Matt Damon and monsters – The Great Wall

There are certain film which, when you first hear about them, you feel might have been made just for you! Such is the case with The Great Wall.

Directed by Zhang Yimou (House of Flying Daggers) and starring Matt Damon, Pedro Pascal, Willem Dafoe and Andy Lau, The Great Wall posits the idea that the Great Wall of China was built not to keep out hordes of invading Mongolians but hordes of giant monsters. And then puts Matt Damon in the middle of all this to fight them.

So, while this film might not score major points in historical accuracy it does collect the gong for most outré concept of 2016 so far.

Universal will release The Great Wall, Yimou’s first English language film, in February, 2017. It is, apparently, the most expensive film ever shot entirely in China, with a budget of $135 million.

Since they seem to have made this film especially for me I’ll be booking my ticket early. I hope you’ll join me and bring some popcorn…

great wall

Source: Birth.Movies.Death.


Brie Larson is Captain Marvel – plus Spider-Man & Guardians news!


Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige continued his presentation at the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con with a whole load more exciting news!

After the Doctor Strange trailer came the premiere of the first footage from Spider-Man: Homecoming, which not only reportedly had a lighthearted, preppy John Hughes/high school feel, but also revealed the villain to be (as rumoured) The Vulture.

Next up, director James Gunn exploded onto the stage with the Ravagers and the full cast (some in costume) from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, including Michael Rooker (now sporting a head fin much closer to the character’s original comic book design) and the one and only Kurt Russell!

Feige also announced that Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout is heading for Disneyland, as a brand new ride at the theme parks in 2017.

Finally came the news everyone was hoping for: Brie Larson (who won the Academy Award for Best Actress, for Room) has been cast as Captain Marvel, the company’s major space-bound hero, who will finally feature in her first Marvel movie (and Marvel’s first female fronted film) in July, 2018!

That’s all from San Diego and Marvel, but what an amazing day for news.

Marvel release magical new Doctor Strange trailer.

“We only want to come when we have a LOT of stuff to show you,” said Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios in his introduction at the Hall H presentation of the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con.

After debuting a new studio logo, which will now play before all their movies, with a new musical fanfare by Michael Giacchino (The Incredibles, Star Trek 2009), he brought to the stage the cast (Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther, Michael B. Jordan, who will play Erik Killmonger; Lupita Nyong’o, taking the role of Nakia; and Danai Gurira as Okoye) and director (Ryan Coogler) of Black Panther (and revealing a new logo for that film).

Feige followed this by revealing a whole bunch of art and designs (and new logo) for Thor: Ragnarok (which promises to include elements of classic comic book story, Planet Hulk – imagine the green giant in an outer space gladiatorial arena – as well as being a buddy movie). Directed by Flight of the Conchords’ Taika Waititi, the film looks like it will contain a broader streak of humour than previous Thor movies, and – alongside Chris Hemsworth and Mark Ruffalo – features Cate Blanchett as the villain, Hela.

Next up, director Scott Derrickson introduced his cast for the highly anticipated Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen, Rachel McAdams and Benedict Wong). Cumberbatch took to the stage in a wild, smoke-filled laser light show, and premiered a second, and far stronger trailer for the film.

The presentation is still going on as I post this and I’ll be sure to bring more news as it hits, but Feige wasn’t exaggerating when he said Marvel had a lot to show!


Marvel logo source: JoBlo Movie Trailers

Apocalypse KONG – Skull Island trailer

King Kong is, somewhat bizarrely, the first film I remember seeing. I have vivid memories of watching these strange, flickering black and white images through the bars of my cot – which my Mum places at me being around just a year old! What can I say? I was obviously destined to be a Monster Kid of the 1960s.

So Kong has a special place in my affections, whether it’s the original 1933 masterpiece, the Dino De Laurentis/John Guillermin or Peter Jackson remakes or even the truly bizarro Japanese outings against Godzilla or Mechani-Kong (look it up, you’ll thank me).

I’m delighted to say this latest trailer has me very excited, mixing Apocalypse Now-style imagery with a fantastic, foreboding tone. And if Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. have their way (and if this film proves a big enough box office hit) we’ll see the mighty ape doing battle with the Gareth Edwards version of Godzilla in just a year or two!

Kong: Skull Island stomps into your local cinema  chased by Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, Jason Mitchell, Corey Hawkins, Toby Kebbell, Tom Wilkinson, Terry Notary, John Goodman and John C. Reilly, in March 2017.


Trailer source: JoBlo on YouTube

“I’m putting together a team…” – the Justice League trailer arrives.

For anyone (like me) who thought that Batman vs Superman was pretty much a disaster of tone and character, the rumours appear to be true that Warner Bros took notice of the massive critical lambasting and have taken great pains to right their sinking DC ship into smoother waters.

