Friday, 29 April 2016

First look at Wonder Woman movie

She stole the show in Zack Snyder's Man Of Steel (2013) follow-up Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice and now things are about to go stratospheric for Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman. Entertainment Weekly have recently released our first look at the Amazonian warrior princess, sans Superman and Batman, in her first standalone movie which Warner Bros and DC Entertainment have scheduled for  release next summer.

Director Patty Jenkins (Monster), once earmarked for Thor: The Dark World (2013), is getting her blockbuster career up and running with an origin tale charting the youthful Princess Diana's (Gal Gadot) emergence from a warrior race on the hidden isle of Themyscira to become the greatest fighter of them all.

Alongside her in this line up of Themyscira's finest warriors are her mother, Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), and her aunts, General Antiope (Robin Wright) and Antiope's adjutant Menalippe (Lisa Loven Kongsli). There is tension in these ranks, however.

"She is the only child they raised together," says Jenkins of Hippolyta and Antiope. "And their love for her manifests in a different way for each of them." One wants her to live a sheltered life, the other to plunge her into the maelstrom of combat.

You will note the different battle attire on display. The Dark Knight's (2008) costume designer Lindy Hemming certainly hasn't shied away from the high heels and basques worn by the comic book characters. "I, as a woman, want Wonder Woman to be hot as hell, fight badass, and look great at the same time," explains Jenkins, "the same way men want Superman to have huge pecs and an impractically big body."

Wonder Woman is set for release in the States on 23 June 2017, but doesn't have a UK release date scheduled as yet.

Conjuring spin-off sequel Annabelle 2 finds a director

First there was The Conjuring (2013), followed by spin-off Annabelle (2014). Next comes The Conjuring 2, and after that there will be Annabelle 2, which has just landed its director. News arrives via Variety that David F. Sandberg (Lights Out) will be calling the shots on the further adventures of the evil doll.

The first Annabelle was a prequel of sorts to James Wan's The Conjuring, which featured the doll in opening scenes largely unconnected to the rest of the film. Annabelle was an origin story detailing how the spirit of a satanic cultist ended up in the already freakish toy, which by the end of The Conjuring is safely in a glass case in the archive of paranormal investigators Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga).

There are no details for the sequel so far, but we might perhaps guess at another story of people who think Annabelle could be right for their home despite her off-putting smirk and haunted eyes, only to discover that that was a terrible idea.
The first Annabelle, directed by John R. Leonetti, earned more than $245 million worldwide on an estimated budget of $6.5 million, so everyone involved will be hoping for similar levels of audience enthusiasm. Gary Dauberman, who provided the script for that one is back on duty here.

Wan's The Conjuring 2, concerning itself with the Enfield Poltergeist will terrorise cinemas on 17 June. Sandberg's horror Lights Out, adapted and expanded from his own short film (see below) and with Wan among the producers, is out in the UK on 19 August.

Michael Stuhlbarg joins Guillermo del Toro's latest

With the talented likes of Octavia Spencer (The Help) and Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine) already in negotiations to join the cast, Guillermo del Toro has another great performer lined up to potentially star in his latest, currently untitled new film. News arrives via The Hollywood Reporter that Michael Stuhlbarg (A Serious Man) is now in talks to join.

Exactly what the final movie will be about is still a classified secret, but while the trade papers have been describing it as a magical love story set against the backdrop of Cold War America, del Toro himself has taken to Twitter to cast doubt on at least one element.

So maybe the time period is a little off in the reports? Or perhaps the script, which the director himself has written and will produce for Fox Searchlight, has been evolving since the various sources got their information. Either way, it certainly appears we are in for another creature feature from the man who made Pan's Labyrinth (2006) and Pacific Rim (2013). As for what Stuhlbarg will do in the film? Your guess is as good as ours right now.

Stuhlbarg is currently on our screens in Miles Ahead and will next appear in Scott Derrickson's (Sinister) Doctor Strange, which is set to arrive in the UK on 28 October.

Lily Collins joins Jake Gyllenhaal in Okja

After the misjudged release treatment of his last film, the brilliant Snowpiercer (2013), Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho deserves some luck. He has Netflix and Brad Pitt (Inglourious Basterds) backing his latest, creature feature Okja and is building the cast. Now news arrives via The Wrap Lily Collins (The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones) has joined the likes of Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler), Tilda Swinton (Only Lovers Left Alive) and Kelly Macdonald (No Country For Old Men) in the ranks.

Exact plot details on the film are still under wraps, but Bong has described the central beast as "a bulky animal, but with a mild and kind spirit. The film is about a warm friendship between a country girl and a brute with stories. To me, the crazy world surrounding Okja and the girl looks more like a monster. I want to depict the two characters' bizarre journey and adventure across the tough world in an original fashion."

Collins is apparently set to be an anarchist named Red, a high ranking member of the Animal Liberation Front. The film has already lost Bill Nighy (About Time), who reportedly had to drop out thanks to schedule clashes and Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood) is still checking his diary to see whether he can make the dates work.

This marks the second project Collins has joined in two days – she is also on board to star in Marti Noxon's directorial debut, a dark comedy about anorexia called To The Bone.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Michael Ealy set to star in Jacob's Ladder remake

There has been a change at the top recently on the developing remake of Adrian Lyne's Jacob's Ladder (1990). David M. Rosenthal (A Single Shot) is now set to direct, replacing James Foley (Perfect Stranger), who has since moved on to both Fifty Shades sequels. And with Rosenthal comes news via Variety that Michael Ealy is set to take the lead. Director and star worked together last year on the thriller The Perfect Guy.

This Jacob's Ladder remains a strange proposition, since it doesn't actually seem to be a remake at all. Rather than retelling the psychologically troubling tale of a Vietnam vet (played in the Lyne film by Tim Robbins) who tries to figure out his past even as he is haunted by increasingly strange hallucinations, this take will apparently focus on new situations and characters, but maintain the existential themes. Variety calls it "a modern day paranoid action thriller about two brothers".

The screenplay has been through the hands of both Jeff Buhler (The Midnight Meat Train) and Sarah Thorp (The Bounty Hunter). Will Packer (Straight Outta Compton) is among the producers. There is no start or release date as yet.

Carey Mulligan and Garrett Hedlund set for indie drama Mudbound

Following up last year's Emmy Award winning HBO Bessie Smith biopic Bessie, director Dee Rees is now turning her attention to adapting Hillary Jordan's 2008 novel Mudbound. And she is pulling together a decent ensemble cast, with news arriving via Variety that Carey Mulligan (Never Let Me Go), Garrett Hedlund (TRON: Legacy), Jason Mitchell (Contraband) and Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty) are all set to step in front of her cameras.

Both the novel and film are set in rural Mississippi shortly after World War II. City folk Henry and Laura McAllan start a new life on a cotton farm in 1946, where Laura feels far from at home, struggling to raise two young children in an isolated shack under the eye of her racist father-in-law. When it rains, the waters rise up and swallow the bridge to town, stranding the family in a sea of mud.

