Friday, 31 March 2017

Our CinemaCon Buzzmeter: What's hot and what's not in Las Vegas

The major film studios have gathered in Sin City this week to preview their upcoming films. But are there really any sure bets for multiplexes in 2017/18?

We look at what's hot and what's not with the latest buzz from this years CinemaCon at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

Blade Runner: 2049

Denis Villeneuve's (Sicario) sequel to the neo-noir classic is reportedly visually stunning, with a few sly nods to Ridley Scott's 1982 original and an impressively creepy Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club). Sign us up. (Sony Pictures and Warner Bros)


The Christopher Nolan (Interstellar) World War II drama – pictured above – is looking epic in every sense of the word. (Warner Bros)


The superhero film hasn't even shot yet, but that didn't stop Warner Bro and DC Entertainment from showing images of from the film's production design. This dreamy, arresting underwater world looks like it could be a comic book breakthrough. Fingers crossed. (Warner Bros)

Atomic Blonde

Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road) is looking badass as a Cold War spy. A new action hero is born. (Focus Features)

The Beguiled

Dreamy, sultry, and gloriously Southern. This erotic drama certainly looks to weave a spell. (Universal Pictures and Focus Features)


Sure to go down as Alexander Payne's (The Descendants) most bizarre film. Matt Damon (The Martian) and Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids) star as a couple who decide to shrink themselves in order to live the good life. The 10 minutes that screened were by all accounts out there, but hilarious and compelling. (Paramount Pictures)

The House

Will Ferrell (Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy) and Amy Poehler (Inside Out) star in Andrew Jay Cohen's feature debut comedy about parents who turn to crime to pay for their kid's college has the marking of an R-rated summer comedy smash. (Warner Bros)

The Mummy

Breathing new life into their classic creature features, Universal Pictures latest reboot looks scary, sexy and cool. While Tom Cruise (Edge Of Tomorrow) arguably looks a tad too adrenalized, this remake won't be skimping on the jump scares. (Universal Pictures)


A gag where Zac Efron's (That Awkward Moment) dim bulb life guard examines a dead man's genitals is apparently worth the price of admission alone. (Paramount Pictures)

Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle

The filmmakers would have us believe that Jumanji is a beloved property. That may or may not be the case, but the combination of Dwayne Johnson (San Andreas), Kevin Hart (Ride Along), Jack Black (School Of Rock) and Karen Gillan (Guardians Of The Galaxy) in skimpy shorts should certainly translate into a big global hit. (Sony Pictures)

Wonder Woman

Potentially another lacklustre entry in the DC Expanded Universe, but Gal Gadot (Fast & Furious 6) has star power to spare. (Warner Bros)


Hard to know what exactly is going on in this Natalie Portman (Black Swan) thriller, but reports suggest it looked pretty scary. (Paramount Pictures)

Spider-Man: Homecoming

A lot more coverage of Michael Keaton (Birdman) as the villainous, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) hating Vulture. Tom Holland (The Impossible) has a wide eyed appeal that could offer a fresh take on a familiar hero, but after five different Spider-Man movies, there is arguably a risk of fatigue. (Sony Pictures)

Despicable Me 3

By the numbers preview for the animated sequel. Regardless, this sequel will almost certainly make a ridiculous amount of money. (Universal Pictures)


George Clooney (The Monuments Men) takes a cudgel to Eisenhower era conformity. It looks offbeat, well shot, and very, very bloody. (Paramount Pictures)


French director Luc Besson's (Léon: The Professional) passion project is looking a lot The Fifth Element (1997). There are outrageous aliens, a French director colour palate, and Rihanna (Battleship) in a nurse's costume. Looks dangerously out there. (STX Entertainment)

The Dark Tower

Some seemingly cool standoffs between Idris Elba (Prometheus) as a heroic gunslinger and Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club) as the villainous Man in Black. But the plot is reportedly convoluted and is set to open in a crowded summer season. This may just be for die hard fans of Stephen King. (Sony Pictures)

Justice League

Zack Snyder obviously got the memo that Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice (2016) needed a humor injection, but the quip happy trailer still seemed like a pretty joyless affair. (Warner Bros)

