Category Archives: Blog

The Prodigal Son’s Return: Spider-Man Moves to Marvel Studios

Ok, lets check the pool, who had February?

Under a deal, the never-before seen, brand new (hopefully more popular) Spider-Man will now appear in a Marvel film from Marvel’s Cinematic Universe (MCU) – my guess would be Civil War. Sony Pictures will then release the next instalment of its almost $4 billion Spider-Man franchise, on July 28, 2017, in a film that will be co-produced by ever fan-boys dream man Kevin Feige and his box office-smashing  team at Marvel.

Together, they will decide on a new creative direction for the famous web-slinger. Sony Pictures will continue to finance, distribute, own and have final creative control of the Spider-Man films, but it’s likely at this point that Marvel will be taking the brunt of the brainstorming work since it’s their world and Spider-Man’s gonna live in it.

Marvel and Sony Pictures are also finally exploring opportunities to integrate characters from the MCU into future Spider-Man-only films.

spiderman-cakes-youtube
We sent this to Sony Pictures this morning. Too soon?

The new relationship follows a decade of speculation/rumour and human sacrafice among fans about whether Spider-Man – who has always been seen as an important part of the larger MCU – could finally become part of the Marvel Universe on the big screen.

As you can imagine the studios have gone a little nuts with press releases. Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company said: “Spider-Man is one of Marvel’s great characters, beloved around the world. We’re thrilled to work with Sony Pictures to bring the iconic web-slinger into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which opens up fantastic new opportunities for storytelling and franchise building.”
“We always want to collaborate with the best and most successful filmmakers to grow our franchises and develop our characters. Marvel, Kevin Feige and Amy, who helped orchestrate this deal, are the perfect team to help produce the next chapter of Spider-Man,” said Michael Lynton, Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment. “This is the right decision for the franchise, for our business, for Marvel, and for the fans.”

“Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios share a love for the characters in the Spider-Man universe and have a long, successful history of working together. This new level of collaboration is the perfect way to take Peter Parker’s story into the future,” added Doug Belgrad, president, Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group.

"The Amazing Spider-Man 2" grossed $709 million despite a considerable critical bollocking.
“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” grossed $709 million despite a considerable critical bollocking.

On the Marvel side of the fence, Feige said “I am thrilled to team with my friends at Sony Pictures along with Amy Pascal to produce the next Spider-Man movie…Marvel’s involvement will hopefully deliver the creative continuity and authenticity that fans demand from the MCU. I am equally excited for the opportunity to have Spider-Man appear in the MCU, something which both we at Marvel, and fans alike, have been looking forward to for years.”

Spider-Man, is the most successful franchise in the history of Sony Pictures, with the five films having taken in more than $4 billion worldwide.

Marvel’s Middle-Child: What are we Going to do with The Incredible Hulk?

Between all of the phases  we have seen in Marvel’s universe and the 10 or so Marvel Studios movies we will be seeing in the next few years, it seems as though every hero with movie potential has been accounted for and is being accommodated into the ongoing continuity. But as can be the the case when parents have a large number of children, sometimes kids can be left out or forgotten from time to time. In the Marvel family, that child is The Incredible Hulk. Sure, he’s one of the older kids and he developed early, but one too many slip-ups and he’s just not a priority anymore when you’re picking where everyone’s going out to eat on Sunday night. Nowadays, the not-so-jolly green giant is one of the only characters in the Marvel Universe who has been deliberately demoted to an ensemble player.

To be fair, Hulk has had his fair share of chances. First there was Ang Lee’s Hulk, which with perfect hindsight was never going to work in the current continuity – if only for it’s soft and at times quiet intensity. There were teasers and posters and famous actors galore but in the end it didn’t wow the kids, and that matters. So Hulk peaked too soon, so what? That sort of thing can easily be remedied with a reboot. Dump damaged Eric Bana and morose Jennifer Connelly and give us Edward Norton and…Liv Tyler, as a physicist? Really? Ok, whatever. Well Louis Leterrier was directing with a few Transporter  films under his belt, so balls-out action wouldn’t be a problem. No, the problem was once again timing. The Incredible Hulk hit theatres a month after Iron Man. In a direct comparison – and be honest, how could there not be in such a small time span? – Hulk just couldn’t cut it. Also, Liv Tyler was supposed to be a physicist. Just saying, it’s weird.