As the war comes to an end, two young men return from Europe to help work the farm. Jamie McAllan is everything his older brother Henry is not and is sensitive to Laura's plight, but also haunted by his memories of combat. Ronsel Jackson, meanwhile, eldest son of the black sharecroppers who live on the farm, comes home from war a hero, only to face far more dangerous battles against the ingrained bigotry of his own countrymen. These two unlikely friends become players in a tragedy.

Mulligan is surely set to play Laura, with Hedlund and Clarke the McAllan brothers, and Mitchell set to play Ronsel.

Virgil Williams (Criminal Minds) wrote the original screenplay, which has since been overhauled by Rees. There is no start date yet, pending the "package" finding some distribution deals.

Jordan's novel, meanwhile, is published in the UK by Windmill.

Margot Robbie set to play controversial skater Tonya Harding in I, Tonya

The incident may have happened over 20 years ago, but the saga of competitive ice skaters Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan still stands as one of the most memorable sporting scandals in modern history. Now news arrives via Deadline that Margot Robbie (The Wolf Of Wall Street) wants to bring Harding's side of the story to the screen in I, Tonya.

Harding was originally seen as a plucky underdog who rose from a rough, poverty-stricken childhood in Portland to become one of the top figure skaters in the United states. She became the first woman to complete the triple axel jump in big competitions and emerged victorious at the 1991 US Figure Skating Championships, going on to place second at the World Championships.

Then came the run up to the 1994 Winter Olympics, where Harding conspired with her then husband Jeff Gillooly to attack rival Nancy Kerrigan during qualifying rounds at the US Figure Skating Championships in Detroit, part of the selection process for the American Olympic team. Gillooly and co-conspirators Shawn Eckardt and Shane Stant figured out a plan of attack and Stant clubbed Kerrigan in the right knee, looking to break her leg. But she ended up merely bruised and part of the incident was captured on camera. Despite what would become known as The Whack Heard Round The World, Kerrigan still won a place on the Olympic team. She ended up with a silver medal and Harding, consumed by the scandal, placed eighth. She was eventually banned for life.

Steven Rogers (P.S I Love You) has done the research for this one, talking with both Harding and Gillooly, and wrote the script that Robbie is now using. She is currently on the hunt for a director and is planning to produce and star as Harding.

Robbie can currently be seen opposite Tina Fey (Date Night) in war correspondent comedy Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, and plays Harley Quinn in David Ayer's (Fury) Suicide Squad, out on 5 August.

Ava DuVernay co-writing and directing The Battle Of Versailles

She may already have two big projects on the go with A Wrinkle In Time and Intelligent Life, but Selma (2014) director Ava DuVernay is still finding time for other movies. News arrives via Deadline that she is also developing The Battle Of Versailles.

Despite the title, this is not a war film in the traditional sense, but it will chronicle the real life fight for respect by American fashion designers. The film follows the 1973 fashion show at the Palace of Versailles, a fundraiser to help pay for the restoration of the building. The cream of French designers working at the time (Yves Saint Laurent, Hubert de Givenchy, Pierre Cardin, Emanuel Ungaro and Christian Dior's Marc Bohan) went up against five American designers who, though they were unknowns at the time, went on to become world famous (Oscar de la Renta, Bill Blass, Halston, Stephen Burrows and Anne Klein, who brought along her then assistant Donna Karan).

Despite the French designers kicking off with a lavish, two house extravaganza backed by a classical orchestra, the US group won the day with a 35-minute show that broke colour barriers and used an Al Green soundtrack.

DuVernay is working with Michael Starrbury (The Inevitable Defeat Of Mister And Pete) on the script, with the director planning to make it for HBO Films when it's ready to go.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Matt Damon discusses Jason Bourne

Identity, Supremacy, Ultimatum, Legacy. There used to be a formula for Bourne titles – one which the fifth film in the franchise, Jason Bourne, has clearly ditched. We still don't know much about the the new Bourne's story, but Matt Damon (The Martian) has recently revealed some details about the film's title, which might give us a small clue as to the movie's angle.

"We talked about calling it The Bourne Something," Damon told Empire magazine, "but I think the idea was to separate this film from the others, because so much time has passed since we did one. Ours are really about identity, and the guy's search for identity, and at the end of the third one, he says 'I'm no longer Jason Bourne'. So without giving too much away, the new one starts with the implications of that: okay, then who is he? What is this identity that’s just sitting out there unclaimed? What does it mean? I think the title will make more sense when you see the movie, but it felt right because it felt pertinent to the story we were telling and also different from the others – in the right way. A decade has passed..."

Damon has previously let slip that Jason Bourne will reflect our financially risky times and is firmly set in a post-Edward Snowden world. Take that for what you will, but the last time we saw him, Bourne was doing some whistleblowing of his own, releasing the information about the illegal program codenamed Treadstone that created him and then going firmly off the grid.

Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips) once again directs, with Julia Stiles set to return as Nicky Parsons and Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina), Tommy Lee Jones (No Country For Old Men) and Vincent Cassell (Black Swan) aboard, the new Bourne will be with us on 29 July.

"Hey 'puter, I'm home!"

Warner Bros have recently released their first teaser trailer and one sheet for Chris McKay's (Robot Chicken) The Lego Batman Movie.

The latest live action incarnation of Batman may be taking a beating from both Superman and the critics at the moment, but the hero of The Lego Batman Movie is here to save the day. Or at least cook up a nice Lobster Thermidor for dinner.

Will Arnett is back on vocal duties for the self-obsessed Caped Crusader, and we get a taster of what his life is like beyond the idea of darkness and no parents. Turns out the Batcave is a vast, echoing chamber outfitted with all the gadgets he might want and a ready supply of red silk kimonos.

Don't expect to learn too much of the story here though – this is really just a re-introduction to this take on the hero with a few brief shots of him in action (including one where he is part of the Justice League). But we do know his lone wolf status will eventually be challenged by Robin (Michael Cera) and Batgirl (Rosario Dawson).

With Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel) as Alfred and Zach Galifianakis (Ther Hangover) as iconic Batman villain The Joker, The Lego Batman Movie will be out on 10 February next year.

Tour the Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 set with Chris Pratt

Writer/director James Gunn and his Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 cast are currently hard at work on the sequel and now, thanks to Star-Lord himself Chris Pratt, we get our first look behind the scenes

Despite Pratt's best efforts, we don't actually learn anything radically new about the film, but it is certainly interesting to look at what is going on. And Pratt makes for a typically chipper host, even when he is crashing golf carts around the movie's Pinewood Atlanta Studios backlot.

It is all part of a new charity effort by the seemingly ubiquitous company Omaze, which is offering bidders the chance to visit the set and potentially also appear in the movie itself, assuming that bit can't be chalked up to Pratt's other less than sensible opportunities including owning a door and riding a forklift truck over a jump.

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 2. reunites Pratt's Peter Quill with his fellow Guardians Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Groot (Vin Diesel) and Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper). The film will be out here on 28 April 2017.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

First trailer and one sheet for Deepwater Horizon arrives online

Lionsgate have recently released their first trailer and one sheet for Peter Berg's (Lone Survivor) Deepwater Horizon.

Mark Wahlberg (Lone Survivor) is certainly no stranger when it comes to real world stories of peril on the sea following The Perfect Storm (2000), and Deepwater Horizon represents another ocean set tale of heroism against incredible odds.