Molly's Game

Aaron Sorkin (Steve Jobs) makes his directorial debut in this thriller about a corner cutting entrepreneur (Jessica Chastain) who dreams up a high stakes poker game. Tough to see how this one breaks out barring awards buzz. (STX Entertainment)

The Book Of Henry

Is it a film about a boy genius? Is it a mystery? Or is it an awards bait drama? Who knows. What it looks like though is a mess. (Focus Features)


Woeful digital effects and an utterly derivative plot, this Gerard Butler (Olympus Has Fallen) starring disaster movie looks like Sharknado (2013) on a slightly bigger budget. (Warner Bros)

The Emoji Movie

Why? Just why? (Sony Pictures)

Sizzling hot

Ice cold

Thursday, 30 March 2017

10 times movies recreated moments from history

With a growing number of biopics making there way to multiplexes, many of us may not realise that we are often watching exhaustively recreated historical footage. Maybe you saw Natalie Portman giving a tour of the White House in Jackie (2016) without realising that it cane from an actual CBS and NBC broadcast of Jackie Kennedy on Valentine's Day in 1962. Or perhaps you saw Catch Me If You Can (2002) and thought the game show scene was just a neat storytelling trick from Steven Spielberg rather than recreated footage from the To Tell The Truth game show in 1977.

But, in most cases, these moments of filmed history are so important, and so well known, they can be very difficult to recreate. Ultimately they need to be believable. And when scenes like the march from Selma to Montgomery and the assassination of Lee Harvey Oswald are so ingrained in history, filmmakers must go through incredible lengths to do them right. Notice how in Selma, each marcher's posture and speed and demeanour matches the actual footage, and how Portman's Jackie Kennedy stiffly backs – hands folded – into frame in the White House.

Created by UK based photographer and director Vugar Efendi, this video demonstrates the impressive attention to detail required in recreating history.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Colin Farrell set for Inner City

Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler) already has Denzel Washington (The Equalizer) aboard his next gritty thriller, Inner City. Now news arrives via The Hollywood Reporter that he is aiming to add Colin Farrell (Total Recall) to the cast.

With news of Farrell entering talks comes some more details on the story for this one. Washington will play a reclusive lawyer who has worked for decades as a legal researcher for his beloved mentor. But when the older man passes away, he is snapped up by a well known, but far more cutthroat firm where he discovers a case that changes his life... And could potentially threaten it.

As for Farrell, he is circling playing the slick, wealthy legal eagle who initially recruits Washington to his new job. If he makes a deal, he will be working on the film starting later this month in Los Angeles. Farrell most recently worked on Sofia Coppola's (Somewhere) latest, The Beguiled and reunited with his Lobster (2015) director Yorgos Lanthimos for The Killing Of A Sacred Deer.

Nicole Kidman in talks for Aquaman

Currently swimming towards an April shoot date, director James Wan (The Conjuring) and the Aquaman team are starting to lock down more cast. News arrives via The Hollywood Reporter that Nicole Kidman (Stoker) and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (The Get Down) are in talks for roles.

Kidman, assuming she signs, is looking to play Aquaman's mother, Atlanna. A member of the royal family in Atlantis, she escaped her kingdom for an adventure on the surface, and ended up falling for a lighthouse keeper and giving birth to Jason Momoa's (Conan The Barbarian) hero.

As for Abdul-Mateen, the man who plays Cadillac on the Netflix series is in line to be Black Manta, a scheming villain and one of Aquaman's main foes who was first introduced in 1967. It is the latest big film role for the actor, who narrowly missed out on the role of Lando Calrissian in the Han Solo Star Wars spin-off but will be seen in Baywatch and The Greatest Showman.

The pair will join a cast that already boasts Amber Heard (The Danish Girl) as Mera, Willem Dafoe (The Grand Budapest Hotel) as scientist and adviser Vulko and Patrick Wilson (The Conjuring) as Orm, Aquaman's half-brother and another threat.

Wan is aiming for a 5 October release date next year. Momoa, Heard and Dafoe will all pop up in Justice League, due out on 17 November.

