any deals tying him to the role of Gambit in 20th Century Fox's attempt to kick off a refreshed X-Men cinematic universe. You may have seen some scuttlebutt in the last week or so that suggested he wasn't going to be doing it after all, but all that is now been consigned to the gossip dustbin. News arrives via The Hollywood Reporter that Tatum has now closed his Gambit deal, meaning he will don the purple threads and wield playing cards for director Rupert Wyatt (Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes) as planned.

Tatum has been personally invested in Gambit for ages. "I've been pretty vocal about wanting to be the part of Gambit for a very long time," he told MTV a year ago. "It's a weird, pinching-myself moment that we're even having the conversation."

If there were kinks in the negotiations, they perhaps revolved around the extent of his commitment, and his fee for such. If 20th Century Fox are looking for a character to fill the gap left by Wolverine when Hugh Jackman retires from the role in 2017, Tatum could be staring down more than a decade playing Remy LeBeau.

There is also the question of where and how Gambit will fit into 20th Century Fox's renegade Marvel universe, after Tatum stood firm about not making a cameo in X-Men: Apocalypse ("No, I definitely will not," he told Reddit).

"We've talked about Gambit being a standalone first," said Tatum, again last summer, "and actually trying to change the 'hero' superhero movie. Because Gambit is not your typical hero. He's a thief. He walks on the grey. I'm hoping we can change it a little bit, and then ultimately feather into the other [X-Men movies]."

For those not already in the know, Marvel's official wiki site describes the ragin' Cajun as a mutant with the power to... well, it's complicated.

"Gambit has the mutant ability to tap into the potential energy contained within an object and transform it into kinetic energy upon touching it," runs the wiki. "When Gambit thus charges an object and throws it at a target, the object releases this energy explosively on impact. Gambit is unable to use this power to charge living objects."

This will certainly explain all those pink cards he flings at his foes. What it doesn't explain is Taylor Kitsch's disappointing turn as the character in the equally disappointing X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009).

Gambit, which has a screenplay by Josh Zetumer (RoboCop), currently has a UK release date of 7 October next year. Which certainly seems like a tight schedule. X-Men: Apocalypse – definitely minus Gambit – will be out on 18 May. 

First trailer for The Little Prince arrives online

Onyx Films have just released their first trailer for Mark Osborne's (Kung Fu Panda) The Little Prince.

First published in 1943, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's much loved children's tale Le Petit Prince has been adapted several times, including a live action version in 1974 and a recent French TV cartoon series.

Directed by Kung Fu Panda's (2008) Mark Osborne, the film boasts Jeff Bridges (True Grit), James Franco (127 Hours), Rachel McAdams (Midnight In Paris), Marion Cotillard (Rust And Bone), Benicio Del Toro (Savages), Mackenzie Foy (The Conjuring), Ricky Gervais (The Invention Of Lying), Albert Brooks (Drive) and Paul Giamatti (Sideways) leading the voice cast.

Saint-Exupéry's plot sees a pilot crashing in the Sahara desert and meeting a young boy who claims to be a prince fallen to Earth from an asteroid. The Prince regales the Pilot with tales of other asteroids, narrow-minded adults, a fox, a rose and more.

As you will see, the trailer reveals another layer to that narrative in Osborne's version, with the Pilot recounting his strange tale to an audience of one – a young girl with a high achieving mother. Note the different animation styles between the girl's strand and that of the Prince's.

Irena Brignull (The Boxtrolls) and Bob Persichetti (Puss In Boots) wrote the screenplay, and The Little Prince stems from the indie Onyx Films, taking on the corporate might of Pixar and Sony Pictures with seemingly considerable panache. The film rolls out in various territories between now and December, so expect it in the UK before the end of the year.

Daniel Radcliffe set for Imperium

In his time playing playing heroes and misfits, Daniel Radcliffe (Kill Your Darlings) hasn't had the chance to play someone in law enforcement. That is all about to change, with news arriving via Deadline that he recently signed to play an FBI agent in Imperium.

While it arguably sounds like an epic space opera, the film is actually rooted in the real life story of Michael German, an FBI agent who spent years undercover in neo-Nazi and militia groups in the States. In the film, the character based on German will be similarly embedded, trying to stop a bunch of chaos happy white supremacists constructing a dirty bomb.

Daniel Ragussis, who has been making short films, is jumping to features with this thriller, which he co-wrote with German. All being well, the cameras should be rolling this autumn.

