Haven’t Seen the Film, Haven’t Read the Comic: Sony Buys Comic “Descender” Before it Hits the Shelves

So I don’t know if you noticed, but space is getting cool again in Hollywood. Going off-world to  make a mainstream film has always been a trend that goes in peaks and troughs, riding on the waves made by 2001Apollo 13 and Armageddon and then fizzling out after a year or two.  Most recently, Gravity and Interstellar have ushered in the latest wave, making themselves all the more prominent in the ongoing award circus. Now we have word from Deadline tat Sony has bought the rights to sci-fi comic book with the hopes of riding that wave a little while longer. The worry? This comic hasn’t even been released yet.

Descender (not to he confused with ongoing space TV show Ascension) follows the interstellar journey of a childlike robot named TIM-21, who is seeking out a new life and a new home for himself somewhere in the universe, only to be hated and hunted by most of the people living in it. Why? Because something in TIM-21’s DNA holds the secret to the origin of a certain robot species that may have wiped out a whole lot of life on a whole lot of planets. Fortunately, the little robotic dickens doesn’t have to face this aggression alone, and cobbles together an unlikely group of buddies to help him on his travels.

A poster for "Descender". We won't be seeing a movie poster for quite a while, though.
A poster for “Descender”. We won’t be seeing a movie poster for quite a while, though.

The comic is put together by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen, who would have gotten a serious shock when they got a movie option before their comic is even in stores. Lemire and Nguyen had this to say:

“It was a competitive situation for Descender, and we are thrilled that it ended with Sony Pictures acquiring the series…We know that their film translation will do justice to the original comics, and we are thrilled with their belief in the franchise potential.”

Competitive eh? Must be one hell of a comic. This is a bold move for Sony, but with so many unique and unusual projects changing hands and getting sold at Sundance this year, it’s unlikely that Sony would pass up the chance to get in on that market. I’m not saying that Descender will be an indie film, but it will definitely be different.

The whole thing sounds sweet and sprawling and unlike any mainstream sci-fi films out there (usually the adorable robot has some ongoing connection to earth). You can find out more about it when the comic actually arrives on March 4th from Image comics. Josh Bratman is set to produce the film for Sony.

Are you down with Descender?

Kristin Wiig Strikes it Lucky With “Welcome To Me”

Let’s be honest…heartfelt indie comedies and Will Ferrell/Adam McKay engine Gary Sanchez Productions don’t really go together. But fortunately Kristin Wiig and heartfelt indie comedies go together like Chris Pratt and commercially productive weight loss. Harsh? Maybe, but this isn’t about you Chris Pratt!

The project I’m dancing around is Welcome To Me, which sees Wiig as a socially blank woman who happens to win about $90 million and wants to do something big with it. So she buys herself a talk show and puts her small personality on the small screen. The plot is mad and Wiig looks adorably whacky as the lead, so have a look for yourself, courtesy of Film Divider at Vimeo.

Welcome To Me looks to turn the traditional awkward-indie-girl set-up on its head and Wiig is a dependable set of shoulders on which to set that responsibility. So before she gets involved with the Ghostbusters reboot alongside Bridesmaids star Melissa McCarthy it will be a treat to see her help Gary Sanchez Productions open up some new comedic channels.

They’ve had a couple of misses with female-led comedies with titles like Bachelorette and the imploding Tammie, but this looks to be a far stronger contender. Directed by Shira Piven, the film also stars James Marsden, We Bentley, Joan Cusack and Tim Robbins as Wiig’s combative therapist.

 

You’re Welcome: “Fantastic Four” Gets its First Trailer

It’s long overdue, but we finally have it. An official trailer for Josh Trank‘s reboot of Fantastic Four has been released courtesy of 20th Century Fox. The film has been under a considerable amount of scrutiny since it wrapped up production six odd months months ago, with rumours of script issues and studio contrition making up only a small percentage of the toxic atmosphere.