Diego Luna circling Scarface remake

In what appears to be one step forward, one step back in world of filmmaking, Variety brings word that while director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) has left the latest version of Scarface, Diego Luna (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) is currently in the frame to take the lead.

Fuqua had been seriously considering the job since last August, and the director was enthusiastic about the chance to make it. But a sticking point arose when Sony Pictures needed him to stay on to develop the Equalizer sequel, into which he has poured even more time and effort... Despite attempts to figure out the schedule – Universal Pictures are also looking to have Scarface shooting this spring – a new director will be needed.

As for Luna, Variety's sources say he is attached to star, but there has been no official announcement about that yet. The new version of Scarface, like the 1932 take and more famous 1983 movie will once again explore an immigrant chasing the American dream via any method necessary – up to, and including violent crime. In this latest variation, which has Terence Winter (The Wolf Of Wall Street) writing the most recent script draft, the newcomer is Mexican. After going through a couple of potential directors, Universal Pictures are meeting others, intending to keep the movie on track to shoot this year.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Liam Neeson set for revenge thriller Hard Powder

Just when you thought Liam Neeson (Taken) might be hanging up his particular set of skills and getting out of the wronged citizen business, along comes another action thriller. News arrives via Variety that he is set to join Hans Peter Moland's (In Order Of Disappearance) Hard Powder.

Based on Norwegian original In Order Of Disappearance (2014), the film finds Neeson as Nels, an upstanding snowplow driver and recipient of Citizen Of The Year prize from his swanky Colorado ski town. But when his son is murdered by a local drug kingpin, a switch flips inside our hero and he goes on a rampage. "Fuelled by an unwavering drive for vengeance and armed with heavy machinery, this unlikely hero sets out to dismantle the cartel with extreme prejudice, and he's not stopping until he gets to the top of the food chain," says the synopsis, and he will be up against a well dressed, vegan Native American mafia boss who drives a Tesla but is only too happy murdering people.

Hans Peter Moland is back for this one, which has a script from Frank Baldwin (The Run), and cameras are set to roll this month in Canada.

Neeson was most recently seen in Martin Scorsese's Silence (2016) and will crop up next in regular collaborator Jaume Collet-Serra's (Unkonwn) latest thriller The Commuter and Watergate drama Felt.

Saoirse Ronan set to star in refugee drama Sweetness In The Belly

As refugees and immigration continue to be a flashpoint topic, a new drama will look at the subject from a personal angle. News arrives via Deadline that Saoirse Ronan (Atonement) is attached to star in Sweetness In The Belly.

Ethiopian director Zeresenay Berhane Mehari (Difret) will oversee the film, which has Laura Phillips (Nancy Drew) adapting Camilla Gibbs' bestseller. Ronan is on board to star as Lilly Abdal, a young woman whose life straddles two very different worlds. Orphaned in Africa as a child born to English parents, she returns to their homeland as a refugee, fleeing a violent civil war. Trying to find herself in a cold new home, Lily becomes the heart of a disenfranchised community and works to reunite people with their scattered families. But she is also dealing with a lost love affair with idealistic doctor Aziz.

"When we were developing the script Saoirse was our dream first choice for Lilly," producers Jennifer Kawaja and Julia Sereny (New Waterford Girl) tell Deadline. "It's so wonderful to have her on board. We are thrilled to begin to realise the project, especially as the film is even more relevant now then it was when we started this journey."

The cameras will be rolling this September. Ronan, meanwhile, has several films awaiting release, including The Seagull, On Chesil Beach and Greta Gerwig's (Nights And Weekends) Lady Bird.

Ben Affleck won't direct The Batman

It was an open secret for months, but a solo outing for Ben Affleck's Batman was officially announced by studio Warner Bros last April, as Zack Snyder's Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice (2016) arrived on screens. Since then we have learned that the current working title is The Batman, that Affleck is himself at work on the script with DC boss Geoff Johns, and that Joe Manganiello has been cast as the villainous Deathstroke. It all seemed to be moving forward efficiently, but now news arrives via Variety that, while he is staying to play Bruce Wayne/Batman and produce The Batman, Ben Affleck has officially decided to step away from the director's chair.

