Rise Of The Apes Gets Release Date


Still from the original Planet of the Apes
Still from the original Planet of the Apes

According to Variety the PLANT OF THE APES prequel, RISE OF THE APES, is still happening and Twentieth Century Fox have settled on a June 24th, 2011 release date. The studio have also secured a director, Rupert Wyatt (THE ESCAPIST, BIRDSONG), and plan to work with WETA Digital to create for the first time CGI, instead of make-up assisted, apes.

RISE OF THE APES is apparently an origins story, aimed at rebooting the franchise for audiences unfamiliar with the older films and is set in present-day San Francisco. The film is a, “reality-based cautionary tale, where man’s own experiments with genetic engineering lead to the development of intelligence in apes and the onset of a war for supremacy”. Wyatt will be directing the film from a script by Amanda Silver and Rick Jaffa (THE RELIC, EYE FOR AN EYE), who also are producing with Chernin Entertainment’s Peter Chernin and Dylan Clark.
Not much about this new entry in the series sounds promising. Using CGI to create the apes sounds like a terrible idea as computer generated apes will never look as real or convincing as actors dressed up in make-up. Wyatt’s directorial début, THE ESCAPIST, was a great film but will the script from the people that brought us THE RELIC be up to scratch? It’s unlikely to say the least. Few of the sequels to the original PLANET OF THE APES were any good and Burton’s remake made plenty of money but was a terrible film nonetheless.
You make your own mind up when RISE OF THE APES is released on the 24th of June next year.

Abrams’ Super 8 Teaser and Info

J.J. Abrams (STAR TREK, CLOVERFIELD) and Steven Spielberg (E.T., JURASSIC PARK) have been working together on a rather hush-hush project called SUPER 8 over the last year, and the first teaser trailer has begun showing before screenings of IRON MAN 2. You can watch the teaser on the left, and we also have new information regarding the film, courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter, below.
So what is SUPER 8 all about? Contrary to earlier rumours it’s not connected with CLOVERFIELD in the slightest. It will, however, share a tonal similarity with the sci-fi monster hit as it revolves around ordinary people encountering something most extraordinary. Abrams has written the script and will directing the film himself while Steven Spielberg will serve as producer. The film, which is rumoured to be about a group of teenagers stumbling upon alien lifeforms whilst shooting an amateur film on super 8,  will not be shot using ‘shakey-cam’ and is being given a budget of between $45-50 million.
If you don’t want anything spoilt for yourself, read no further and instead visit the official site here as it’ll soon be hosting the teaser in much better quality than the bootleg available on YouTube. Said trailer is simply brilliant as it continues Abrams’ gift for creating a mystique around his films and in turn, generating hype. We don’t see much, but what he do see is more than enough to have me thoroughly excited for the film.
Abrams and Spielberg are currently working hard on SUPER 8 in time to release it next year.

UPDATED: Hugo Weaving Playing Captain America's Nemesis, Gets Sidekick


Actor Hugo Weaving
Actor Hugo Weaving

It’s been rumoured for a while now but Marvel have sent out an official press release stating that Hugo Weaving (THE LORD OF THE RINGS, THE MATRIX) has been cast as Red Skull, the main antagonist in CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER is the latest Marvel superhero to get the Hollywood adaptation treatment and focuses on Steve Rogers (AKA Captain America), a sickly young man who was enhanced to the peak of human perfection by an experimental serum in order to aid the United States war effort. In the comics Red Skull had various different incarnations, but the film he’ll be a Nazi officer personally groomed by the one and only Adolph Hitler to spread terror and intimidation. After wreaking chaos throughout Europe, he’s eventually clashes with Captain America.
Hugo Weaving, as we all know, can play a great villain and that he’s officially on for the film is good news. Weaving will be joining a cast that already includes Chris Evans (FANTASTIC FOUR, SUNSHINE) and Hayley Atwell (MANSFIELD PARK, THE DUCHESS). Joe Johnston (THE WOLFMAN, THE ROCKETEER) is directing CAPTAIN AMERICA which starts shooting in the UK next month, ready for a July 2011 release date.
UPDATE: Toby Jones (THE MIST, HARRY POTTER) has signed on to play Arnim Zola, a mad scientist and another of Captain America’s antagonists. In the comics Zola is an expert biochemist and geneticist working for the Nazis creating clones and monstrous beings.

Matthew Vaughn To Direct X-Men: First Class


Director Matthew Vaughn
Director Matthew Vaughn

According to The Hollywood Reporter Matthew Vaughn (KICK-ASS, STARDUST) has finally, after lots of back-and-forth, signed on to direct superhero origins tale, X-MEN: FIRST CLASS. Vaughn has been rumoured to be circling the project for the last couple of weeks but has now sealed the deal with the studio, who are hoping to get the film out by June 3, 2011.