But that’s how people tend to get when a film is on marketing lock-down – they get antsy, and sometimes they get mean. But like the pain of childbirth being followed by the memory-wiping euphoria of post-birth (that’s as much as I know about pregnancy), we have our trailer and we’ve forgotten all about how angry we were at Josh Trank. Anywho, let’s have a look at the trailer. Watch out for some revealing silhouettes at 1:35, not to mention Storm vs Storm at 1:19:

Hey, that wasn’t bad at all. There’s definitely still a lot of mystique around this latest incarnation of the first family of Marvel, not to mention more questions than ever. But it’s a start, and a damn good start. If you’d like to get a  better idea of what the project’s going to be like, here’s a portion from an interview Trank did with Collider:

“This isn’t like The Avengers. Even when the first Avengers came out, there were four other movies that people were familiar with. The suits and the tone and the look and the feel. So they could release those things or drop them on Twitter. With Simon on the X-Men movies, there were other movies that came before the last X-Men movie so Bryan [Singer] could feel more confident in tweeting teases of what’s to come. But this movie, we really want the audience to have the proper reaction to this material seeing it for the first time. You’ve really got to put your best foot forward. You can’t just leak an image to strike up a conversation. You want people to see something that has thought behind it. And the teaser should do just that. With conversations online, you can’t really control it. In this day and age people have come to expect that artists are going to give everybody information on Twitter about what they’re doing, but not every artist is like that. I’m not really like that. If I was painting a picture I wouldn’t want to take a picture of a single paint stroke. I’d rather show people what it looks like when it’s done.”

It’s fair to say that Trank is a man on a mission, and it’s not an easy mission. Hopefully the Chronicle director can pull it off. Excelsior!

Fantastic Four stars Miles Teller as Reed Richards / Mr. Fantastic, Kate Mara as Sue Storm / Invisible Woman, Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm / Human Torch, Jamie Bell as Ben Grimm / The Thing.

Do you want some more of the Four?

Daniel Bruhl to Play Baron Zemo in “Civil War”

There’s been rumours flying all over the place about Daniel Bruhl and the part he will play in the Marvel Universe since his name was attached to the Studio late last year. Well the answer has finally revealed itself as io9 reports the Rush actor will play Captain America’s nemesis Baron Zemo in Captain America: Civil War.

What? You don’t know who Baron Zemo is? You think he sounds like the name of a disappointing brand of German wine? Relax – for a very important villain, he’s not that well known. He’s most commonly seen going toe to toe with the cap. An advanced weapons builder strongly connected with the Nazis in World War 2 and world domination by the master race, it would be very easy to confuse this dude with Captain America villain the Red Skull, played by Hugo Weaving. The main difference? Baron Zemo wears a hood. All the time. Seriously, it’s glued onto his face with a super-strong adhesive that he created and Captain America used against him.

But don’t worry, there doesn’t necessarily need to be a whole bunch of flash backs and cryo-freezing to bring this villain into the modern day. Like most comic book heroes and villains, Zemo has multiple incarnations including a son who succeeds his father. The son also has significant ties to the Marvel Civil War storyline, having recruited villains to fight for Iron Man and promote the registration of super-heroes. Whether or not this is the way the film is going to go is uncertain – despite the film having “Civil War” in the title, we can’t be sure how faithful it will be to the comics. In any case, Zemo would have a lot of information about Captain America’s past should Tony Stark want to use it against him.  Also, Sebastian Stan is confirmed to be returning as the Winter Soldier, so could the two be working together?

Baron Zemo getting some stuff off his chest in a tousle with Captain America
Baron Zemo getting some stuff off his chest in a tousle with Captain America

This would be Daniel Bruhl’s second turn as a Nazi, having played a German war hero in Quentin Tarantino‘s Inglorious Basterds. Garnering critical acclaim for films like Rush, A Most Wanted Man and The Fifth Estate, this will be Bruhl’s first baby step into the Marvel universe. Let’s hope he pulls it off – it’s a big hood to fill. Captain America: Civil War is scheduled to be released on May 6, 2016.

