Your Dream Or Nightmare Just Came True: HBO Make Watchmen TV Series

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Prepare to scream with delight or grind your teeth in furious indignation: HBO announced today that their Watchmen TV series is a go, following recent production of a pilot episode.

To further find your bliss/fuel your anger, writer/producer Damon Lindelof has warned not to expect another direct adaptation likeZack Snyder’s incredibly faithful 2009 movie. Lindelof wrote on Instagram that his version is the “New Testament” to the original’s “Old Testament”. HBO also released the following logline via Indiewire:

“Set in an alternate history where “superheroes” are treated as outlaws, “Watchmen” embraces the nostalgia of the original groundbreaking graphic novel while attempting to break new ground of its own.”

Lindelof has also said of the show:

“This story will be set in the world its creators painstakingly built…but in the tradition of the work that inspired it, this new story must be original. It has to vibrate with the seismic unpredictability of its own tectonic plates. It must ask new questions and explore the world through a fresh lens. Most importantly, it must be contemporary. The Old Testament was specific to the Eighties of Reagan and Thatcher and Gorbachev. Ours needs to resonate with the frequency of Trump and May and Putin and the horse that he rides around on, shirtless. And speaking of Horsemen, The End of the World is off the table…which means the heroes and villains–as if the two are distinguishable–are playing for different stakes entirely. Some of the characters will be unknown. New faces. New masks to cover them. We also intend to revisit the past century of Costumed Adventuring through a surprising yet familiar set of eyes…and it is here we will be taking our greatest risks.”

The show is sure to raise the ire of many fans of Watchmen, who think the Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons’ story should not be continued (both for moral reasons – as Moore notoriously has disowned anything produced by DC or Warner Bros beyond their original work – and creative reasons – seeing the graphic novel’s story as sacrosanct), and Lindelof’s CV is also filled with divisive productions (Prometheus and Lost among them).

Personally I’m cautiously intrigued by this and with a cast headed up by Tom Mison, Jeremy Irons, Regina King, Don Johnson, Tim Blake Nelson, Dylan Schombing, Lily Rose Smith, Adelynn Spoon, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Louis Gossett Jr., Adelaide Clemens, Frances Fisher, Jacob Ming-Trent and Andrew Howard, this promises to be, if nothing else, a major talking point when it hits HBO in 2019.

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The Ravishing Teaser for Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma

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A huge tip of the hat to the fine folk at Birth.Movies.Death for alerting me to one of the most beautiful looking teasers for a film I’ve seen in, well, forever. Feast your eyes on Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma

I’m a big fan of the Mexican director’s work, not only has he made one of the stone-cold classics of science-fiction cinema (or indeed, of just cinema) with Children of Men, but he also made one of the only Harry Potter films I can actually recall anything about (and I’ve seen them all, at least I think I have), with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. He’s also made excellent movies such as Y Tu Mama Tambien and Gravity (which won him Academy Awards for both Best Director and Best Picture).

Co-edited, co-photographed, written, co-produced, and directed by Cuarón, Roma is an autobiographically inspired film that chronicles a year in the life of a middle-class family in Mexico City in the early 1970s. And if this powerful and sumptuous trailer is anything to go by, it will be best experienced in a cinema.

Ironic then, that most viewers will probably see it on Netflix as part of an impressive slate of movies the streaming channel has lined up by filmmakers including Martin Scorsese, the Coen Brothers, Paul Greengrass and Gareth Evans, along with the insanely tantalising promise of Orson Welles’ legendary The Other Side of the Wind finally being completed. Of course, for viewers without easy access to cinemas that screen more than studio blockbusters, this kind of line up is a godsend.

Here’s the official synopsis for Roma:

“A vivid portrayal of domestic strife and social hierarchy amidst political turmoil, Romafollows a young domestic worker Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio) from Mixteco heritage descent and her co-worker Adela (Nancy García), also Mixteca, who work for a small family in the middle-class neighborhood of Roma.  Mother of four, Sofia (Marina de Tavira), copes with the extended absence of her husband, Cleo faces her own devastating news that threatens to distract her from caring for Sofia’s children, whom she loves as her own. While trying to construct a new sense of love and solidarity in a context of a social hierarchy where class and race are perversely intertwined, Cleo and Sofia quietly wrestle with changes infiltrating the family home in a country facing confrontation between a government-backed militia and student demonstrators.”

Roma has its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on August 30, and I hope to bring you more news soon.

The Star Wars TV Series Will Cost Big Bucks (And Other News)!

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Details have been thin on the ground since the announcement late last year that Disney’s new streaming service will feature a live action Star Wars TV series.

But a new report by the New York Times has revealed a couple of interesting titbits about the show, currently being developed by Iron Man’s Jon Favreau.

First up is the news that the show, running to ten episodes, will cost around 100 million dollars. That’s, um… about ten million dollars an episode, according to my trusty financial advisor, which might sound like a lot of moolah to you and me, but actually comes across as kind of cheap when you consider the final six episodes of Game of Thrones will cost a staggering $15 million apiece.