Peter Berg is in the director's chair for this one, which charts the events on the BP oil rig in the 48 hours leading up to the 2010 disaster and the day itself. The behind the scenes tale will highlight stories of real life heroism around the incident, which were not made public at the time but appeared in the script's source material, a New York Times article entitled Deepwater Horizon's Final Hour. The newspaper's piece chronicled how 11 people were killed and 16 injured when the rig blew, and gushed oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Matthew Michael Carnahan (World War Z) has adapted the screenplay for the film, which J.C. Chandor (All Is Lost) had originally signed to direct.

This first trailer is more of a tease, featuring Wahlberg's Mike Williams at home with his wife (Kate Hudson) and daughter Sydney (Stella Allen), helping the latter with her school project on him and his job. But he will face the biggest challenge of his life soon enough, as brief shots of the main story are revealed.

With Dylan O'Brien (The Maze Runner), Kurt Russell (Death Proof), John Malkovich (Burn After Reading) and Gina Rodriguez (Jane The Virgin) among the cast, Deepwater Horizon is set to arrive on our screens in September.

New trailer and one sheet for Nice Guys arrives online

Warner Bros have recently released their latest trailer and one sheet for Shane Black's (Iron Man 3) The Nice Guys.

Black certainly wasn't wrong when he described this film as "a caper. A little fast, a little funny and a little rough in places, kind of coarse..." as it is clearly all that and more. And it also feels like the Iron Man 3 (2013) director is back in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) territory, but with a harder edge.

Produced by Joel Silver (Sherlock Holmes), The Nice Guys is set in 1977, and sees Ryan Gosling (Drive) as down on his luck private eye Holland March, who crosses paths with hired muscle Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe). These unlikely allies must prowl the mean streets of Los Angeles to solve the case of a missing girl, which soon develops links to the death of a porn star. As they unravel the cases, they discover a massive conspiracy reaching the highest levels of power. As the duo digs into the case, they discover that turning over these Los Angeles rocks is not particularly conducive to good health...

Hard boiled (and knowingly silly) dialogue crackles through this one, which gives the impression that everyone involved had great time making it. Here's hoping that translates to the final film.

With Matt Bomer (In Time), Margaret Qualley (The Leftovers), Kim Basinger (L.A. Confidential) and Ty Simpkins (Jurassic World) also part of the cast, The Nice Guys will be staking out UK cinemas on 3 June.

"I think we are so much better off here in New York than Ecuador – we've got wine, snacks, not being shot at."

Netflix have recently released their first trailer and one sheet for Ricky Gervais' (Cemetery Junction) Special Correspondents.

Taking on acting, directing and writing duties – something he hasn't done since Cemetery Junction (2010) – this Netflix Original puts Gervais at the heart of the action. And by action we mean pretending to report from the front line when actually hiding above a Spanish restaurant in Queens.

A remake of French film Envoyés Très Spéciaux (2009), Gervais' Albert Finch plays sidekick to Eric Bana's (Lone Survivor) struggling radio journalist, Frank Bonneville. With Bonneville's career in turmoil, the pair take artistic license to the extreme by using a South American uprising to their vocational advantage whilst remaining safely in New York.

Naturally, they can't keep the ruse up for too long, and eventually end up having to head to Ecuador themselves. Which won't be an easy prospect, given the very real chance of death.

With Vera Farmiga (The Conjuring), Benjamin Bratt (Miss Congeniality), Kelly Macdonald (No Country For Old Men), America Ferrera (Ugly Betty) and Raúl Castillo (Cold Weather) also onboard for the chaos, Special Correspondents will hit Netflix this Friday.

"Are your ready Huntsman?"

Universal Pictures have just released their latest quad poster for Cedric Nicolas-Troyan's The Huntsman: Winter's War.

Chris Hemsworth is back for the film which is set years before Kristen Stewart's Snow White challenges the the Ravenna (Charlize Theron), and begins when Ravenna's sister Freya (Emily Blunt) flees the kingdom after suffering a heart breaking betrayal. The young ice queen, blessed with the ability to freeze any enemy, has spent decades in a remote, snowy palace, where she has been busy raising a legion of deadly huntsmen including Eric and Sara (Jessica Chastain), her top warriors. But despite her demand that her soldiers forswear love, the prime pair have been unable to deny their feelings. Angered, she returns to the kingdom (we can assume the film becomes a sequel at this point, given where the plot goes from here), raises her sister from the Magic Mirror's golden depths and together the sisters threaten the world with twice the dark magic.

The Huntsman: Winter's War features Snow White And The Huntsman (2012) veterans Sam Claflin and Nick Frost, alongside new arrivals Sheridan Smith (Hysteria), Colin Morgan (Legend), Sam Hazeldine (The Raven) and Sophie Cookson (Kingsman: The Secret Service), and is out in cinemas now.

New quad poster and trailer for Louder Than Bombs arrives online

Soda Pictures have recently released their latest trailer and quad poster for Joachim Trier's (Oslo, August 31st) Louder Than Bombs.

The film made its debut at last years Cannes Film Festival and now Joachim Trier's Louder Than Bombs is heading our way with a very presentable cast in tow. Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network), David Strathairn (The Bourne Ultimatum), Gabriel Byrne (In Treatment) and Isabelle Huppert (Amour) all feature in the film's latest trailer.

Set three years after her death, Huppert's war photographer, it turns out, had been the glue that had kept her family from spiralling into chaos and dysfunction. It is then that the family's oldest son, academic Jonah (Jesse Eisenberg), returns home to be with his dad (Gabriel Byrne) and younger brother, Conrad (Devin Druid). The picture is muddied by the fact that Jonah has just had a baby son, his father is struggling with his feelings and his brother is distant and strange.

It is also a coming of age piece for the younger sibling Conrad, played by Devin Druid (Olive Kitteridge). Early word from Cannes was of an eye catching performance from a young actor we will surely be seeing much more from in the future.

As Trier points out, Louder Than Bombs is about "neither war nor The Smiths". The title is borrowed from words coined by American poet Elizabeth Smart in her book By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept. "I loved that those words had a specifically American provenance as I worked on this film set in the US," says Trier.

Louder Than Bombs is out in the UK now.

Monday, 25 April 2016

David Koepp set to write Indiana Jones 5

When it was announced recently that Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford were indeed going to return to the Indiana Jones films for a fifth adventure, speculation began almost immediately as to who might write it? Now news arrives via The Hollywood Reporter that David Koepp has officially taken on script duty. 

Koepp is a Spielberg regular, and the man who wrote Jurassic Park (1993), The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) and War Of The Worlds (2005), among others. But collective eyebrows have been raised, however, because he was also the main writer behind Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull (2008), which was far less well received than its predecessors. And since then, Koepp has worked on the likes of Ghost Town (2008), Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014) and last year's much lambasted Mortedecai (2015).

Still, Spielberg and producers clearly believe he can deliver the goods and the fifth film is as yet unmade, so everyone will have to judge it on its merits alone. The plot remains a secret, and there is no word as yet on whether George Lucas has been involved at all in coming up with the basic idea. The new Indiana Jones outing is currently scheduled for a 19 July 2019 release.

Koepp's next script to hit the screens will be Ron Howard's (Rush) latest Dan Brown adaptation Inferno, set for release on 14 October.