There had been signs of issues with the film in recent months, with no clear answer as to when the script would be finished and no solid word on a production start date. And now the actor has announced that he is going to stick to playing the hero, producing the movie and co-writing the screenplay with Geoff Johns. "There are certain characters who hold a special place in the hearts of millions," Affleck says. "Performing this role demands focus, passion and the very best performance I can give. It has become clear that I cannot do both jobs to the level they require. Together with the studio, I have decided to find a partner in a director who will collaborate with me on this massive film. I am still in this, and we are making it, but we are currently looking for a director. I remain extremely committed to this project, and look forward to bringing this to life for fans around the world."

As for Warner Bros, the studio were quick to issue a statement backing the choice. "Warner Bros fully supports Ben Affleck's decision and remains committed to working with him to bring a standalone Batman picture to life."

It may not stymie the rumours of creative confusion in the Warners Bros and DC Entertainment camp, but at least it has happened now and not as the movie is starting to shoot. But the question now becomes who can take over the job. According to Variety's sources, the shortlist of potential candidates includes Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (2014) veteran Matt Reeves.

As for Affleck's Batman, he will be back on screens in Justice League out this November.

Viola Davis and Julia Roberts set to star in Small Great Things

Finally garnering an Oscar win after two previous nominations, Viola Davis (Fences) is heading for a new project that should see her co-starring with fellow Academy Award® winner Julia Roberts (Secret In Their Eyes). News arrives via Deadline that she is attached to the adaptation of Jodi Picoult's Small Great Things.

The movie is still at an embryonic stage, with no writer or director attached as yet, though La La Land (2016) producer Marc Platt will develop the film for his company and Amblin Partners.

Small Great Things tackles the sensitive subject of race relations as it follows Ruth, a delivery nurse who is a 20-year veteran in taking care of newborns at a Connecticut hospital. But she is told not to touch the baby of a couple who are white supremacists. When the couple's baby dies and Ruth is the only one present, the couple takes her to court.

You can see Davis' award winning performance in Fences in cinemas now, while Roberts will next be seen in Wonder and heard in Smurfs: The Lost Village.

Max Minghella set to direct Teen Spirit

After helping to get one of his late father's projects made by writing and producing The 9th Life Of Louis Drax (2016), news arrives via Variety that Max Minghella is stepping up to direct one of his own scripts. And he has one of La La Land's producers aiding him with Teen Spirit.

Minghella developed the script with Jamie Bell (who has an executive producer credit) and is gearing up to make the movie, described as "an emotional underdog story set in the world of pop-music, about growing up, dreaming big, and finding your voice." It will focus on shy teen Violet, who survives small town life in Eastern Europe with her dysfunctional family by channeling dreams of pop stardom. She enters an international singing competition, and discovers there is more to the world than just having a healthy set of pipes.

It will be filled with contemporary music, and La La Land producer Fred Berger is bringing some of the musical's tune team to this one, including music producer Marius DeVries and music supervisor Steven Gizicki, while Interscope Records will handle the soundtrack.

In front of the camera, Minghella will be back on screens via the new TV adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale.

Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway join Steven Knight's Serenity

News arrives via Deadline that Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway are currently closing deals for Steven Knight's (Locke) latest noir Serenity.

Knight has once again written and will direct the film, and Deadline has sniffed out details about the plot, which reportedly finds a fishing boat captain in the Caribbean whose past life is about to crash into his present and change all that he knows. Given that it is set to see McConaughey and Hathaway sharing the screen again for the first time since Interstellar (2014), we can only wonder whether Matt Damon is lurking on an island somewhere...

Assuming it all comes together, Knight will be kicking off the shoot this summer.

McConaughey can currently be seen in Gold and has The Dark Tower arriving in cinemas on 28 July. Hathaway, meanwhile, has Ocean's Eight out next year and offbeat monster movie Colossal still seeking a UK release.