Secondly, Favreau has confirmed that the series will take place after the events of Return of the Jedi, (also the timeframe for the upcoming animated series Star Wars Resistance – why, it’s almost like there’s such a thing as corporate synergy in the world). According to a comment made by Favreau back in May, his series will take place seven years after the fall of the Empire, while Resistance will cross the bridge in the timeline and depict the rise of the First Order, which leads towards The Force Awakens.

It’s entirely possible we’ll be hearing more about the Star Wars live-action TV series and I’ll bring you more news as it lands.

Ruby Rose Is Batwoman – DC’s First Onscreen Gay Hero

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In a very welcome piece of news, Orange Is The New Black star, Ruby Rose, has been cast as Batwoman in the CW’s annual crossover event and for her own series next season.

In recent years Batwoman has been at the forefront of LGBTQ+ representation in comics. Originally created in 1956, as a love interest for Batman in order to combat the allegations of Batman’s homosexuality arising from the controversial book Seduction of the Innocent (1954), the character disappeared from comics in the mid-1960s but was reintroduced to the DC comic universe in 2006, when she was established as a Jewish lesbian, becoming the first-ever lesbian superhero title DC character.

The CW’s series, written by Caroline Dries based on the DC characters, sees Batwoman armed with a passion for social justice and a flair for speaking her mind. Rose will star as Kate Kane, soaring onto the streets of Gotham as Batwoman, an out lesbian and highly trained street fighter primed to snuff out the failing city’s criminal resurgence.

Rose’s casting comes on the heels of Monday’s statement from The CW that the network anticipates a pilot for the Batwoman series as early as midseason, but we will get our first glimpse of the character in the big Arrowverse crossover event this December (teaming up The Flash, Arrow and Supergirl, but not Legends of Tomorrow).

Rose, who identifies as gender fluid, has already starred in Pitch Perfect 3, XXX: The Return of Xander Cage and John Wick: Chapter 2, and will soon be seen punching giant sharks alongside Jason Statham, in The Meg.

This sounds very exciting to me, taking a very important step towards more inclusive characters in media, and since Rose has already shown herself to be an intriguing actor, Batwoman would appear to be in safe hands.

Robbie Reveals Tarantino’s Tate

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Margot Robbie took to her Instagram account today to give us the first look at her in character as actress Sharon Tate in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time in Hollywood.

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The cast features Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio – along with a virtual who’s who of acting talent (see previous posts here and here) – and sees Robbie taking the role of the American actress and model, and the wife of director Roman Polanski,  who was murdered at age 26 by the Manson Family on August 9, 1969.

The film dodged one controversial bullet recently by announcing it will no longer open on the 50th anniversary of Tate’s death, but instead be released by Sony on July 26, 2019.

As always, I’ll bring you more news on Once Upon A Time In Hollywood as it hits. Because if you’re anything like me, next July can’t come soon enough (and not just because it’s vacation time).

Make It So: Patrick Stewart Returns To Trek With New TV Series

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Confirming rumours that have been circulating for some time, Star Trek: Discovery co-creator and showrunner, Alex Kurtzman today announced the return of Patrick Stewart to the role of Captain Jean-Luc Picard in a brand new Trek TV series.

Taking the stage at the Star Trek Las Vegas show, Kurtzman brought out Stewart to a wild reception from the crowd, and the veteran actor told them “he may not be the Jean-Luc you know.”

“With overwhelming joy, it’s a privilege to welcome Sir Patrick Stewart back to the Star Trek fold,” Kurtzman said. “For over 20 years, fans have hoped for the return of Captain Jean-Luc Picard and that day is finally here. We can’t wait to forge new ground, surprise people, and honor generations both new and old.”

A report at the news site, Deadline, states that the new series is not a Star Trek: Next Generation reboot but will tell the story of the next chapter of Picard’s life. It will be overseen by Kurtzman who signed a deal with CBS TV Studios to develop new Star Trek content.

Stewart also announced the news via Twitter, saying:

“I will always be very proud to have been a part of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but when we wrapped that final movie in the spring of 2002, I truly felt my time with Star Trek had run its natural course,” Stewart said. “It is, therefore, an unexpected but delightful surprise to find myself excited and invigorated to be returning to Jean-Luc Picard and to explore new dimensions within him. Seeking out new life for him, when I thought that life was over.”

“During these past years, it has been humbling to hear many stories about how The Next Generation brought people comfort, saw them through difficult periods in their lives or how the example of Jean-Luc inspired so many to follow in his footsteps, pursuing science, exploration and leadership,” Stewart continued. “I feel I’m ready to return to him for the same reason – to research and experience what comforting and reforming light he might shine on these often very dark times. I look forward to working with our brilliant creative team as we endeavor to bring a fresh, unexpected and pertinent story to life once more.”

