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    With Thor: The Dark World due to arrive on Blu-ray and DVD next month, we're starting to see plenty of the bonus features from the home-entertainment release; on Monday we saw Tom Hiddleston dressed as Captain America during the filming of Chris Evans' surprise cameo [see here], yesterday we caught a glimpse of Hiddleston's original screen test for the role of the God of Thunder [see here], and now thanks to USA Today we have a deleted scene featuring Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and his mother Frigga (Rene Russo) discussing the God of Mischief...

    "Thor: The Dark World continues the big-screen adventures of Thor, the Mighty Avenger, as he battles to save Earth and all the Nine Realms from a shadowy enemy that predates the universe itself. In the aftermath of Marvel's "Thor" and "Marvel's The Avengers," Thor fights to restore order across the cosmos...but an ancient race led by the vengeful Malekith returns to plunge the universe back into darkness. Faced with an enemy that even Odin and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor must embark on his most perilous and personal journey yet, one that will reunite him with Jane Foster and force him to sacrifice everything to save us all."

    Thor: The Dark World is released on DVD and Blu-ray on February 24th in the UK and February 25th in North America, with Alan Taylor (Game of Thrones) directing a cast that also includes Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgard, Idris Elba, Ray Stevenson, Jaimie Alexander, Tadanobu Asano, Kat Dennings, Zachary Levi, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Christopher Eccleston. 

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    With a first teaser trailer expected this February, two new promotional images have been released for the upcoming live-action series Street Fighter: Assassin's Fist featuring the iconic Street Fighter characters Ryu (Mike Moh) and Ken (Christian Howard)...

    Street Fighter: Assassin's Fist

    Street Fighter: Assassin's Fist

    This thrilling, multi layered series will take the audience back to the formative years of the iconic characters, Ryu and Ken, as they live a traditional warrior’s life in secluded Japan. The boys are, unknowingly, the last practitioners of the ancient fighting style known as ‘Ansatsuken’ (Assassin’s Fist). The series follows them as they learn about the mysterious past of their Master, Gouken, and the tragic and dark legacy of the Ansatsuken style. Can their destiny be changed…or will history repeat itself? 

    Street Fighter: Assassin's Fist has been produced by the team behind the unofficial YouTube short StreetFighter: Legacy and is set to arrive later this year.

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    Trevor Hogg chats with Chris Dingess about his fateful encounter with the world of comic books...

    “One of my brothers used to paint as a hobby, but that’s about it,” states Chris Dingess when discussing whether or not he comes from an artist family.    “However, my parents took in and became guardians to this kid who went to high school with my brother; he had a talent for drawing and painting, and was great at copying comics and mimicking different artists.  I was already into comics before he moved into the house, but he really kicked my interest up to the next level.  Plus he was way into Conan and Frazetta artwork and got me into that stuff.”  The love for comics started early on in life for Dingess who grew up in Accokeek, Maryland.  “My folks owned a small market in my town.   I’d go there, sit in the back room, eat junk food, and read.  I reread those books so much that they all kind of stick in my head.  Two that really left an impression were Ghost Rider and The Hands of Shang Chi Master of Kung-Fu.  The covers of Ghost Rider and Conan were always nuts.  I don’t even remember the stories super well, but I remember the artwork, which was dark and creepy. Actually, there were some issues of ROM that were around to that were really creepy.  I think they had the Dire Wraiths in them!  I liked some goofy stuff too.  I was a sucker for Marvel-Two-In-One with The Thing.  I read the #7 annual where he boxes the Champion and issue #96 when he’s in the hospital afterwards.  I don’t know why, but they were goofy and I loved it!”