Michael Jackson's chimp Bubbles set for stop motion feature

News arrives via Deadline that the Academy Award® nominated team behind Charlie Kaufman's animated feature Anomalisa (2015) are set to make a stop motion film told from the point of view of Michael Jackson's chimp Bubbles.

Dan Harman, the man behind Community and executive producer on Kaufman and Duke Johnson's film via his Starburns Industries production company, has worked with Andrew Kortschak's End Cue company to buy the rights to use the script.

Isaac Adamson's screenplay chronicles the ape's friendship with the King Of Pop after Jackson adopted him from a Texas research facility and gave him a home at his Neverland ranch in 1983. He lived with the megastar until he became too aggressive (Bubbles, not Jackson) and was moved to a primate sanctuary in Florida, where he still lives.

This could be an even more fascinating film than Anomalisa, but is also sure to be a controversial one given the rumours that endlessly swirled around Jackson. There is no director attached to this one just yet and the project is currently looking for a distributor. As always, watch this space.

Zack Snyder wants to adapt Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead

It is little more than an aside in a bigger The Hollywood Reporter piece about Zack and Deborah Snyder's plans for the future of the DC expanded movie universe. But it appears that, in rare moments of spare time, Zack Snyder (Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice) is working on an adaptation of Ayn Rand's anti-utopian, anti-altruist novel The Fountainhead.

Rand's right wing bible was previously filmed in 1949 by King Vidor, from a screenplay by the author herself. "Warner Bros owns [that] script," Snyder explains, "and I've just been working on that a little bit. I've always felt like The Fountainhead was such a thesis on the creative process and what it is to create something."

The massive novel – over 700 pages in Penguin Modern Classics – involves the doggedly individualist and capitalist architect Howard Roark. Roark wants to build a building that nobody else likes, but in the end, after many travails, it turns out he was right all along and his building is a spectacular success. The principal antagonist to Roark is Ellsworth Toohey, a dastardly socialist.

Rand's other major work, the even more enormous Atlas Shrugged, was put together as an indie movie trilogy in recent years by exercise equipment entrepreneur John Aglialoro, who bought the rights for a million dollars in 1993. All three films were critically slammed and commercially disastrous.

But there are hints that Snyder sees Roark's architectural righteousness as a metaphor for the filmmaking process and the auteur theory. "I love the idea that the individual filmmaker point of view is the thing that people want," he says, talking about the surprise success of Deadpool in the face of accepted film industry thinking.

Whatever, with parts one and two of Justice League in Snyder's immediate future, thoughts of other non-DC projects are clearly some way off.

Rand's The Fountainhead is, as we mentioned, published in the UK by Penguin Modern Classics.

Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice, meanwhile, is out in cinemas now.

Simon Pegg set for Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One

Clearly not content with conquering both of the big genre universes featuring 'star' in the title, it looks like Simon Pegg (Star Trek Into Darkness) will once again be working with Steven Spielberg, with news arriving via The Hollywood Reporter that the director has him in talks for Ready Player One.

This would mark the fourth time that their paths have crossed after Band Of Brothers (2001), The Adventures Of Tintin (2011) and Spielberg's voice cameo in Paul (2011), and Ready Player One certainly feels like the ideal project to find Pegg in.

Written by Ernie Cline, the screenwriter behind Fanboys (2009), Ready Player One follows teenager Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) who likes to escape his dreary, dangerous real world by logging into Oasis, a globally networked virtual utopia where users lead idyllic alternate lives.

When the game's eccentric, Steve Jobs style billionaire creator James Halliday dies, he offers up his fortune as the prize in an elaborate treasure hunt. Using his in-game avatar Parzival, Wade is pitted against powerful corporate foes and ruthless competitors who will do anything, in the Oasis and the real world, to reach the riches first.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Pegg will play Ogden Morrow, the Steve Wozniak to Halliday's Jobs, who co-created the Oasis system with him. The pair, who were once very close, parted ways after disagreements about the software's future direction, their feelings brought to the boil after they both fell in love with the same woman.

He will join a cast that also includes Olivia Cooke (Bates Motel) as Sam, a Canadian blogger who goes by the handle Art3mis and Ben Mendelsohn (Killing Them Softly) as the story's major antagonist, corporate schemer Nolan Sorrento.

Spielberg is gearing up to kick off shooting in June. Pegg, last seen under layers of latex in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), has co-written and returns as Scotty in Star Trek Beyond, out here on 22 July.

Guillermo del Toro wants Octavia Spencer and Sally Hawkins for his next film

Despite seemingly having several projects in development at any one time, Guillermo del Toro (Crimson Peak) has never had trouble focusing on one when a studio bites on a project. He is currently busy gearing up for his next, an untitled Cold War drama. Now news arrives via Variety that Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine) aboard to star, with Octavia Spencer (The Help) in talks.

The director – who has written and will also produce this new project for Fox Searchlight – hasn't revealed much in the way of details. But we do know that it will blend something otherworldly with a love story set against the backdrop of 1960s America.

We can expect magic and mystery, and of course some amazing design work all fuelled by del Toro's typical passion for such stories. Plus, with Hawkins and potentially Spencer in front of the camera, we should be in for some first-rate performances.

Hawkins will be seen in the next series of The Hollow Crown and has worked on Aisling Walsh's (The Daist Chain) indie biopic Maudie. Spencer, meanwhile, was last seen on our screens in The Divergent Series: Allegiant and she has a voice role in Walt Disney Animation Studios' Zootropolis, which is out in cinemas now.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Corin Hardy leaves Crow remake

Hitting problems due to the shutdown of studio Relativity Media last year, the remake of The Crow seemed be finally back on track, with reports that it might shoot this month. Not so, however. Though he hung on valiantly for longer than most, news arrive via The Hollywood Reporter that director Corin Hardy (The Hallow) has now left the project, as new producer Dana Brunetti (The Social Network) once again re-starts the project from scratch.

While an official statement is unforthcoming so far, Hardy appeared to confirm the news via his Twitter feed.

As troubled developments go, the new Crow is arguably up there with the best of them. Blade (1998) director Stephen Norrington began working on the project in 2008, but walked two years later. Subsequent directors Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (28 Weeks Later) and F. Javier Gutiérrez (Before The Fall) would also both move on as development dragged. Relativity Media and The Weinstein Company got into a spat over the rights at one point, before Relativity declared bankruptcy last year. It has lost two Crow leads to date, first in Luke Evans (Dracula Untold) and then Jack Huston (Boardwalk Empire). And producer Edward R. Pressman (American Psycho) himself sued to try and get the rights back from Relativity – a process that is still ongoing, despite Relativity Media's re-emergence in revivified form and with some of its film slate still intact.

Brunetti, Kevin Spacey's (American Beauty) producing partner, took the reins of Relativity last month as its new president of production running TV and film operations. "I believe that the company has tremendous potential, and I welcome the challenge to take the company to the next level," he said. Pressman believes he will now move forward with The Crow on his own terms, rather than in the form he inherited. Pressman's legal filings now include a complaint against Brunetti that his firing of Hardy has "undermined years of work expended by Pressman and has wasted valuable resources invested in the picture".