Millie Bobby Brown set for Godzilla: King Of The Monsters

She has already made a name for herself going up against a weird creature in last year's hit Netflix series Stranger Things. For her first movie role, Millie Bobby Brown is graduating to a monster of a whole new scale, with Legendary Pictures announcing that she is set to star in Godzilla: King Of The Monsters.

Michael Dougherty (Krampus), who had been at work on the script with co-writer Zach Shields, was confirmed recently as the director of the sequel to Godzilla (2014). We don't yet know what will happen in the new movie, but given the creature's warmer reception after fighting off mutant beasties in the previous outing, we would imagine Godzilla will be back to battle some more humungous competition. As for Brown? Details on her character have yet to be released.

The new film is part of Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros' planned giant monster movies, which includes Kong: Skull Island, out in cinemas now. King Of Monsters has been scheduled for 22 March 2019, while Godzilla Vs. Kong stomps in on 22c May 2020. We can only imagine that the clash between the pair comes when Kong arrives to inform Godzilla that there can be only one king of the monsters, and since he traditionally has it as part of his name, it is him.

Brown, meanwhile, will be back on screens as Stranger Things' Eleven later this year.

Ethan Hawke and Noomi Rapace set to star in heist thriller Stockholm

You may have heard of the psychological phenomenon known as Stockholm Syndrome but do you know the event that gave it that name? It is a story set to be explored in new heist thriller Stockholm, starring Ethan Hawke (Boyhood) and Noomi Rapace (Prometheus).

Robert Budreau (Born To Be Blue) is set to write write and direct the film, taking his inspiration from Daniel Lang's 1974 New Yorker article The Bank Drama. It chronicled how, in 1973, a group of robbers took hostages in a Stockholm bank, only for those under threat to bond with their captors and turn against the authorities

"Stockholm will offer moviegoers a raw glimpse into intense events that transpired over four decades ago coining a psychological condition that still intrigues the world today," says Sierra/Affinity's Jonathan Kier. "With Robert's creative direction coupled with Ethan and Noomi's tremendous talents, we are certain audiences around the globe will be captivated by this thrilling true story."

Budreau should have cameras rolling in April.

New trailer for Headshot arrives online

Vertical Entertainment have recently released their latest trailer for Kimo Stamboel (Macabre) and Timo Tjahjanto's (V/H/S/2) Headshot.

Directed by Kimo Stamboel and Timo Tjahjanto, Headshot finds Iko Uwais (The Raid) as Ismail, a man who wakes up from an injury with chunks of his memory missing. He is nursed back to health by a young woman who he falls for, but that burgeoning relationship is shoved into jeopardy by the discovery that he is both a trained killer and has to battle a drug cartel.

Expect all the Indonesian brawling action you could hope for, alongside plenty of inventive ways to dispatch bad guys.

Headshot is out in cinemas now.

New one sheet for The Lost City Of Z arrives online

StudioCanal have recently released their latest one sheet for James Gray's (We Own the Night) The Lost City Of Z.

Adapted from David Grann's nonfiction tome, The Lost City Of Z follows Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam), who headed into the Amazon on a mapping quest in 1925. There, suffering from a nasty case of malaria, he claimed to have discovered a mythical city he called the Lost City of Z. When his adventurer peers roundly mocked the idea as a fantasy or fraud, Fawcett gathered up his son and some other companions and headed back into the jungle to prove his point. And that is the last anyone saw of the party...

Edward Ashley (In The Heart Of The Sea) is Arthur Manley, a young corporal who accompanied Fawcett on his apparently doomed expedition. Robert Pattinson (Remember Me) is Henry Costin, another bored corporal who answered Fawcett's advertisement to become his aide-de-camp. Tom Holland (The Impossible) plays Fawcett's son Jack, while Sienna Miller (Stardust) is Fawcett's supportive wife, Nina. The trailer points to the adventure being a truly risky one, full of dangerous encounters with fauna and arrows.

The Lost City Of Z is out in cinemas now.

New IMAX one sheet for Kong: Skull Island arrives online

Warner Bros have recently released their IMAX one sheet for Jordan Vogt-Roberts (Kings Of Summer) Kong: Skull Island.