Hot on the heels of the rather exciting Wonder Woman trailer , the San Diego Comic-Con has now seen the arrival of the first footage from DC’s all star team up, Justice League.

The film is directed by Zack Snyder (presumably now on a much tighter leash from the studio), with a screenplay by Chris Terrio, and features an ensemble cast that includes Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Amy Adams, Jeremy Irons,J. K. Simmons, Amber Heard, and Willem Dafoe. In Justice League, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg assemble a team to face the catastrophic threat of Steppenwolf and his army of Parademons.

This first footage appears far lighter in tone than the utterly grimdark, miserabilist tone poem that was Batman vs Superman, so it’s fingers crossed that Warner Bros really have learned their lesson!

Justice League arrives in theatres on November 17, 2017.


She’s a wonder – the Wonder Woman trailer is here!

Created by the American psychologist and writer William Moulton Marston and originally drawn by H. G. Peter, Wonder Woman first appeared in All Star Comics #8 in December 1941 and first cover-dated on Sensation Comics #1, January 1942.

Over the decades the character’s role as an international diplomatic heroine fighting for justice, love, peace, and gender equality has led to Wonder Woman being widely hailed as a feminist icon.

On screen however she has fared less well, with the most memorable portrayal to date coming in the form of the high camp antics of Lynda Carter in the 1970s TV series.

So hopes are riding high (not least of which in this writer, as a self-professed Wonder Woman geek) that the latest incarnation from Warner Bros. will do the character justice.

The movie, due to hit our screens on on November 17, 2017, directed by the always interesting Patty (‘Monster’) Jenkins, and starring Gal Gadot as the demigoddess, and warrior princess of the Amazons of Themyscira, alongside Chris Pine, Lucy Davis, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Lisa Loven Kongsli, Danny Huston, Ewen Bremner, Saïd Taghmaoui, Elena Anaya and David Thewlis. That’s a heck of a cast and a lot of great talent surrounding the first big screen outing for one of DC Comics’ most preeminent characters.

This first trailer (just released for the San Diego Comic Con 2016) bodes well and looks like a lot of fun, so here’s hoping the film successfully gives us the true feminist hero we deserve.


Netflix’s Power Man & Iron Fist get real!

As an avowed Marvel Comics geek from way, way back (heck, I was even a member of F.O.O.M. – the Friends of Ol’ Marvel fan club – in the 1970s, and still have my membership card), I’ve been following the rise of Marvel’s film and TV properties with great excitement and enthusiasm. The fact that their productions are of a high standard has pleased me all the more.

After the huge success of the Netflix Daredevil show (the second season was given the green light virtually hours after the first one dropped to big ratings for the channel), it was genuinely thrilling to see them pushing ahead with some of Marvel’s lesser known properties.

Jessica Jones also proved to be a hit, and now here we are with trailers for not only Luke Cage but also Iron Fist. We’ll speak more of these guys after you’ve feasted your eyes on the trailers:


Cage, created in 1972 by Archie Goodwin and John Romita Sr.(with help from Roy Thomas), and Iron Fist (AKA Danny Rand), created by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane in 1974, were attempts by Marvel to capitalize on the Blaxploitation and Kung Fu crazes, but were later paired up as Power Man & Iron Fist – Heroes for Hire.

So it’s genuinely thrilling to see these second tier characters emerging to digital life (in the shape of Mike Colter and Finn Jones), especially as both look set to kick some major ass. I’m now hoping we’ll see Marvel dig a little deeper and give us major productions for Forbush Man and Frog Man (try Googling them) or, dare I even whisper it, Howard the Duck (after his cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy)!

Meanwhile, Luke Cage drops on September 30, 2016 and Iron Fist hits sometime in 2017.

UPDATE: As if that wasn’t enough excitement from Netflix for one day, we’ve also been treated to the first teaser (set to Nirvana’s Come As You Are, no less) for The Defenders, the show which will see all their characters team up. It’s a Marvel-icious overload:


Stranger Things – More King Than King


The Netflix series that flew in pretty much under the radar and is now the water cooler show of the summer feels like one of the best Stephen King adaptations ever – even though the author has nothing to do with Stranger Things.

Of course the eight part series doesn’t just reference King, there are a lot more ingredients mixed into this charming concoction – everything from Alien and Aliens, John Carpenter movies (plus a massively Carpenter-inspired score, by Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein), The Gate, The Monster Squad, Blow Out, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Scanners, Videodrome and a whole lot more. It’s also a love letter to the 1980s movies of Steven Spielberg, particularly E.T.; The Extra Terrestrial and The Goonies, as well as to the decade itself (during which the show is set).