"With Dana coming aboard, we are giving him full creative rein," a Relativity spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter. "We want him to be able to reboot The Crow under his vision and guidance. We are optimistic he will create the best package for such an iconic franchise."

However, talking to Empire magazine recently, Hardy seemed to suggest all is not lost. "You have to keep watching, really, because it's quite a complicated situation. It ain't over."

It's still unclear exactly what caused Hardy's exit, but he still seems enthusiastic about the project. "The Crow remains something I'm so passionate about," he told us. "We shall see."

He does at least have other projects on his future slate – namely his still in development Yeti thriller Refuge.

Jason Fuchs set for Lobo

While the company is currently all about its Justice League team, and in particular Zack Snyder's Man Of Steel (2013) follow-up Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice, Warner Bros haven't forgotten about troublemaker Lobo. Now news arrives via The Wrap that Jason Fuchs (Ice Age: Continental Drift) is aboard to work on a fresh script.

The greasy, long haired, interstellar type first appeared in the pages of Omega Man issue 3 way back in 1983, birthed by creators Roger Slifer and Keith Giffen as a riff on the likes of Wolverine. The blue-skinned goon cropped up from time to time as a tough villain, though he was rarely well used. But he saw a real revival in the 1990s, when he was dragged out of footnote limbo, dusted off and re-imagined as a bounty hunter with his morality dial cranked to anti-hero. You have to figure that a little movie called Deadpool, about a sweary, violent, anti-heroic troublemaker might have something to do with the fresh interest.

Warner Bros and DC Entertainment have been trying to crack this one for a while now, with Guy Ritchie (Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows), Brad Peyton (San Andreas), writer Don Payne (Thir: The Dark World) and, for a brief period of rumour by the man himself, Dwayne Johnson (San Andreas), all linked with bringing the guy to the screen. Joel Silver (Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows) and Akiva Goldsman (I Am Legend) are still on board to produce, but it remains to be seen whether Fuchs can crank out a script that actually pushes this one into production.

His first work on a DC Expanded Universe film, Wonder Woman, will be out here on 23 June next year. Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice, meanwhile, is out in cinemas now.

Etan Cohen set to make new Cannonball Run

That sound you hear is the creaking of the vault door as yet another classic catalogue title is plucked from storage, dusted down and handed to a new filmmaking team. This time, it is the turn of The Cannonball Run, with news arriving via Deadline that Etan Cohen is writing and directing a new version.

The three Cannonball Run films featured sprawling casts of actors, but were primarily driven – for the first two, at least – by Burt Reynolds' cocky J.J. McClure and Dom DeLuise's luckless Victor Prinzim. Based on real life cross-country races, the films found the many competitors trying anything to win.

According to Deadline, Warner Bros – who nabbed the rights from its current holders – are saying this won't be a remake, but intends instead to relaunch the idea. Cohen, who had screenplay credits on films such as Idiocracy (2006), Tropic Thunder (2008) and Men In Black 3 (2012) before turning writer/director for Get Hard (2015), will marshall the madness. Given his comedy connections, we would expect a healthy clutch of funny people in the new outing, whatever it turns out to be. As always, watch this space.

First look at Gemma Arterton in The Girl With All The Gifts

Warner Bros have recently released our first look at Gemma Arterton (Runner runner) in Colm McCarthy's (Peaky Blinders) The Girl With All The Gifts.

Adapted from M. R. Carey's tale, The Girl With All The Gifts is set a near post apocalyptic future where most of humanity has been infected by a variation of a fungus known as the Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, also referred to as a zombie fungus. The infected, referred to as Hungries, quickly lose their mental powers and feed on the flesh of healthy humans. The disease spreads through blood and saliva, but can also spread through spores created by the fungus, which needs an unknown trigger to be opened.

The few surviving members of the human race live in a heavily guarded Birmingham and are focused on discovering a cure by studying a small group of children that are second generation hybrids – part Hungry, part human. Unlike first generation Hungries, the children are able to retain their mental powers and only lose control when they get too close to human scent. These studies require that the scientists kill their test subjects, something that one teacher, Helen Justineau (Gemma Arterton), finds uncomfortable. When one of the children, Melanie (Sennia Nanua), is selected for dissection by the head scientist Caroline Caldwell (Glenn Close), Helen must risk everything to save her.

With Paddy Considine (The Bourne Ultimatum) and Anamaria Marinca (Fury) also in the cast, The Girl With All The Gifts gets its UK release on 9 September.

Photoshoot of Jungle Book voice cast arrives online

A lot has been said about the beautiful effects work that helped bring Jon Favreau's (Cowboys & Aliens) live action take on The Jungle Book to life, but in an effort to remind us who provided the voices, Walt Disney Pictures have released some images of Idris Elba (Prometheus), Scarlett Johansson (Lucy), Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years A Slave) and most of the main animal voice cast for the film.

Taking on both Rudyard Kipling's 19th century source material and Disney's own animated classic, Favreau's latest focuses on the adventures of young Mowgli, played by newcomer Neel Sethi. Orphaned and raised by wolves (including Nyong'o's Raksha and Giancarlo Esposito's Akela), he learns of his human heritage and must decide whether he belongs with his own kind or stays in the jungle with the animals he knows as family. But the place he grew up has its own dangers, including the terrifying tiger Shere Khan.

Idris Elba provides his gravely tones to Khan, a character driven by a hatred of humans learned through clashes and scars. He is convinced that Mowgli is a threat and intends to rid his home of the man-cub.

Lupita Nyong'o's Raksha, meanwhile, is Mowgli's chief protector, who has cared for him since she found him abandoned in the jungle as an infant. Trivia note: Raksha is Hindi for 'protection'.

Also on the protective side is Bagheera (Ben Kingsley), who makes it his mission to educate and guide the young jungle dweller, and the one who is preparing him for his return to the human world.

Akela (Giancarlo Esposito) is the alpha male wolf who welcomes Mowgli into his family, but is worried that he may one day pose a danger. Still, he strongly believes in the unity of the pack, and is both a leader and a teacher.

King Louie (Christopher Walken) befriends Mowgli more for what he can glean from him – the giant ape is after the secret of mankind's deadly 'red flower', the animals' name for fire.

Finally, there is Kaa, seductively voiced by Scarlett Johansson, who entraps Mowgli with her storytelling and provides a link to his past.

Not pictured, however, is Bill Murray who plays Baloo, the lovable bear who is Mowgli's best friend and guide.

The Jungle Book is out now. Watch this space for our review.

First trailer and one sheet for The Shallows arrive online

Sony Pictures have recently released their first trailer and one sheet for The Shallows.

The Shallows finds Blake Lively (Savages) as Mia, a young woman dealing with the recent loss of her mother. When she decides to take to the water with her board on an isolated beach, she soon starts to regret her choice and finds herself stranded on a rock far from the shore. If that wasn't enough of her troubles, there is a huge Great White shark between her and shoreline.

Jaume Collet-Serra (Non-Stop) has directed the survival thriller from Anthony Jaswinski's (Vanishing On 7th Street) script.

With Óscar Jaenada (Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) and Sedona Legge also in its minimalist cast, The Shallows will swim into cinemas on 1 July.