Given the film's 1970s setting, lush jungle landscapes and mission into the unknown story, it is not all that surprising that Kong: Skull Island is willing to play up comparisons to Apocalypse Now (1979), and this new one sheet certainly does.

Kong: Skull Island finds a group of explorers – including Tom Hiddleston (Thor: The Dark World), Brie Larson (The Spectacular Now), Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell (Straight Outta Compton), Samuel L. Jackson (Django Unchained), John Goodman (Argo) and John C. Reilly (Savages) – heading to the mysterious, misty island and encountering the titular giant ape.

With a script that has seen work by Max Borenstein (Godzilla), John Gatins (Real Steel), Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler) and Derek Connolly (Jurassic World), Kong: Skull Island is out in cinemas now.

First trailer and one sheet for Mad To Be Normal arrives online

GSP Studios International have recently released their first trailer and one sheet for Robert Mullan's (Letters To Sofija) Mad To Be Normal.

Despite the title sounding a little like a dodgy romantic comedy, it is actually a biopic of world renowned Scottish psychiatrist Ronald David Laing (David Tennant) and his colleagues at Kingsley Hall, East London in the 1960s. He pushed back against traditional theories of serious mental dysfunction, working from the idea that the expressed feelings of the individual patient or client were valid descriptions of lived experience rather than simply as symptoms of some separate or underlying disorder.

Writer and director Robert Mullan, who has written several books on the man, penned the script and is directing, and this one has been bubbling away in development even before it was announced at the Cannes Film Festival last year.

Tennant is joined in the main cast for this one by Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire (2005) co-star Michael Gambon, Elisabeth Moss (The One I Love), Gabriel Byrne (In Treatment) and David Bamber (The King's Speech), and will arrive in cinemas this Spring.

New trailer and one sheet for Beauty And The Beast arrives online

Walt Disney Pictures have recently released their final trailer and new one sheet for Bill Condon's (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn) Beauty And The Beast.

Bill Condon is directing Walt Disney Pictures' latest transformation of one of their beloved fairy tale animations to live action, with Emma Watson (The Perks Of Being A Wallflower) as Belle, the smart brave young woman who is sent to live with a monstrous beast (Dan Stevens). Naturally there are difficulties at first, but once we learn that the hairy creature is actually a cursed prince, the path is cleared for true love, romance and maybe a chance to reverse the evil spell.

Yet the path to happily ever after is littered with challenges, including a bitter, preening love rival in the shape of Gaston (Luke Evans) and winning over the Beast's talking furniture, including Ewan McGregor's (The Impossible) candlestick Lumiere and Ian McKellen's (The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug) clock Cogsworth.

With Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Belle), Stanley Tucci (The Hunger Games), Josh Gad (Love & Other Drugs) and Kevin Kline (The Last Of Robin Hood) also in the cast, Beauty And The Beast is out in cinemas now.

First look at Ocean's Eight arrives online

The Ocean's franchise first started back in 1960 with Lewis Milestone Ocean's 11, a heist movie full of impeccably well-dressed, attractive men. A remake then came in 2001 with a new bunch of impeccably well-dressed, attractive men. Now it is the turn of Ocean's Eight and a spin-off heist movie full of impeccably well-dressed, attractive women. Warner Bros have released our first official look at the new gang.

Click here for a closer look

Looking suitably classy and cool, even on public transport – these are very much a higher class of criminal – the eight women who make up the gang are, from left to right, Sandra Bullock (Gravity) as Debbie Ocean (estranged sister of George Clooney's Danny Ocean), Cate Blanchett (The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button) as Lou, Rihanna (Battleship) as Nine Ball, Mindy Kaling (The Office) as Amita, Awkwafina (Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising) as Constance, Helena Bonham Carter (The King's Speech) as Rose, Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables) as Daphne Kluger and Sarah Paulson (Carol) as Tammy. We can also expect to see Matt Damon's Linus Caldwell, albeit as a cameo.

Seen here on the New York City subway, the impeccably well-dressed, attractive criminals will attempt to pull off the 'heist of the century' at the star studded Met Gala.

Gary Ross (The Hunger Games) is overseeing the new movie, which he co-wrote with Olivia Milch and has been developing alongside Ocean's trilogy director Steven Soderbergh, who will act as producer.