Adam Sandler’s “Ridiculous 6” Refuses to Die, Moves to Netflix and Gets a Cast

Netflix has become a very multi-faceted creature over the years, and one of the results of its bold move into movie-making is that it serves as a foothold for films that have been tossed out of the window by studios. The benefit of this new side-channel is that projects that would otherwise be deemed not commercial enough or simply not worth the money to produce have a second chance at being seen. The disadvantage however is that films that maybe don’t need to get made get made all the same. According to The Wrap, the latest film to be taken on by Netflix is The Ridiculous 6, Adam Sandler‘s Western comedy. The film was originally set up with Sony and Paramount but deals were never finalised. It’s up to you whether you see The Ridiculous 6 as a film that should or shouldn’t be made; either way, it is happening.

Although it sounds like a poorly titles pre-prequel to Tarantino’s upcoming Hateful EightThe Ridiculous 6 is more of a straight mick-take of old-style Westerns, which probably won’t make for any particularly new subject matter. Netflix have signed Sandler up for a four-deal contract. Whilst this might suggest that Netflix have a l;ot of faith in the movie, they might alternatively appreciate the lowest-common-denominator appeal of Sandler’s comedy. Am I still being impartial? Who cares.

We also have a potential cast list for the film, which could include a lot of familiar names: Steve Buscemi, Rob Schneider, Dan Aykroyd, Will Forte, Nick Swardson, Terry Crews, Jon Lovitz and Vanilla Ice, all of whom have previously appeared in Happy Madison productions. Since then, most of them have moved on to better and more popular things, so maybe the film has something going for it. The cast also allegedly includes Taylor Lautner, Nick Nolte, Blake Shelton and Whitney Cummings.

Class reunion: Lovitz, Buscemi, Schneider and Ice have all worked with Sandler on previous projects.
Class reunion: Lovitz, Buscemi, Schneider and Ice have all worked with Sandler on previous projects.

Here’s how The Wrap describes the plot of the film, according to insiders: Sandler will play man who grew up as an orphan among an Indian tribe. Lautner, Schneider, Wilson and Crews are poised to play his half-brothers, while the final half-brother has yet to be cast.

This four-film deal with Netflix won’t include any of Sandler’s upcoming project that are already in the works, such as Hotel Transylvania 2 or PixelsWe’ll most likely be hearing the details of the other projects in the coming months.

Since standard Westerns aren’t really part of the mainstream film landscape anymore and Seth McFarlane’s  A Million Ways To Die In The West polarised audiences so dramatically, there is a definite question as to whether a Western comedy is a sound investment. Hopefully the strong cast will fill any potential gaps in the script or the comedy.

Are you ready to get ridiculous?

 

 

Tarantino’s “Hateful Eight” Gets a Familiar Supportive Cast

It’s no secret that Quentin Tarantino likes to re-use a lot of the actors he’s used in previous films of his career. And why not? He’s gotten some pretty fantastic performances out of them in the past, so I can’t see why he wouldn’t want. Not only that, I’m sure the same actors would be just as excited to come back and work with the director again. Well along with a main cast of regulars and irregulars and irregulars, Screenrant has reported that a supporting cast list has also been released – and it has a similar high-school reunion feel to it.

There’s no word on who the supporting actors will be playing in the western that will see bounty hunters Kurt Russel and Samuel L Jackson run into each-other on a wintry Wyoming road, only to set a dangerous rolling stone set in motion. But the majority of them are old Tarantino favourites nonetheless. Here’s the list of actors and the previous QT films they’ve can be seen in:

Zoë Bell (Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2)
James Parks (Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2)
Dana Gourrier (Django Unchained)
Keith Jefferson (Django Unchained)
Lee Horsley (Django Unchained)
Craig Stark (Django Unchained)
Belinda Owino (Django Unchained)
Gene Jones

Seeing Double Zoe Bell and Uma Thurman: on the set of "Kill Bill, Vol. 1".
Seeing Double Zoe Bell and Uma Thurman: on the set of “Kill Bill, Vol. 1”.

In case the name Zoë Bell  isn’t brining a face to mind, it’s because Bell is a stunt-actor who worked as Uma Thurman’s double on the Kill Bill double. Final name Gene Jones doesn’t have a Tarantino flick to his name but he has starred in No Country for Old Men and Oz the Great and Powerful.