The date is shockingly close for a film of this scale, a blockbuster film loaded with special effects, but the studio are feeling confident since reading a rewrite of the script by Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz (THOR, TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES) and securing Vaughn as director. According to Fox FIRST CLASS will,

“Chart the epic beginning of the X-Men saga. Before Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr took the names Professor X and Magneto, they were two young men discovering their powers for the first time. Before they were archenemies, they were the closest of friends, working together, with other Mutants (some familiar, some new), to stop the greatest threat the world has ever known. In the process, a rift between them opened, which began the eternal war between Magneto’s Brotherhood and Professor X’s X-Men.”

Almost everything about this project sounds dodgy. First off, do we really need another X-MEN film? LAST STAND and WOLVERINE were both pretty poor and I’d rather see them leave the franchise alone. Secondly, the plot sounds a lot like the terrible cartoon series, X-MEN: EVOLUTION, and seems like another excuse for Hollywood to carry on the teen-centric trend which is currently plaguing our screens. Thirdly, a year to cast, shoot and edit the thing? Really Fox? That’s just pushing it.
Fourthly, (yes, fourthly) while Vaughn isn’t a bad director, he’s certainly not remarkable and I’d much rather Bryan Singer (who directed the first two X-MEN films, conceived the story for FIRST CLASS and was originally going to direct the film before leaving it for JACK THE GIANT KILLER) come back to the franchise if it’s to carry on at all. Also, how is Vaughn going to fit in the newly announced KICK-ASS: BALLS TO THE WALL, which is meant to hit cinemas in 2012?
Whatever your view on the film, X-MEN: FIRST CLASS is due to hit cinemas on the 3rd of June, 2011.

Sam Rockwell to Tackle Cowboys & Aliens


Actor Sam Rockwell
Actor Sam Rockwell

According to The Hollywood Reporter Sam Rockwell (IRON MAN 2, MOON) has signed on for Jon Favreau’s (IRON MAN 2, ZATHURA) upcoming sci-fi film, COWBOYS & ALIENS. He’ll be joining an already star studded cast which includes the likes of Harrison Ford (STAR WARS, INDIANA JONES) and Daniel Craig (THE GOLDEN COMPASS, THE INVASION).

Rockwell is to star in the upcoming superhero film, IRON MAN 2, which was also directed by Favreau, so the two must of hit if off pretty well. COWBOYS & ALIENS is a graphic novel adaptation in which a group of angry extraterrestrials invade the Old West. Writers Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Damon Lindelof have had to work with Favreau to re-imagine the role of ‘Doc’, a bartender who helps our heroes battle the alien nasties, for Rockwell to boost his screen time and change his appearance from a heavy-set boozer.
I’m quietly anticipating this one and the addition of Rockwell to the cast can only be  a good thing. COWBOYS & ALIENS is set to start shooting in June.

Iron Man 2 (2010)

Iron_Man_2_poster

A worthy if not spectacular successor, IRON MAN 2 recaptures all the wit and exhuberance of the original