Eric Bana as Ang Lee's Hulk-on-a-journey...no he can't fly
Eric Bana as Ang Lee’s Hulk-on-a-journey…no he can’t fly
Edward Norton's darker, almost demonic-looking hulk. More of a pastel green to bring out his eyes.
Edward Norton’s darker, almost demonic-looking hulk. More of a pastel green to bring out his eyes.

So we have one Hulk film that went for critical acclaim and lost popular appeal, and a second film that opted for action and lost to Iron Man. The continuity for the reboot could have been salvaged if talks hadn’t broken down with Norton. Don’t get me wrong, Mark Ruffalo is an impeccable Banner, but where does that leave our favourite gamma-giant?

Looking back on it, it’s not hard to see why Marvel would be more than a little gun-shy with the Hulk property. Whether they like it or not, a Hulk movie would always be in direct comparison with another Marvel movie a few months before or after. Well we know for a fact that the risk isn’t planned for the next four or five years since Hulk didn’t make an appearance in the run-down of upcoming Marvel films. The question becomes, is it worth taking the risk again in the future?

There is a lot more working in Hulk’s favour now. For one, we have the makings of a Robert Downey Jr. factor with Mark Ruffalo. Say what you will about the popularity of Iron Man, if an actor even 10% less charismatic than Downey was wearing the suit then the glaring flaws in Iron Man 2  and Iron Man 3 may not have been so compassionately overlooked. The character is as popular as the actor, and that balance is what we could see in mark Ruffalo. Sure, he was a little quiet at times in The Avengers, but he got his hands dirty when it was needed and a fair few scenes were based entirely around him. When you compare how much attention and plot was shared out between Hulk and, say, Thor, it’s pretty even – maybe even a little more for Hulk.

Original cast announcement for "The Avengers"...will Hulk always be sandwiched in the middle?
Original cast announcement for “The Avengers”…will Hulk always be sandwiched in the middle?

 

And everyone loved Ruffalo as Banner, in many ways because is anti-Iron Man. A soft spoken, fidgety, unstable man with unmatchable power that is completely out of his control – a destroyer to Stark’s creator. So what we see happening is a bedrock being established that may not have as much money, love or attention behind it from Marvel as Iron Man does, but whether intended or not there’s a popularity that’s getting some muscle to it.

So a Ruffalo/Hulk film is definitely something that the audience wants to see. the question becomes how feasible it is. For one, expectations from story-lines are not what they used to be, back in the day, you could just have a dude with superpowers figuring stuff out and end it with a huge testosterone-charged fight. But with more films comes more variations, and with more variations comes more expectations for something new and daring. Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy have a similar team-up premise, but could they be more structurally different? And despite being the classic action hero, Captain America: The Winter Soldier was as much an espionage film as an action flick. Bottom line, you can pick any number of early Hulk story-lines and throw a dart at one and you’ll come up with a big green dude not wanting to be a big green dude and fighting against another big green dude. Or a green dude with a big head. And as much as we’d like to see a Planet Hulk film, what are the chances without a heck of a lot more foundation that just isn’t there?

Planet Hulk...yeah
Planet Hulk…yeah

Maybe it’s stupidly simple. Maybe it’s just Hulk’s affiliation with war and the justification of wild violence that Marvel just doesn’t want to probe to closely – unless he’s a cartoon where it’s easier to write off destruction. The phrase “today’s political climate” is one that I’d like to punch repeatedly in the face, but it’s something that a big studio has to have a ten minute conversation about every month. So is Hulk only a hero when he’s around other heroes who can point him in the right direction and tell him what to smash?

Bottom line, Hulk is the kid that Marvel just can’t deal with right now. They have to make sure that the more well behaved kids are eating right and have the support they need to get onto college. Once all the other kids have flown the nest and can make it on their own, then they can turn their attention to Hulk. Maybe by that point the landscape will be more accepting of alternative, darker story-lines in the Marvel continuity. It’s definitely going in that direction, so perhaps 7 or 8 years down the line, we’ll want to see banner when he’s angry.