First one sheet for Our Kind Of Traitor arrives online

StudioCanal have just released their first one sheet for Susanna White's (Nanny McPhee Returns) Our Kind Of Traitor.

Our Kind Of Traitor, adapted from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy author John le Carré's novel, finds ordinary English couple Perry (Ewan McGregor) and Gail (Naomie Harris) on holiday in Marrakech when they are approached by the flamboyant and charismatic Russian Dima (Stellan Skarsgard). But after enjoying themselves in his company, he makes an urgent request... Turns out he is part of the Russian mafia yet looking to get himself out of laundering money for very dangerous people, and he needs their help to get classified information to MI6.

Perry and Gail soon find themselves caught in a whirlwind of international intrigue, betrayal and danger, especially when dealing with the driven and determined MI6 agent Hector (Damian Lewis).

With Hossein Amini (Drive) on script duty and Susanna White directing, Our Kind Of Traitor will be out on 6 May.

"A normal man can do the impossible to save the woman he loves. My husband is no normal man."

Warner Bros have recently released their latest trailer and one sheet for Harry Potter veteran David Yates' The Legend Of Tarzan.

This latest adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' famous tale finds Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård) putting his vine swinging days behind him to settle down in Victorian London with wife Jane (Margot Robbie). But after a decade of life as a proper English gentleman, he is summoned back to the Congo where he was raised – something we see in flashbacks – ostensibly to serve as a trade emissary of Parliament. Unknowingly, he and his wife are also pawns of a deadly plan for revenge on the part of Belgian baddie Captain Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz).

"It's almost the opposite of the classic tale, where it's about taming the beast," says Skarsgård. "This is about a man who's holding back and slowly as you peel off the layers, he reverts back to a more animalistic state and lets that side of his personality out."

This initial glimpse of David Yates adventure certainly looks impressive, including plenty of ape action that suggests the troop of digital simians could be of some help – if they can stop punching our hero that is.

With Samuel L. Jackson (Django Unchained), John Hurt (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Simon Russell Beale (Into The Woods), Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond) and Casper Crump (Almost Perfect) in the cast, The Legend Of Tarzan arrives in the UK on 8 July.

"You're not students anymore... you're X-Men."

20th Century Fox have recently released their latest trailer for Bryan Singer's X-Men: Days Of Future Past (2014) follow-up X-Men: Apocalypse.

An incredibly powerful and ancient mutant, Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) is the source of several biblical myths and considered a living god. Needless to say he will be causing trouble for James McAvoy's Professor Xavier, Michael Fassbender's Magneto and the rest.

The film finds our heroes split across the globe – The Professor is still trying to help mutants blend in with the world, while Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) is on her own crusade to settle matters between humans and mutants in a more violent fashion. Magneto, meanwhile, is opting for a quieter life of love in Poland. At least, that is, until Apocalypse arrives to recruits him...

And the endlessly dangerous being is also taking on what has always been known in the comics as his Horsemen, which in this case includes the young Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Psylocke (Olivia Munn) and Angel (Ben Hardy), who are all in bad circumstances of their own. Apocalypse, who has been in slumber for centuries, decides that the 1980s is a world ripe for a reboot.

"[Humanity] bears no respect or devotion to him – that's the big giant ego of the old god," explains Singer. "All of it lacks symmetry, order and devotion to him. It needs to be culled. It needs to be wiped away and rebuilt again."

With Nicholas Hoult, Evan Peters and Rose Byrne all returning, alongside Sophie Turner (Game Of Thrones), Kodi Smit-McPhee (Let Me In) and Lana Condor, X-Men: Apocalypse will be invading our screens on 19 May.

Friday, 22 April 2016

First trailer and one sheet for Ben-Hur arrive online

Paramount Pictures have recently released their first trailer and one sheet for Timur Bekmambetov's (Wanted) Ben-Hur.

It is one thing to have the concept for another cinematic take on Lew Wallace's classic novel Ben-Hur: A Tale Of The Christ. It is quite another to see Jack Huston (Boardwalk Empire) filling a role once made famous – and to Academy Award® winning effect – by Charlton Heston.

This latest take on Ben-Hur pledges to skirt closer to Wallace's book than the 1959 film. It will chronicle the younger days of Ben-Hur and Messala (Toby Kebbell), best friends growing up in Jerusalem. Ben-Hur is a Jewish prince and Messala the son of a Roman tax collector who is packed off to be educated in Rome for five years. Upon his return, Messala mocks our hero for his religion and, after an accident he pins on his friend, has him sold into slavery. But then the Roman galley he is aboard is shipwrecked and he finds himself with a chance at revenge, helped by wisdom and training from Morgan Freeman's Ilderim. And he gets his big chance during a chariot race.

"You get in with two horses on a chariot, which blows your mind, and then you put four horses on the end of your reins," Huston tells USA Today. "It would be the equivalent of a Formula 1 race. It's overwhelming and incredibly scary. But after the first day where you think every second, 'I'm gonna die, I'm gonna die, I'm gonna die,' you decide to put that out of your brain for good and it becomes just part of the job."

With Nazanin Boniadi (Homeland), Rodrigo Santoro (300), Pilou Asbaek (Lucy) and Moises Arias (Ender's Game) also in the cast, Ben-Hur will arrive in the UK on 26 August.

"There's always more than what's on the surface."

Entertainment One have recently released their latest trailer for Jon M. Chu's (G.I. Joe: Retaliation) Now You See Me 2.

The end – spoiler alert – of sleeper hit Now You See Me (2012) found the Four Horsemen (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher and Dave Franco) recruited for a larger society of tricksters. Now You See Me 2 is set reveal what they have in store for their second act.

This time around, the Horsemen – with Lizzy Caplan (Masters Of Sex) now standing in for Isla Fisher's Henley as new addition Lula – haven't been seen since they outwitted the FBI and pulled off a daring heist to expose financier Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine). But a year later they are back, still ready to right wrongs and acting as Robin Hood-style magicians. This time, though, they face technology prodigy Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe), who not only has a hold on them, but also connections to Arthur. The only way for the Horsemen to clear their name is to pull off their most impossible heist yet...

With Mark Ruffalo returning as Dylan Rhodes and Sanaa Lathan (AVP: Alien Vs. Predator) also in the cast, the film is set to arrive in the UK on 10 June.

Han Solo Star Wars standalone is close to casting

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Star Wars: Episode VIII are, of course, immediately incoming. But there is also the small matter of Chris Miller and Phil Lord's (The Lego Movie) Han Solo standalone. The casting process to find a young Solo to fill Harrison Ford's considerable shoes has been extensive, with thousands of hopefuls either attending auditions or sending in tapes. But we are down to the last few now, with news arriving via The Hollywood Reporter that the names in final contention are Alden Ehrenreich, Jack Reynor and Taron Egerton.

This is potentially one of those casting shortlist stories which may or may not have any bearing on the final announcement. But is certainly intriguing.

Ehrenreich has recently been stealing scenes as the laconic cowboy actor Hobie Doyle in the Coen Brothers' (Inside Llewyn Davis) Hail, Caesar!. Jack Reynor made his biggest impression to date as the stoically hunky Shane in Transformers: Age Of Extinction (2014). While Egerton broke onto the scene in Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) and is currently on our screens in Dexter Fletcher's (Sunshine On Leith) Eddie The Eagle. From Eddie Edwards to Han Solo. That's versatility. 