The creative team for the new series will include James Duff, a recent addition to Discovery as an executive producer, former Discovery executive producer Akiva Goldsman, Discovery writer, and Star Trek novelist, Kirsten Beyer, and Pulitzer prize-winning Author Michael Chabon.

The new (as yet untitled) Picard series will join Star Trek: Discovery, which is about to launch its second season, and the upcoming Star Trek: Short Treks four-part limited series, so if you’re not a Star Trek fan now might be a good time to take that long vacation you’ve been thinking about. The rest of us will put on our rubber Spock ears and stock up with snacks and Romulan ale to celebrate this very welcome news.

First Photo From Star Wars Episode IX

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The as-yet untitled (publicly, at least) Star Wars Episode IX director, J J Abrams, has celebrated the first day of filming by dropping the first production photo from the film on his Twitter feed.

Feast your no-doubt eager eyes on this and we’ll talk after the break:

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Along with the photo, dominated by the camera but carefully showing John Boyega’s Finn in conversation with someone in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon, Abrams left the following touching message:

Bittersweet starting this next chapter without Carrie, but thanks to an extraordinary cast and crew, we are ready to go. Grateful for @rianjohnson and special thanks to George Lucas for creating this incredible world and beginning a story of which we are lucky to be a part. #IX

Star Wars Episode IX will see newcomers Richard E. Grant, Naomi Ackie and Keri Russell join series regulars Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo and Billie Lourd, alongside Billy Dee Williams returning as Lando Calrissian and the final appearance for Princess/General Leia Organa, using unseen footage (originally shot for The Force Awakens) of the late Carrie Fisher.

Expect to start seeing a lot more information creeping out (which I’ll be happy to bring you) as we reach the home stretch for the final film in the current Star Wars trilogy.

The film will open around December 18, 2019.

She’ll Be Back

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Empire Magazine has just shared the first image of Linda Hamilton as the iconic Sarah Connor, from forthcoming sequel/reboot/whatever Terminator Film Without A Title.*

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The full picture reveals her standing alongside co-stars Mackenzie Davis and Natalia Reyes, in the new film produced by James Cameron (while simultaneously making four hundred back-to-back Avatar sequels) and directed by Deadpool’s Tim Miller.

Whether this is a film anyone actually wants to see is still undecided, after the last three sequels (Rise of the Machines, Salvation and, ugh… Genisys) failed to deliver the goods in ever worse ways. The irritating mangling of the word Genesis alone explains my wariness towards this project, despite the always welcome presence of Hamilton (returning to the franchise for the first time since Terminator 2: Judgement Day in 1991).

The new Terminator movie is released in November 2019.

*Likely to be changed before release

The Guardians Of The Galaxy Stand With Gunn (And So Do I)

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In a remarkable piece of chutzpah today, the entire cast of Marvel/Disney’s Guardians of the Galaxy films have released a joint statement in defence of director, James Gunn, recently fired from his position as a result of a concerted campaign by cybernazis.

Here’s the full letter, citing a petition to reinstate Gunn:

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It’s wonderful to see these actors backing their director, and while I don’t often bring politics onto this site, for once I’ll make an exception (because Gunn is someone whose work and public face I’ve personally admired for many years).

Gunn made a whole bunch of tweets that were undeniably in poor taste. But that’s all they were, jokes that some people find distasteful. Since making them he has very publicly apologised – twice, in fact – making a very heartfelt and eloquent case for his growth as a person who would no longer make those same jokes. In short, he owned the immaturity of his younger self. Would that we were all so self-aware.

When Disney hired Gunn to write and direct Guardians of the Galaxy, they did so in full recognition of who they were bringing into the fold, in fact you might say they brought him in partly because of his far left-field humour.

The people who targeted Gunn’s past off-kilter humour did so because the director has become a highly vocal and highly visible critic of their right wing politics. They’re not stupid, they know Gunn wasn’t advocating the subjects he was making bad jokes about. They’ve targeted him in order to silence what he says now, not what he said a decade ago.

Disney and Marvel have made a very shitty move in firing Gunn under pressure from these cyber-bullies. It sets a terrible precedent that cannot be seen as anything than deeply troubling.

I don’t know if this show of support from Gunn’s cast will make a difference to one of the world’s biggest conglomerates, but if nothing else it shows that Gunn deserves support from more of us.

The Co*%sucking Deadwood Movie Is On!

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Rejoice, co*%suckers, because the long-mooted Deadwood movie is on at HBO.

The series, starring Ian McShane, Timothy Olyphant, Molly Parker and John Hawkes, and set around the development of Deadwood, South Dakota in the 1870s, only lasted three seasons but has gained a devoted cult following.

Now the news that fans have been hoping for has arrived: HBO will bring the story to a conclusion in a brand-new film.

“All of these people worked hard to get this together,” said HBO Programming President, Casey Bloys, today. “It’s been a logistics nightmare getting all the cast members’ schedules together but we are there. It is greenlit.”

Further details are thin on the ground right now, but you can be sure I’ll bring you news as it develops.