 

 

Michael Keaton’s Christmas Message: “I’m Batman”

There are a lot of traditions that we look forward to during the Christmas season. One of my particular favourites – and I’m sure it’s one of yours – is an annual Christmas message from veteran actor and word-sayer Michael Keaton. This year, after such a flourish of success with nomination-magnet Birdman, I’ve been looking forward to how Keaton’s traditional Christmas speech reflects his experiences with a modern Hollwood. Now the wait is over, and during an interview Keaton’s Yuletide message was clear, powerful and succinct: “I’m Batman”.

Keaton’s Christmas messages have always been rich with distinctive themes that have run true over the decades of his successful acting career. Those themes include bats, men, batmen, cowls, capes, justice, and the Riddler being the worst kind of dick there is…a dick that tells riddles.

It’s around this time that I like to remember some of my favourite Keaton Christmas messages, and there are so many great moments to choose from. I remember the mesmerising 1988 classic “I’m going to be Batman”, 1990’s “I was Batman, and I’ll be Batman again”, 2000’s unforgettable “Wassuuuuup…I’m Batman” and of course 2012’s “I’m all of the Avengers…also Batman”. I have to say I’m a little surprised this time around: I was sure the message would be along the lines of “I’m Birdman”. But that’s what you get when you try to predict the unpredictable.

Michael Keaton’s dedication to bring such meaning to this dark, winter season, is truly inspirational. His words remind us that we too can be whatever we want to be as we approach the new year. That is of course unless you want to be Batman, because Keaton has made it pretty clear that he’s Batman.

Now that Keaton’s weaved his magic for 2014, all that is left to do is look forward to next year, and the Batman-oriented wisdom Christmas 2015 will surely bring.

If you would like to read the interview that inspired this piece of mania, you can read it here on Shortlist.

 

Darren Aronofsky to adapt homocide novel “The Good Nurse”

After going biblical on everyone’s ass with the visually spectacular Noah, I’ve been curious to see what director Darren Aronofsky will be choosing for his next project. Well now we have the answer – so it’s a good thing I wasn’t publicly asking this questioning a month ago, or I would have had nothing to write about.

According to the Tracking Board, Aronofsky’s next project is an adaptation of The Good Nurse, a novel written by Charles Graeber. The full title of the book is The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness and Murder, but Aronofsky’s had the good sense to go with less of a mouthful. The  book follows the life and arrest of registered nurse Charlie Cullen, who was dubbed ‘The Angel of Death’ for his implication in the deaths of as many as 300 patients. Oh, he also may have been the most prolific serial killer in American history.

The Good Nurse book cover...you couldn't pay me to go in there.
The Good Nurse book cover…you couldn’t pay me to go in there.

 

Still doesn’t sound very unique? That’s because what really makes the story of Charlie Cullen creepy is not his hideous murder spree, but more the way he was idolised by his friends and family for being – you guessed it – an angel. The novel also follows the efforts of two former homocide detectives who got to the bottom of the murders, and the fellow nurse who risked everything to aid the investigation.

As non-fiction novels go, it’s utterly chilling and wraps your head in the complexities of murderous, psychotic obsession. So hey, who better than Aronofsky to polish it into a feature? It’ll be a gas to see the Black Swan director return to something a little darker and mentally sinister.

Have you read The Good Nurse? Spoilers!

Force Post! “The Force Awakens” names names

Feel like a little bit Star Wars news to brighten up your day? Why wouldn’t you?

Word has come through from Entertainment Weekly that names of some of the characters in the latest Star Wars chapter have been revealed. This comes a good few weeks after the teaser trailer that broke every record on the planet.  With that in mind, what the heck am I waiting for? Here are the names!

  • BB-8, the ball droid
  • Poe Dameron, the X-wing pilot (Oscar Isaacs)
  • Kylo Ren, the mystery wielder of the “broad-saber”
  • Rey, the scavenger who was previously code-named “Kira” (Daisy Ridley)
  • Finn, a man “on the run” (John Boyega)

So we can finally put a few names to faces, in particular to the cyaracters played by John Boyega, Oscar Isaacs and Daisy Ridley. And we now have a name for the sinister sith with the controversial lightsaber! Granted we don’t know who’s playing him but that will all come in good time. At least we know what to call that crazy rolling droid.