There are a couple of other names in the mix too – specifically Miles Teller (Whiplash) and Ansel Elgort (The Fault In our Stars) – but The Hollywood Reporters' feature makes it sound as if they are now out of the running.

Producer Kathleen Kennedy (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) had previously hinted that the movie might find Han Solo in his late teens, but according to screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan (Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back) it will be set, at most, a decade before Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977). That would make this, if you will, the Han Solo of the old Brian Daley novels like Han Solo At Stars' End and Han Solo's Revenge. Which means he is really not far off being 1977 Harrison Ford at all. Can any of the names mentioned so far carry off a convincing job?

Ford himself, if you somehow missed it, is conversely not giving up the role of Indiana Jones, and will be returning for a fifth movie in the adventurous archaeological franchise in 2019. Our next date with Star Wars will be Gareth Edwards' (Godzilla) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which is out in the UK on 16 December.

Harrison Ford set to return as Indiana Jones

Despite recent rumours that Harrison Ford might be handing the hat over to someone new, Walt Disney Pictures have officially announced that fifth Indiana Jones film is heading into production with Steven Speilberg once again behind the camera. 

All jokes aside about "there was a fourth?", it is good news for those hoping that Spielberg and Ford would give it one more crack of the bullwhip. "Indiana Jones is one of the greatest heroes in cinematic history, and we can't wait to bring him back to the screen in 2019," says Walt Disney Pictures chairman Alan Horn in the announcement. "It's rare to have such a perfect combination of director, producers, actor and role, and we couldn't be more excited to embark on this adventure with Harrison and Steven." No mention is made of the plot this time – or of George Lucas' involvement –but regular producers Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall are involved.

The new Indiana Jones is currently targeting a release date of 19 July 2019.

"That's not code... it's her!"

Warner Bros have recently released their latest trailer for Simon Verhoeven's (Men In The City) Friend Request.

Friend Request finds college student Laura (Alycia Debnam-Carey) on the receiving end of some unwanted attention from cyberspace. When she accepts a friend request from a strange woman called Marina (Liesl Ahlers) things quickly take a turn for the worse and the situation becomes actively terminal for her other friends... and not in the computer sense.

If the trailer is anything to go by, this one will boast a combination of millennial chills and old school body horror.

Friend Request is out in the UK now.

Caspar Phillipson set to play JFK in Jackie

Major film studios quite often select actors from Europe and elsewhere who are new faces to audiences in the US. And so it is with Jackie, the new film about Jackie Kennedy, with news arriving via The Hollywood Reporter that Caspar Phillipson (Flame And Citron) is set to play John F. Kennedy.

How exactly he will fit into the film remains to be seen, especially since the focus is on Natalie Portman's (Black Swan) Jackie in the first four days after JFK's assassination in Texas in 1963. But we can assume he won't just be lying in state, and there will be flashbacks to happier days for the couple in between the First Lady trying to deal with the aftermath of her husband's death.

Pablo Larraín (No) is directing the film now from Noah Oppenheim's (Allegiant) script, and he has Peter Sarsgaard (Jarhead), Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha), Beth Grant (No Country For Old Men) and John Hurtin John Hurt (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) the cast. Phillipson is perhaps best known for Scandinavian dramas Borgen and The Bridge and for films including Flame And Citron (2008) and The Escape (2009). Jackie, meanwhile, is expected to arrive sometime next year.

Benjamin Rigby joins Alien: Covenant

With Ridley Scott's (Prometheus) cameras officially rolling, Alien: Covenant is still finding new cast members. Latest name to join is relative newcomer Benjamin Rigby (Green Eyed), although we don't as yet know who will be playing.

Much of the film's story is still a mystery, and with Michael Fassbender currently the only returning Prometheus (2012) cast member listed, it remains to be seen how this new film connects with Scott's last trip to the Alien universe and how it will link forward through the series (the director is aiming to spawn a new trilogy) to the original Alien (1979).

So we don't yet know what the new arrivals will be doing, or how they mesh with those already cast including Katherine Waterston (Inherent Vice), Demián Bichir (The Hateful Eight) and, most intriguingly, Danny McBride (Eastbound & Down). Also reportedly aboard – albeit behind the scenes – is composer Harry Gregson-Williams, who has provided the music for Scott's last few movies.

Australian actor Rigby doesn't have much work to his name yet, bar a handful of short films and one low budget post-apocalyptic horror movie Plague (2015). On Australian TV he has been in The Secret River and Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries. He will next be seen playing a waiter in the Weinsteins' upcoming Lion, starring Rooney Mara (Carol), Nicole Kidman (Stoker) and Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire).

With script work from Michael Green (Green Lantern), John Logan (Skyfall) and Jack Paglen (Transcendence) among others, Alien: Covenant will be stalking our cinemas from 6 October next year.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Julia Roberts set for crime drama Train Man

Julia Roberts' most recent crime thriller, Secret In Their Eyes (2015), could have used an investigation of its own, since it was cut down by bad reviews and disinterested audiences. Clearly hoping for better things, news arrives via Variety that she is set to star in Train Man.

Train Man, which Variety reports boasts a script by Simon Stephenson (Eleventh Hour), is based on the real life case of Darius McCollum, a man who has been arrested more than 25 times in New York for posing as public transport worker and driving off a number of trains and buses. McCollum, who has Asperger's syndrome, has become something of a folk hero in the city.

Real life legal stories have certainly done well for Roberts in the past – she won an Academy Award® for Erin Brockovich (2000) – and the role of McCollum's lawyer sounds like it could be a good one for her. But there is no director on the film as yet, so we will see if she ends up taking the job.

Roberts will next be seen in Jodie Foster's (The Beaver) Money Monster, which arrives 27 May, and has Garry Marshall's (New Year's Eve) Mother's Day, set for 10 June.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice writer Chris Terrio discusses Justice League

With Zack Snyder's Man Of Steel (2013) follow-up Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice currently on our screens, writer Chris Terrio has been out on the interview circuit. And he has good news for anyone concerned that the DC movie universe was skewing rather dour. Justice League - Part One, which he has also written, will be a bit lighter.

"Batman V Superman is a bit of an Empire Strikes Back or Two Towers or any similar middle film in a trilogy," Terrio tells The Wall Street Journal. "The middle film tends to be the darkest one. I do think from Man Of Steel through Justice League, it is one saga really. I expect Justice League will be tonally not quite as dark as Batman V Superman. From that point of view, I felt compelled to go back and try to lift us and myself into a different tonal place because I think when you write a darker film, sometimes you want to redeem it all a bit."

Having won an Academy Award® for writing Ben Affleck's Argo, Terrio says he is surprised to find himself now writing superhero films, but he is approaching them with an impressive intellectual rigour. As far as the comics go, he name checks Frank Miller and Grant Morrison. But his reading is wider than just the nailed-on Batman classics.