With James Corden (Into The Woods), Richard Armitage (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey) and Damian Lewis (Homeland) in the cast, Ocean's Eight will arrive in cinemas 8 June next year.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

New trailer for Jawbone arrives online

Vertigo Films have recently released their first trailer for Thomas Napper's (Atonement) feature debut Jawbone.

The comeback story is a common one in boxing, and new drama Jawbone is looking to bring an even harder hitting edge to it.

Johnny Harris (Snow White And The Huntsman) writes the script and stars here as Jimmy McCabe, who was a youth boxing champion. But with his life well and truly on the ropes thanks to drink and other problems, he has hit rock bottom. So he turns to the one place he has left – his childhood boxing gym and the people who work there.

Owner Bill (Ray Winstone), corner man Eddie (Michael Smiley) and promoter Joe (Ian McShane) set him up with a potential one-off fight to help get him back on track, but, faced with a new, young contender and his own problems, can Jimmy stand tall again?

With regular second unit director Thomas Napper stepping up to direct, boxing consultation from Barry McGuigan and a soundtrack by Paul Weller, Jawbone premiered at the Glasgow Film Festival on 25 February and is out in cinemas now.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

New image of Henry Cavill in Sand Castle arrives online

For his next role, Henry Cavill (Man Of Steel) is swapping his Superman cape for some army camo. Sand Castle sees Cavill thick of beard and short of hair, starring as gruff military man Captain Syverson, opposite Nicholas Hoult's (Mad Max:Fury Road) cipher Matt Ocre, at the height of the Iraq war. A new image of Cavill in character has arrived online via Empire magazine.

Based on screenwriter Chris Roessner's own experiences of Iraq, Sand Castle will offer a frontline view of life and death on the ground when it is released on Netflix in the spring. "It's a war film," explains director Fernando Coimbra (A Wolf At The Door), "but it's more about Ocre's experiences, and the motivations of these guys. You read interviews with soldiers in these conflict zones and they don't even understand why they're really there."

Michelle Williams joins Jonah Hill's directorial debut

She recently earned her fourth Academy Award® nomination thanks to her blistering supporting turn in Manchester By The Sea (2016), and Michelle Williams is now looking towards a future job. News arrives via Deadline that she is in negotiations to join Jonah Hill's (The Wolf Of Wall Street) directorial debut, Mid-90s.

Hill wrote the coming-of-age tale and has won the chance to direct it for producer Scott Rudin (No Country For Old Men) and production company A24. As the title might suggest, the film sees a boy named Stevie learning life lessons in Los Angeles in the 1990s, spending time with his skateboarding friends and navigating the tricky waters of drinking, drugs, sex and peer pressure on the edge of his teenage years.

Assuming she closes a deal, Williams will play Stevie's mother, raising her son alone in the unforgiving city. Hill is scheduled to kick off shooting in June, but before that, Williams will star in a Janis Joplin biopic.

And in terms of her next on screen work, she will be seen in Todd Haynes' (I'm Not There) Wonderstruck and has been shooting The Greatest Showman opposite Hugh Jackman (The Wolverine), which is due for release on 5 January next year.

"You can't get so hung up on where you'd rather be, that you forget to make the most of where you are."

Passengers arrives with a cargo hold laden with expectation. Jon Spaihts' (Prometheus) script had been knocking around on the Black List of the best unproduced screenplays for the best part of a decade, and after flirting with different stars and directors over the years (Reese Witherspoon and Keanu Reeves were once attached as the leads), the film arrives with the names of arguably two of today's biggest stars above the title – Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt, whose eight figure salaries have been well documented.

So was the destination worth the journey? Well, like the corkscrewing spaceship at its centre, Passengers is slick, hi-tech and easy on the eye. But there is not a whole lot happening on board.

The story begins on the starship Avalon, 30 years into its 120 year voyage to Homestead II, a colony planet that the ship's 5,000 passengers will soon be calling home. But a piece of meteorite blasts through the ship's shield and causes a cascade of system failures leads, shorting out the suspended animation pod occupied by Jim Preston (Chris Pratt), a mechanic en route to a fresh start.