As supporting casts go it’s dependable and rock-solid, so hopefully we’ll see an awesome performance from all of them. Lord knows they’ve got enough experience between them.

What think you of the supporting cast for Hateful Eight? Any other familiar Tarantino names you would have liked to see?

“X-Men Apocalypse”: Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan and Alexandra Shipp for Jean Grey, Cyclops and Storm

After Oscar Isaac revealed to the world that his performance as the monstrous, villainous titular villain Apocalypse in the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse would involve some form of CGI, we were immediately to learn some other news about the project. And by other news, I mean real news. Not to berate Isaac in any way, but lets see him and Apocalypse side by side:

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Yeah, I’d say some CGI would be useful. But forget about all that because some more news has come down the pipeline in the form of an official cast list! Not every member of the mutant team has been assembled cast-wise as yet (that we know of), but we do have word from director Bryan Singer himself that Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan and Alexandra Shipp will play Jean Grey, Cyclops and Storm respectively in X-Men Apocalypse.

So where do we know these guys from? All over the place really, but let’s start with Turner. You’ll most likely know her best as the ever-so-slightly moody Stark daughter Sansa on Game of Thrones. Other film work includes Another Me in 2013 and a couple of projects this year Barely Lethal and Alone. However, it’s fair to say that despite it’s far-off release of May 27th, 2016, her part as the psychic Jean Grey in X-Men might either overshadow or potentially boost her work in 2015.

sophie_turner_tye_sheridan_and_alexandra_shipp

Storm, Jean Grey and Cyclops, exactly as they will appear in "X-Men: Apocalypse".
Storm, Jean Grey and Cyclops, exactly as they will appear in “X-Men: Apocalypse”.

Next up is Alexandra Shipp, who will be whipping up some wind and lightening as weather controller Storm. Shipp’s gotten a fir dose of acclaim for her part TV show House of Anubis as KT Rush, and like Turner she also has a few films under her belt. Granted, one of them Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel but she did star in Drumline: A New Beat which didn’t have any chipmunks in it at all.

Finally, optic-blasting Cyclops will be re-introduced on the big screen by Tye Sheridan. Sheridan is currently working on The Stanford Prison Experiment alongside fellow superhero-portrayer Billy Crudup, who played Dr Manhattan in Watchmen. Sheridan has also had roles in Tree of Life and Mud.

Other than  Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult, Jennifer Lawrence and Evan Peters, who have already confirmed they will be reprising their roles from the previous two films, Isaac is the only other new cast member to be announced. Hopefully we’ll be getting more news on the project as the film begins filming later this year.

What do you think of the casting choice? Watch this space for all the latest X-Men Apocalypse movie news.

Stay With Me Here: “Finders Keepers” Doc Trailer Sees Custody Battle Over a Leg

2015 has been an amazing year for documentaries even this early in the game: so many accomplished and upcoming film-makers with hard-hitting projects that tackle difficult and at times dangerous subject matter. It’s only inevitable that documentaries like The Hunting Ground and Batkid will find their way to Sundance. But that’s not the end of it, oh no. There is another incredible documentary that has found its way into the festival. Well, incredible may be an abbreviation of incredibly weird. Finders Keepers is one of the many films competing in the U.S. Documentary Competition. What sets it apart from the rest? It tells the story of a custody battle over a severed human leg. You heard me right. Before I say anything else, have a look at the trailer, fresh from Deadline. Go on, I double dare you!

You would be entirely forgiven for thinking this was fake. Even the trailer plays out a little like a mockumentary. But it’s all true. The film is directed by Bryan Carberry and Clay Tweel, two men who are also famous for having the coolest names in the world…at least by my reckoning. The battle over the leg comes down to two men: Shannon Whisnant, the one who found the leg in a barbecue that he bought at an auction; and John Wood, the guy who was originally attached to it and got separated from it in a plane crash. The film will premiere on January 27th at the MARC in Park City.

If you want to find out more about the film and the battle for a long lost leg, you can check out the Finders Keepers page on…wait for it…Kickstarter.

Watch Out! It’s Dangerous! The Blob is Being Remade!