Cast members yet to be named include Lupita Nyong’o, Gwendoline Christie, Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson, and Max von Sydow. Also, who is Harrison Ford gonna be playing? Just kidding, he’s like an orc or something right?

Is J.J. Abrams keeping you interested?

Dwayne Johnson to the rescue in pictures from “San Andreas”

My April 2015 is certainly looking up since I found I get to see Dwayne Johnson glistening once again in Furious 7 (It’s not weird, he uses the same body oil as me). But just in case you’re worried that one film about gear-head bank-robbers turned vigilantes simply won’t be enough to satiate your craving for some Johnson-driven action, then it will make you even happier to know that San Andreas, the Brad Peyton feature that sees Johnson’s fire-fighter work alongside his ex-wife (Carla Gugino) to save his daughter (Alexandra Daddario) after an earthquake, comes out a month afterwards. But I know what you’re thinking, you need a little something to keep you going until then. Well, you could always watch Hercules again. Ok sorry, that wounds still fresh. So how about some images from the upcoming San Andreas? I thought that’d work! here are the photos from USA Today:

Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino. The next photo is Johnson and a dismembered arm.
Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino. The next photo is Johnson and a dismembered arm.
Rock + Top Gun = Rock Gun
Rock + Top Gun = Rock Gun
Majestic, angelic...the only words I would ever use to describe Johnson
Majestic, angelic…the only words I would ever use to describe Johnson
Celebrating director Brad Peyton's birthday.
Celebrating director Brad Peyton’s birthday.
Dwayne Johnson's daily workout of balancing a helicoptor on a pole whilst in mid-air.
Dwayne Johnson’s daily workout of balancing a helicoptor on a pole whilst in mid-air.

All joking and ogling aside, the images are pretty standard and don’t promise much more than any Johnson action flick offers. But hopefully we’ll find out more with the inbound trailer.

Enough Dwayne Johnson for you?

The “Avengers:Age Of Ultron” Wesbite is up!

After its record for most viewed trailer of 2014 being blitzed by Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it’s no surprise that Avengers: Age Of Ultron is looking to gain back some of its hype. Well an Official Website can go some way to doing that. Well, I mean a full fifteen minutes of unseen footage could do the job a lot better, but hey I’m not greedy.

The site is really an offshoot of the Marvel website, so most of the links for videos, games and characters will take you out of Avengers territory and into general marvel-land. The teaser is up on the site, along with a decent enough synopsis for the film. It reads as follows:

Marvel Studios presents “Avengers: Age of Ultron”, the epic follow-up to the biggest super-hero movie of all time. When Tony Stark tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, including Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye, are put to the ultimate test as the fate of the planet hangs in the balance. As the villainous Ultron emerges, it is up to the Avengers to stop him from enacting his terrible plans, and soon uneasy alliances and unexpected action pave the way for an epic and unique global adventure.

Arguably the best new material that appears on the site is the soundtrack sample that plays in the background. It’s a far-cry from the Alan Silvestri orchestral flurries of Avengers Assemble , and is a handy nod to the techno-thriller edge of the sequel.

So what do you think of the site? What would you like to see on it next?

Toho to make new domestic “Godzilla” movie after 12 year gap

When Roland Emmerich‘s 1998 depiction of Godzilla came out, Japanese fans of the radioactive reptile were a little put out to say the least by the fact that the film seemed to be about Matthew Broderick having a romance with an enormous velocaraptor. With that in mind, it was a relief to see the seal of approval from Toho – the original Japanese company that started the franchise – on Garth Edwards‘ $200 million reboot last year. Was this because Legendary Pictures was in partnership with Toho during production, or because Edwards‘ representation was more faithful to the original rubber-suited building-tosser? Probably a bit of both. But in any case, the new American reboot and its considerable success has clearly sparked the Japanese company into action, with news from Variety that Toho will be relasing a domestic Godzilla film, a whole ten years after their last release!