As the ship's artificial intelligence systems try to acclimatise him to his new living situation, he soon becomes distraught when he learns he is the only person awake, and he has got approximately 90 years to kill before he arrives at his destination.

Jim rattles around the empty luxury liner, exhausting the entertainment and dining options and growing an impressive beard, before he starts to become suicidally lonely.

It is at this point – through a plot contrivance that has been kept hidden from the trailers, which we won't spoil here – he acquires a fellow pod companion, writer Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence), a sleeping beauty who is similarly freaked out when she wakes in her busted pod. The two hang out, shoot the breeze and make plans for survival. And, naturally, begin to fall in love. All the while, various parts of the ship are glitching out.

It is certainly an intriguing premise, and the not too distant future technology is brought to life via some sharp digital effects. As near futures go, it feels somewhat familiar – all screens are semi-transparent, virtual reality assistants are oppressively chirpy, synthetic food is served by vending machine – but it is impressively realised.

Throughout the first half, interesting ideas abound. What kind of person relocates to a place that takes generations to get to? Who exactly is getting rich from the colonisation of Homestead II? And most importantly, how long will it be until we can have android bar staff like the duteous Arthur (Michael Sheen)?

While many questions are posed, Passengers' mysteries don't always lead to satisfying reveals. Director Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game) puts the romance up front, and while he is happy to liberally scatter cine-literate references throughout – can anyone see a revolving spaceship corridor and not think of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) or hypersleep pods and Alien (1979)? – Passengers lacks the richness and complexities of the genre's strongest offerings. Appearing so soon on the heels of the superior Arrival (2016), and even the latest thought provoking series of Black Mirror, it feels somewhat slight.

Lawrence and Pratt are among the most charismatic performers working today, and their natural likeability lends a boost to what are woefully underwritten roles. Pratt, in particular, has his work cut out to ensure that Jim doesn't come across as creepy in light of some questionable behaviour.

The couple's chemistry may not quite have the crackle of the likes of Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling (La La Land), but they certainly make a pleasing pairing on screen – the idea of spending 90 years with either of them isn’t an objectionable one.

There is a humour and lightness to much of their interaction, even if the characters don't rank alongside either actor's most memorable – Jim lacks his usual roguish charm, and Lawrence's glassy turn isn't up there with her most engaging. Michael Sheen, meanwhile, lends terrific support, nailing his mannequin bartender's ersatz humanity. Part relationship counsellor, part conscience and occasionally a necessary plot device, Sheen's Arthur injects a welcome third perspective, breaking into the lovers' self-interest and laying bare their flaws – which are more than just passing.

With the actors doing enough to keep you invested, and a steady supply of visually impressive set-pieces maintaining the pace, Passengers offers plenty of in-flight entertainment for its two-hour running time, even if it can't match the tension of the similarly themed space survival saga, The Martian (2015).

Its main problem, in fact, is that while it is perfectly enjoyable in itself, it is always reminding you of slightly better films that it doesn't quite live up to. As science fiction, it feels like a professionally produced hybrid that lacks its own identity. As a romance, it never fully earns your investment. For those reasons, it seems destined to pass smoothly by without making much of a lasting impact.

Passengers never quite delivers on its concept, or the prospect of its stellar pairing.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

New batch of one sheets for John Wick: Chapter 2 arrive online

Warner Bros have recently released a fresh batch of striking one sheets for Chad Stahelski's John Wick (2014) sequel John Wick: Chapter 2.

Chapter 2 finds Keanu Reeves' Wick forced fully back out of retirement when a former associate plots to seize control of the shadowy international assassins' guild. Bound by a blood oath to help him, John travels to Rome, but soon learns there is a price on his head and must square off against some of the world's deadliest killers.

Ian McShane and Lance Reddick are back for this one, and the cast also includes Common (Now You See Me), Laurence Fishburne (Contagion), John Leguizamo (Moulin Rouge!) and Ruby Rose (Orange Is The New Black).

John Wick: Chapter 2 is out in cinemas now.