What do monstrous ooze “The Blob” and a modern day adaptation of The Blob movie have in common? They both have the potential to be serious disasters.

Yes, it’s apparently happening. Firstshowing reports that the 1950’s B-Movie jelly mix will be invading our theatres once again in the not too distant future. But who could be behind such a crazy concept. Why, none other than Con-Air and Expendables 2 director Simon West.

The original film, also known as The Molten Meteor, was released in 1958 and directed by Irvin Yeawort. The film saw a huge wobbly mucus creature hell-bent on engulfing an entire town, with only Steve McQueen and a bizarre plot to stand in its way.

On the subject of a Blob sequel, West said this:

“With modern CGI we can now fully realize the potential of The Blob. The world I create will be totally believable, immersive and emotionally satisfying.”

Haunting, truly haunting. But West couldn’t pull off such a crazy scheme on his own, oh no! Richard Saperstein and Brian Witten will be producing the project which is apparently going to start shooting in the summer, and producer of the original film Jack Harris will have an executive producer credit. He’s 96 by the way. Yeah.

The original creature from "The Blob" (1958) in all his gelatinous glory.
The original creature from “The Blob” (1958) in all his gelatinous glory.

On the subject of why the hell they would be doing this, Saperstein and Witten had this to say for themselves:

“We grew up on The Blob. Simon West has a terrific and terrifying vision for bringing this iconic outer-space creature to life for a new generation.”

Well, you can’t say fairer than that. There is of course a chance that could turn out to be a very funny, self-indulgent sort of project, provided the producers and director don’t take the whole thing quite as seriously as they’re suggesting. What we do have to consider is that if this does work out and the film’s a hit, we’re opening up a whole archive of B-Movie’s to remakes and modern adaptations. This could be a good thing, but it could also be very, very bad.

Still, good luck to West and his team of mad geniuses. I look forward to seeing the kind of damage a Blob made entirely of CGI can do.

Do you dare face The Blob?

Jake Gyllenhaal the Latest to Pass on Rick Flag and “Suicide Squad”

Oh Suicide Squad. Your flame burnt so bright, but for so a short a time. Truly pride comes before a fall. Is that too dramatic? Well you have to admit that the DC/ Warner Bros. project has hit a sort of speed bump. After such a strong showing a few months ago with a full main cast list, we got word earlier this month that Tom Hardy had left the project, leaving the role of Rick Flag open. Director David Ayer had his sights set on Jake Gyllenhaal for the role, but Slash Film is now reporting that the star of 2014 breakout Nightcrawler has said no to the role as well.

Rick Flag, as he might have been: Tom Hardy turned down the role earlier this month.
Rick Flag, as he might have been: Tom Hardy turned down the role earlier this month.

Now to be fair, there was nothing particularly concrete connecting Gyllenhaal to the project, apart from Ayer’s word that he was heavily courting the actor with whom he had previously collaborated successfully on End of Watch. Clearly, however, Ayer is a better director than he is a date. Either that, or Gyllenhaal is giving himself some breathing room to pick his next few projects more selectively. After such an amazing performance in Nightcrawler,  Gyllenhaal is going body-mod with boxing project Southpaw and will most likely be looking for similarly serious projects to prove that Nightcrawler wasn’t a fluke. Let’s face it, as financially and commercially tantalising as superhero movies may be on either side of the DC/Marvel fence, they’re not for everybody – certainly not for every actor.

Jake Gyllenhaal's big transformation from "Nightcrawler" (right) to "Southpaw" (left)
Jake Gyllenhaal’s big transformation from “Nightcrawler” (right) to “Southpaw” (left)

Although there is a more practical explanation for both refusals: there are reports that Hardy’s current project The Revenant, is going over schedule, and if he follows that up with promotions for the summer release of Mad Max: Fury Road, there may just not be room for Suicide Squad. As for Gyllenhaal, he’s recently gone the Bradley Cooper route and started in a role on Broadway, so he may be too busy treading the boards to get caught in a potentially ongoing DC contract.

Other than that, the film is still moving on as scheduled, with Spring shooting plans and a August 5, 2016 release date unchanged. Let’s hope everything runs smoothly from here on out.