Before 2008, who really cared about Iron Man, one of Marvel’s minor characters – perhaps best known for the Black Sabbath song heard so prominently in the film’s trailer. Who knew who director Jon Favreau was? Even Robert Downey Jr. – a respected and well-known actor – hadn’t achieved Hollywood blockbuster status yet. The release of IRON MAN changed all of this – not only earning almost $600 million at the international box office, but also becoming one of the most critically lauded comic book adaptations ever, one that demanded a follow-up.
However, when the inevitable cries for a sequel were heard, things quickly became troubled: Favreau’s unlikely to return as director; oh no, he’s back. Terrence Howard has been fired; he’s to be replaced by Don Cheadle. Emily Blunt’s been cast; oh wait, she’s off the project. With all the issues of casting, production schedules, and who got paid what, it’s a minor miracle that IRON MAN 2 even saw the light of day. Thankfully, the sequel has emerged from the other end of the tunnel with all the wit and exuberance of the original intact – a worthy, if not spectacular, successor to IRON MAN.
IRON MAN 2 picks up six months after Tony Stark’s revelation to the world that he is the metal clad hero of the title; in the interim, his ego has inflated to even larger proportions than previously thought possible. Meanwhile, Ivan Vanko, a criminal Russian physicist, is planning revenge against the Stark family, and rival entrepreneur Justin Hammer is growing tired of Tony’s media dominance. The film opens, somewhat strangely, with its worst scene: Vanko tending his terminally ill father in Russia. There is so much over-the-top Russian stereotyping (Vanko drinking vodka from the bottle in a snow drenched, crummy apartment building) and hammy acting (Mickey Rourke’s Darth Vader moment) that it’s embarrassingly bad. Fortunately, after this false start, the film quickly drops us headfirst into the Stark Expo, a sequence energized by the blisteringly sounds of AC/DC.
iron-man-2The original IRON MAN wouldn’t have been nearly as good if it were not for the characterisation of Tony Stark as a man with an egotistical, eccentric, yet brilliant mind, and Robert Downey Jr. was the perfect actor to embody that personality. The enthusiasm and maddening determination he brought to the role made the film, and the same is true for the sequel. Downey’s performance in IRON MAN 2 is ridiculously enjoyable to watch; he’s probably responsible for at least half the film’s entertainment value. That said, the new additions to the cast manage to grab their own share of the spotlight.
Don Cheadle, replacing Terrence Howard as Lt. Col. James Rhodes, outdoes his predecessor by miles – not just because his character is given more narrative prominence but also because Cheadle is the all-round better actor, bringing a greater sense of authority and, when needed, comedic charm to the character. Mickey Rourke (save for the aforementioned emotional outburst) adds just the right amount of weird to his villainous Vanko, delivering some of the script’s best lines. Sam Rockwell excels as the tragically comic Hammer, a man desperate to outdo Stark but without the necessary means, and Scarlett Johansson delivers a surprisingly kick-ass (and not so surprisingly easy on the eyes) turn as Tony’s new assistant, Natalie Rushman.
Favreau retains his knack for entertaining, kinetic action sequences. The director has always injected his fight scenes with a sense of humour, and these moments elevate IRON MAN 2 a level above just being men in robot suits smacking one another. It’s the first outburst of flames, during Stark’s eleventh hour decision to compete at Monaco, that really stands out, however. Vanko (in his new Whiplash persona) enters the course on foot, tearing up high-powered cars left and right with a thoroughly frightening sense of determination, all shot in brilliantly realised slow-motion. During this moment, we most fear for Stark, and it’s a truly breathtaking piece of cinema.
Iron-Man-2-Black-Widow-scarlettLater, Scarlett Johansson also gets in on the action, infiltrating Hammer’s facility. We watch as she effortlessly cuts through security guards one by one, like a hot knife through butter. It’s an impressively choreographed and memorable sequence, one that will leave audiences with their jaws  resting firmly on the floor.
The special effects are also impressive. Although the CGI in IRON MAN was mostly up to the code, there were a few rough moments. With IRON MAN 2 this is no longer a problem: the technical and visual achievements rank among the best to date, investing every scrape, blow and explosion with believability.
This is not to suggest that IRON MAN 2 over-relies on pyrotechnics. The script is as sharp as ever. Stark’s witty banter with his detractors remains a highlight, especially when in two particularly hilarious scenes wherein Stark goes toe to toe against Senator Stern (Gary Shandling) and Nick Fury (Sam Jackson gets a lot more screen time round, and the film is all the better for it).
Pacing, on the other hand, is the weakness in IRON MAN 2’s armor. The narrative initially feels jet-propelled, but after Whiplash’s first attack on Stark the story becomes a little muddled, scattershot, and (dare I say it?) boring. At mid-point, there are several plot threads developing simultaneously, none of which are exceptionally interesting or well executed, and it begins to feel as if the second act is treading water in anticipation of the climax. When the battle sequence finally arrives, it’s highly enjoyable, but (just like the first film) it is over far too quickly.
This leads to my next criticism: lack of threat. There is one point, and one point only, during which the audience is in any real doubt as to whether Stark will make it out alive, and that is near the beginning. After that, IRON MAN 2 becomes very predictable: you realise that none of Iron Man’s opponents are going to put him in any tangible danger. Fortunately, these issues dim but do not destroy the overall impact of this amusing and exciting slice of blockbuster superhero cinema.
Untitled
IRON MAN 2 (2010). Director: Jon Favreau. Writers: Justin Theroux (screenplay) and Stan Lee (original comic books). Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sam Rockwell, Mickey Rourke and Samuel L. Jackson.
[serialposts]

Release Date for Batman 3 Confirmed


The late Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight
The late Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight

Warner Bros’ distribution chief, Dan Fellman, recently sent out an email confirming the release date for Christopher Nolan’s (THE DARK KNIGHT, INCEPTION) BATMAN 3 and it’s the 20th of July, 2012. While this isn’t too surprising (given that both of the previous BATMAN reboots were released on that date and INCEPTION is due out on the 16th of July this year) it’s good to know that the film isn’t too far off.