But most of all, the film calls back to Stephen King books, films and TV series such as Firestarter, The Tommyknockers, Stand By Me and many more. Creators/co-producers and directors Matt and Ross Duffer get to the heart of what makes King’s work so successful, by giving us ordinary, down-to-earth (and decidedly blue collar) characters who we come to care for. It seems like a simple trick, but it’s one that proves elusive to many.

When 12-year-old Will Byers vanishes, his mother, Joyce, becomes frantic and tries to find him, while the local Police Chief, Jim Hopper begins his own investigation. The very next day a mysterious girl with strange abilities appears. These events soon start to involve others in the small town, including a dark government agency with their own agenda involving these two children.

The casting here, by Carmen Cuba, deserves special mention and is superb. The children give really likeable and heartfelt performances, with special mention going to Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin and Finn Wolfhard.

Every character gets moments to shine, and even those we’re supposed to dislike get real moments of humanity. The biggest exception to this is chief antagonist Dr. Martin Brenner, played by Matthew Modine (channeling David Cronenberg in Clive Barker’s Nightbreed, perhaps?), who remains cold and unknowable. I’m not certain if this is a deliberate choice of the production but it serves to leave something of a hole at the centre of things.

Of the adults, both Winona Ryder, as Joyce, and David Harbour, as Jim Hopper, give very strong, anchoring performances. Hopper really is the quintessential Stephen King protagonist, the cracked and frayed working man who becomes heroic despite his frailties.

Mixing horror and science fiction with big dollops of humour and heart (the relationships between the four central children are not only relatable but warm and very funny, and there are some real tear-inducing moments between them), Stranger Things, despite a small, niggling feeling of anti-climax, tells a mostly satisfactory, self-contained story – though I’m sure its surprise success will have many viewers calling for more – and there are certainly enough threads left hanging.

While there’s nothing startlingly original here, the way these ingredients are prepared feels both fresh and familiar, and the show is a hoot for those who know and love any of the productions I’ve mentioned (or just the 1980s) but more than stands on its own feet to provide a summer surprise which will keep you glued to your sofa.

King himself took to Twitter to praise the show, saying “Watching STRANGER THINGS is like watching Steve King’s Greatest Hits. I mean that in a good way”, and if it’s good enough for the master of horror, well…

Look out! It’s the new Godzilla Resurgence trailer!

One of Japan’s biggest exports (probably falling somewhere behind motor vehicles and sushi) is Godzilla, and I’m very excited about the prospect of a brand new movie featuring the grumpy, radioactive monster.

The first Toho production of their most bankable star since 2004’s Godzilla: Final Wars, Godzilla Resurgence will trample through Japanese cinemas on July 29, helmed by filmmakers Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi (known for their work on Neon Genesis Evangelion and the live-action Attack on Titan). Anno also wrote the screenplay for the film, while Higuchi oversaw the special effects.

While little is currently known about the storyline, it’s a fairly safe bet that there will be a huge amount of property damage, the Japanese army will waste vast amounts of ammunition and Godzilla is unlikely to tell any jokes.

Higuchi has previously revealed they will utilize CG technology for the film, calling their monster the “most terrifying” version of Godzilla to date.

Toho have just released a second trailer for the film (see above) through their YouTube channel and it looks massively impressive, with some wonderfully atmospheric shots of the big guy (and a lot of very worried looking people in a variety of offices), set against a suitably portentous score by Shiro Sagisu.

Having just returned from a trip to Tokyo, it’s clear that Toho are really getting behind this latest production, as there is a veritable avalanche of Godzilla promotions and merchandise available everywhere, from department stores to restaurants to art galleries.

As much as I enjoyed Gareth Edwards’ 2014 movie, I can’t wait to see Godzilla stomping through his old neighbourhood, as Japan gets ready to crumble!

godzilla-resurgence-image A

Summer is Coming – Game of Thrones Threatens Vacation Industry.


The entire summer vacation industry came under threat today when HBO announced that Game of Thrones season 7 would move its broadcast date to summer 2017.

Hoteliers, package airlines and sun lotion manufacturers expressed dismay at the announcement. “I felt a great disturbance in the Force,” said a spokesperson for them, quoting the wrong franchise “As if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.”

“Now that winter has arrived on ‘Game of Thrones,’ executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss felt that the storylines of the next season would be better served by starting production a little later than usual, when the weather is changing,” said Casey Bloys, president, HBO programming, completely ignoring the pain inflicted on so many people. “Instead of the show’s traditional spring debut, we’re moving the debut to summer to accommodate the shooting schedule.”

Adding insult to injury, the producers have also announced the final two seasons would be considerably shorter, consisting of approximately six to eight episodes each. Quite how the world will deal with this double blow and whether or not vacation related industries will ever recover remain to be seen, but it certainly looks like our vacation tans will be lacking for the next two summers.

Source: Variety