While Toho is still involved in a contract with Legendary  for the franchise but, as an employee of Toho explained to THR, “The licensing contract we have with Legendary places no restrictions on us making domestic versions.” So there’s really nothing standing in their way. The timing is also ideal, as the employee went on to explain: “This is very good timing after the success of the American version this year: if not now, then when?”. This is a good point, especially considering that Japan will be hosting the Olympics in 2020, which is a decent reason to start increasing global appeal.

The last Godzilla film released by Toho was Godzilla: Final Wars, released in 2004 on big G’s 50th anniversary, and was the 29th film in the company’s hefty catalogue. The movies go all the way back to 1954 when the original Godzilla was released, directed by Ishiro Honda with Effects Director Eiji Tsuburaya. The pair would release four more in the franchise together and even more separately.

Not really relevant, just a reminder...this was not good.
Not really relevant, just a reminder…this was not good.

Producer Taichi Ueda will be at the helm of the project, scheduled for production in the summer 2015 for a 2016 release. Ueda explained that Toho would not be spending $200 million as Edwards and Legendary reportedly did, and that “The time has come for Japan to make a film that will not lose to Hollywood.” Ueda added that the character would hopefully “represent Japan and be loved around the world”.

So what’s more exciting: Edwards’ Godzilla sequel or Toho’s?

Crash Course: “Whiplash” Director Damien Chazelle discusses the creation of film

Did you know that the amazing movie Whiplash  is based on writer-director Damien Chazelle’s experiences as a young musician? Oh, you did? Well I didn’t.

The film starring J.K. Simmons and up-and-comer Miles Teller will most likely be a keen contender in Oscar race thanks to its raw, unforgiving look at the regiment of jazz music and the complexities of a mentor relationship. With that in mind, it’s always a treat when you get to look inside a director’s brain and see how he or she takes to the art of film-making.

It’s only a short clip, but here’s Chazelle discussing his inspiration for Whiplash at a recentHarol Lloyd Masters Seminar at the AFI Conservatory, available on the AFI website:

What’s your take on Chazelle’s inspiration? Has it got your creative juices going?

Rest Easy: You will see Bebop & Rocksteady in ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2′, but no Liebesman

There was never a possibility that there wouldn’t be a sequel to this year’s summer blockbuster Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, regardless how well it went down with audiences or critics. The only question was whether or not the sequel would tug at our heartstrings with more absurd cartoon characters that we adored in our childhood and occasionally secretly adore now.

Well, wish granted folks! Screenrant has reported that two hallmarks of the Turtles’ adventures will be appearing in the sequel: the affable anthropo-morons Bebop and Rocksteady.

The news was confirmed during an interview with producers Brad Fuller and Andrew Form, via Brazilian entertainment outlet Omelete: “We can say that Bebop and Rocksteady are in the film, and Casey Jones is a character that we love and we’re trying to fit him in as well.”

Other Turtles 2 news includes the fact that director Jonathan Liebesman is not returning for the Ninja Turtles sequel, with Earth To Echo director Dave Green circling the job.

Jonathan Liebesman on the "Turtles" set. A shell half-full kind of guy.
Jonathan Liebesman on the “Turtles” set. A shell half-full kind of guy.

In case you weren’t a shell-head in your youth, Bebop and Rocksteady had an opposite back story to the turtles, in that they were originally human but were exposed to a mutagen that transformed them into human-animal hybrids – a rhinoceros and a warthog.

There was news following the release of Turtles that the two characters were considered for the first film, or at least their concept art was. How far along the characters were scrapped is anyone’s guess, but it would have been interesting to see how they’d be incorporated into that plot.

Now we get to see them in the sequel, it opens up all kinds of possibilities for the sequel’s storyline, although the possibility that the on-screen depiction will ring true with our critical inner children is slim. Real slim. But in any case it will be interesting to see how they make the warthog and rhino henchmen look. As long as they’re still idiots, it should be fine. Plus the fight scenes could be pretty delicious with some hybrid-on-hybrid action…sorry, that sounded gross.

 

There was something else I had to say…oh yeah, turtle power! Sorry.

Who should play Bebop and Rocksteady? Is this shell half-empty or half-full?