"For Batman V Superman I wanted to really dig into everything from ideas about American power to the structure of revenge tragedies to the huge canon of DC Comics to Amazon mythology," he explains. "For Justice League I could be reading in the same day about red-and-blue shifts in physics, Diodorus of Sicily and his account of the war between Amazons and Atlanteans, or deep-sea biology and what kind of life plausibly might be in the Mariana Trench." At this point he may be superheroed out, however, announcing that he may not continue to Justice League - Part Two.

The specific Amazons and Atlanteans on his current radar are, of course, Wonder Woman and Aquaman, and of the former, Terrio also shared his thoughts on not giving her an origin story as such.

"I thought it would be better if we met her as a civilian first and involved her in the plot in a way that felt like a thriller," he muses. "She's a mysterious woman interested in the same things Bruce Wayne is. The fun of it is if you don’t immediately reveal her in superhero guise, you get to revel in the moment when she finally does reveal herself. If you bring in a character in a kinetic way, then you accept the reality more easily."

For much more, including Terrio's thoughts on Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, head over to The Wall Street Journal for the rest of the interview.

Between Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice and Justice League there are, of course, other movies. David Ayer's (Fury) Suicide Squad will arrive on 5 August, followed Patty Jenkins' (Monster) standalone Wonder Woman – possibly a prequel giving us that origin story after all - which arrives on 23 June next year. Zack Snyder's Justice League - Part 1, meanwhile, is set to start shooting this month and is currently targeting a 17 November 2017 release. James Wan's (Fast & Furious 7) Aquaman is due on 27 July 2018. Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice is out now.

Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk recruits a new lead

News arrives via The Wrap that British newcomer Fionn Whitehead is reported to be Christopher Nolan's (Interstellar) first choice for one of the two main roles.

While Whitehead has yet to put pen to paper, sources indicate that he is Nolan's choice for the role of, presumably, a British army Tommy stationed in France. To date his CV only includes three-part ITV drama Himand and time at London's National Youth Theatre, so it would certainly be a mighty leap forward for the actor.

The project, which reunites Nolan with his studio partner Warner Bros and his producing partner Emma Thomas (Interstellar), tackles a British military disaster that became an unlikely triumph – the Dunkirk evacuation of 1940. Known as Operation Dynamo, it involved rescuing 330,000 Allied troops from the beaches of northern France using an armada of small civilian boats and navy vessels, all while Stukas dive-bombed and Nazi tanks sat just over the horizon.

Joe Wright's Atonement (2007) brilliantly visualised it as a bleak carnival in its grandstand tracking shot. It will be fascinating to see how the equally visual Nolan represents it when he brings his 65mm large-format cameras to bear this May.

If Whitehead is cast, he will join One Direction heart-throb Harry Stiles, Jack Lowden ('71), Aneurin Barnard (Citadel) and British acting luminaries Tom Hardy (Lawless), Kenneth Branagh (Valkyrie) and Mark Rylance (Bridge Of Spies) on the sands of Dunkirk.

Christoph Waltz set to join Matt Damon in Downsizing

News arrives via Variety that Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained) has signed up to co-star alongside Matt Damon (The Martian) in Alexander Payne's (The Descendants) Downsizing. Hong Chau (Inherent Vice) has also joined the project.

Payne wrote the script with Sideways (2004) partner Jim Taylor. Though there may have been changes along the way, the plot should still see a man low on money who decides that life would be a lot cheaper and easier if he underwent a procedure to shrink himself. Travelling through life as a tiny person, he meets a girl and a pint-sized foreigner. Paul Giamatti (Saving Mr. Banks), Reese Witherspoon (Walk The Line) and Sacha Baron Cohen (Hugo) were originally attached back in 2009, but this sounds like a new cast in the making.

The film will see Payne dabbling in effects technology to a greater extent than ever before, with green screen and other tricks needed to pull off the shrinking scenes.

Payne is certainly not a man who makes duds. From Citizen Ruth (1996) to Nebraska (2013), his output has been critically lauded and illuminated by canny casting picks – Reese Witherspoon in Election (1999), Jack Nicholson for About Schmidt (2002) – and smartly told tales of modern Americana.

We can expect Downsizing to arrive later next year.

Halle Berry in talks to join Kingsman: The Secret Service sequel

The Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) sequel certainly seems to be trying to fill the gender gap in its cast. With Julianne Moore (Still Alice) already in line as the villain for the new movie, news arrives via Deadline that Matthew Vaughn is talking to Halle Berry (Cloud Atlas) about jumping aboard.

Berry has yet to lock in an agreement, but Deadline reports that she is seriously considering a deal for two films, not just one, which certainly suggests that producers are looking to expand further beyond this second outing if the box office again proves favourable. If she does sign on, she will be playing the head of the CIA.

Taron Egerton has said previously that the new movie will see Gary 'Eggsy' Unwin travelling to new places as he sorts out other problems on the world stage. Plus, he will be a fully fledged member of the organisation this time around, heading out on missions and tackling a new threat. And from the sound of it, he will be rubbing shoulders with American intelligence agencies. Or possibly rubbing them the wrong way...

Vaughn and regular collaborator Jane Goldman have been working on the script and are looking at starting pre-production in May before rolling the cameras in the summer. The movie already has a 16 June 2017 release date pencilled in.

Jake Gyllenhaal set to join Ryan Reynolds in science fiction thriller Life

With Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool) and Rebecca Ferguson (Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation) already aboard, it might have seemed as though new science fiction thriller Life had filled its star quotient. But news arrives via Variety that Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler) is taking over one of the lead roles.

He has actually been added because Reynolds has a schedule clash with Hitman's Bodyguard and won't have the time to tackle the main character. But instead of pushing the eject button completely, the Deadpool star has shifted to one of the supporting roles, with Gyllenhaal taking his place.

The plot, written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (Zombieland), sees astronauts on the International Space Station receiving a sample from Mars, discovering that it has signs of life and then fearing for their own lives and the future of Earth when it turns out to be more intelligent than anyone could have guessed.

Daniel Espinosa (Safe House) is in the director's chair for this one, which has yet to receive a start date or release schedule. Gyllenhaal, meanwhile, will next be seen in Jean-Marc Vallée's (Dallas Buyers Club) Demolition, which arrives here on 29 April.

Tom Taylor set to play Jake Chambers in The Dark Tower

With Idris Elba (Prometheus) and Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club) locked in for the lead roles, Dark Tower director Nikolaj Arcel (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) has started building the rest of his cast. Now news arrive via Variety that newcomer Tom Taylor has scored the key part of Jake Chambers.

Newcomer, of course is a relative term – he has been seen in the likes of Doctor Foster and The Last Kingdom on the small screen, but this will be his first film role. And quite a role it is too. One of the main components of the early Tower stories, Chambers is set play Roland Deschain's (Idris Elba) protege, a young man with keen survival skills and a natural knack for gunslinging, much like his mentor. 

With Abbey Lee (Mad Max: Fury Road) aboard in a still mysterious capacity, and a script that has seen work from Akiva Goldsman (I Am Legend), Jeff Pinkner (The Amazing Spider-Man 2), Anders Thomas Jensen (In A Better World) and Arcel himself, the Stephen King adaptation is currently targeting a February 2017 release date, and production company Media Rights Capital is hoping that it will both spawn a film franchise and help launch a new TV series to run alongside the big screen adventures. But first, the initial movie has to work...