It is just the latest job for the ever busy Radcliffe, who is currently shooting surreal indie outing Swiss Army Man alongside Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood) and Mary Elizabeth Winstead (The Thing). He has Victor Frankenstein due out on 27 November, while Now You See Me: The Second Act follows on 10 June next year. And there is also Game Changer, about the legal battle over the violent and sexual content of the Grand Theft Auto game series, which will screen on BBC2 next year. 

Patrick Osborne set to direct Battling Boy

Reminding us that there are still independent comics out there in the shadow of the Marvel and DC juggernaut, news arrives via Variety that Paramount Pictures are preparing an adaptation of First Second Books' graphic novel Battling Boy, by Paul Pope. Patrick Osborne, an animator with credits on Tangled (2010), Wreck-It Ralph (2012) and Big Hero 6 (2014), will make his feature directing debut with the film.

Pope's book revolves around the son of a god (essentially Thor) who comes down from the top of a mountain (essentially Asgard) to endure a coming of age ritual and rid the city of Acropolis of its giant monster infestation. Sadly for the city, their usual hero Haggard West has just died. But Battling Boy is determined to prove himself...

Osborne directed the Academy Award® winning short film Feast, which played in cinemas before Big Hero 6, so has clearly been working towards a feature gig for some time. Paramount Pictures too have been developing Battling Boy since at least 2008, along with Brad Pitt's (Inglourious Basterds) Plan B Entertainment. It is unclear at this stage whether Pitt is involved in any other capacity. As always, watch this space.

Tom Cruise teases Edge Of Tomorrow sequel

Despite the glowing reviews Edge Of Tomorrow (2014) underwhelmed at the box office, making it a seemingly unlikely candidate for a sequel, even in these franchise happy times. Tom Cruise, however, is still chewing over ways and means of making it happen. Talking to MTV News at the premiere of Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, he hinted that the property may yet live again.

"I pitched it to [Christopher] McQuarrie and Doug [Liman]," he revealed of his idea for a sequel. "We were there one night and I was like, 'I've got an idea for it'."

McQuarrie, of course, is Cruise's screenwriter of choice and the man who adapted the Manga property All You Need Is Kill into a pulsing, pacy science fiction actioner in which Cruise and Emily Blunt tooled up to tackle a species of extra-terrestrial killing machines. Liman directed the movie and is reconnecting with his star for crime biopic Mena.

Should it come to pass, Cruise is keen to see his co-star return. "It could be so much fun. Gotta get Emily," he said. "I was like 'Emily, please'. She was like, 'Give me another year, please'."

Perhaps not so far-fetched, then. As always, watch this space.

Drew Pearce says other Ghostbusters is still in the works

If you have been following the saga of the Ghostbusters reboot, you will know that as well as the Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) incarnation, starring Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids), Melissa McCarthy (The Heat), Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live), there has also been talk of another Ghostbusters film as part of an expanded cinematic universe. Channing Tatum (White House Down) and Chris Pratt (Guardians Of The Galaxy) were both mentioned in connection with the project, although Tatum and Pratt have both said they are not doing it. Now, writer and producer Drew Pearce (Iron Man 3) has clarified what is going on, and has at least confirmed that the mooted Ghostbusters spin-off is still in the works.

"Obviously it's top secret," Pearce told MTV, "but there's a gigantic bold idea that I came up with." He continued that Pratt and Tatum are "definitely the cast we've been thinking about as we approach the project. Whether that happens or not is very much above my pay grade. It's just my job to give them something exciting that maybe they'll do." Which certainly suggests the film is being written with those guys in mind, but they remain far from attached.

Pearce has since taken to Twitter with a couple of further nuggets, saying that he has written a TV series style 'Bible' for the possible extended Ghostbusters franchise, but the script for this second film doesn't yet exist. Addressing the ridiculous internet controversy surrounding Feig's apparently horrifying cast of talented comedic actresses and Saturday Night Live veterans, he added, "For the record, my GB idea has a mixed gender team. Also ghosts of all classes (I to VII). It's very inclusive that way."

His "gigantic bold idea" is now in the hands of the Russo Brothers (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) and original Ghostbusters honcho Ivan Reitman, who will "take it and run with it. Hopefully in one year's time you'll know more."

In the meantime, says Pearce, "Chill your boots..."