BATMAN 3 will be going up against a lot of stiff competition in 2012 as THE AVENGERS, SPIDER-MAN, BATTLESHIP and STAR TREK 2 are all also being released in two years time. Very little is known about the third BATMAN reboot, it doesn’t even have a name yet, but we know that Nolan’s brother is working hard on the script and that most of the main cast are contracted for a third film.
Now let’s get writing our villain wish lists….

Sharlto Copley Talks District 9 Prequel


Still from District 9
Still from District 9

Sharlto Copley, star of last years sci-fi sleep hit, DISTRICT 9, has been talking to Empire during the press tour for THE A-TEAM and sheds some light on its follow up. Copley explains how he and DISTRICT 9 director, Neil Blomkamp, are thinking of making a prequel rather than a direct sequel and plan to shoot it after Blomkamp is done with his next feature film.

Copley and Blomkamp are apparently determined to ensure that it’s not a typical sequel and mention the possibility that it could be a prequel,

“There’s a million ways you can go. Neil’s actually very interested in prequels as well; he’s said that a few times. We wouldn’t do the traditional Hollywood version of the sequel which would just be 100 aliens fighting humans.”

Copley adds,

“Neil wants it and I want it. Neil’s doing another film first. Then I think if everything goes according to plan we’ll do the second film in about two years time. That story can go in so many different ways. There’s a whole universe. I’m sure a lot of writers say that, but we actually have an entire universe.”

The first DISTRICT 9 told the story of how an extraterrestrial race, forced to live in slum-like conditions on Earth, suddenly finds a kindred spirit in a government agent who is exposed to their biotechnology. DISTRICT 9 was an amazingly fresh and exciting dose of sci-fi action so it’s good to hear that both the films star and director don’t want to go the obvious route with the sequel. As for a release date, it seems we’ll have to wait a while longer but you can be sure Cinefantastique Online will keep you updated on the project.

to ensure that it’s not a typical sequel – and the possibility that it could be a prequel.

Universal Going For a Maximum Ride


Cover for the Maximum Ride novel
Cover for the Maximum Ride novel

According to The Hollywood Reporter Sony have backed out of producing the adaptation of James Patterson’s MAXIMUM RIDE series and instead Universal are trying for the rights. They want to adapt the fantasy novels for the big screen and have Catherine Hardwicke (TWILIGHT, THE GIRL WITH THE RED RIDING HOOD) lined up to direct.

MAXIMUM RIDE is a series of six young adult science fiction/fantasy books which chronicle the lives of six human/avian fugitives. Bred in a science lab called ‘The School’, the Flock endured scientific experiments that rendered them 98% human and 2% avian. After learning to fly, they escape the laboratory where they’ve been kept and flee a pack of human/wolf beings known as the Erasers.
Universal have hired Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby (IRON MAN) to write the script, which Sony had ditched as it got in the way of their SPIDER-MAN reboot, and Universal’s Tracy Falco and Franklin Leonard will be overseeing the project for the studio. I can’t say this project incites much interest for me but it’s sure to sell well to teenagers eager for the next TWILIGHT-type craze.

Updated Info on Marvel's Ant Man


Marvels comic book hero Ant Man
Marvels comic book hero Ant Man

SuperHeroHype have been talking with Marvel Studios President of Production, Kevin Feige, on the eve of IRON MAN 2’s release and he has some new information about one of the studio’s smaller properties, ANT MAN. Apparently Edgar Wright (SHAUN OF THE DEAD, HOT FUZZ) is still directing the comic book adaptation and is set to start work on it once SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD is released.
In the Marvel comics ANT MAN had several incarnations; first was Dr Henry “Hank” Pym, whom invented the various methods for someone to reduce their size and assume the identity of ANT MAN and then there was Scott Lang, a thief who was reformed with the aid of Pym and Iron Man and became the second ANT MAN. Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish have written several drafts of the film adaptation but SCOTT PILGRIM had put the project on hold. With PILGRIM almost finished Feige reveals,

“Edgar was in LA last week, we sat down, and we started working on a calendar of when to get him back into it once he finishes promoting Scott Pilgrim, so I think towards the end of this year, early next year we’d start looking at early prep for that, but certainly for a release date after The Avengers.

So even though ANT-MAN is a long way off (I’d wager on a 2013 release being planned) it is still happening. Edgar Wright is a more than capable director and based on the PILGRIM teaser trailer, looks as if he can handle a larger budget superhero film such as this.