    “It’s a huge business and comic book publishers are here to make money, especially the bigger houses,” notes Chris Dingess.  “They can’t not look at how much money is to be made from other media and merchandising.  [Now excuse me while I take a sip from my slurpee in a Thor: The Dark World Slurpee cup.]”  With the success of The Dark Knight (2008) and The Avengers (2012), comic books adaptations have achieved blockbuster status.  “I guess it’s a ‘golden age.’ I wish this had happened when I was a kid and could enjoy them more.  As far as where they go?  It’s an endless blue sky for that as long as they keep making money.  Isn’t it? I don’t know where they go from here.  I do enjoy them and think they’re neat and then kind of forget about them.  The direction I find weird is that a lot of them are going darker and more adult, yet they’re still marketed for kids.  It’s the same with books too.”  When questioned as to his favourite comic book movie, Dingess asks, “Does Ghost World [2001] count?  Hellboy [2004] is really good too.  Damn.  I hate ‘favourites.’  Here’s a quick and ever-changing top 5: Ghost World, Hellboy, The Dark Knight Rises [2012], X-Men: First Class [2011] and Blade [1998] or Blade 2[2002]I was really hungover when I watched them.”

    Being an experienced television screenwriter responsible for shows such as Being Human (SyFy, 2011 to present] and Men in Trees (ABC, 2006 to 2008) has assisted Chris Dingess in creating his debut comic book series Manifest Destiny.  “An episode of TV is usually around six acts.  So I’m sort of plotting out my story arcs for the comic series in six acts, with each book being an act.  I want to end each book with something that keeps the reader coming back the same way I want an act of TV to keep the viewer from changing the channel.  It’s also helped me with dialogue.  I read some comics and the dialogue is stuff that barely fits in the speech balloon and would never come out of a mouth.  I like to keep the dialogue as real as possible, as though I’m expecting an actor to have to say it on camera and not glare and fight with me about it between takes.”  Dingess has taken a historical event that occurred in 1804 where Captain Meriwether Lewis and Second Lieutenant William Clark set out on an expedition to explore the American frontier and added a fanciful twist to their adventures. “I was bitching about all the supernatural alternate history stuff out there now and this idea struck me.  I do like that people back in the day did believe that creatures, like dinosaurs and woolly mammoths, could still be out in the wilderness.”

    Swamp Thing and the film Creepshow [1982] are a big inspiration for some of the creatures found in this first story arc,” explains Chris Dingess.  “In my mind, before Matt [Roberts] worked his magic, I was visualizing the art, landscape and characters from Michael Mann’s version of The Last of the Mohicans [1992].  As far as stories go, I’m sure I’ve ripped off a ton of stuff without thinking about it.”  Some historical research was conducted for the project.  “Not a ton.  I will peek at the journals to get a sense of time and space.  I watched some documentaries on the actual mission.  I also check some stuff out online for equipment and weapons.  I believe Matt has done more thorough research for his art.”  A creative challenge was to merge the historical and pulp fiction elements into a tale that resonates with current times.  “For me, it’s been keeping the characters as human as possible.  Everyone is real and has faults and doesn’t always deal with situation in the best way.  People of every time period can be jerks.”  The real Lewis and Clark were not used as role models for their comic book personas.  “I’m not basing their personalities on any factual accounts.  I’m kind of trying to jam my thoughts on what attitudes and characteristics might be prevalent in that era into the two of them, and the other characters as well.”

    “It starts with Sean Mackiewicz,” explains Chris Dingess.  “I send him my outlines and scripts.  Sean is great at seeing ahead of time how a story will read, look and how a reader might react; he then gives well thought out notes and questions.  I then look at his thoughts and questions, and get outraged and rant to myself about how no one understands me and I prepare to fight to the death defending my work.  I call Sean who quickly deflates me because he’s a rational and decent person.  We have a calm conversation and explain our thought and by the end we’ve come up with a mutual idea that we can agree is cool, strong, and will be fun to see illustrated.  I hang up and feel bad for all the things I said in my imaginary argument.   Matt and I talk on the phone sometimes.  So far it’s been amazing because I will write something in a panel description and then, a little while later, I will see art where what I was seeing in my mind will be represented almost to a T.  Every once in a while Matt will call and say, ‘Hey, here’s what I’m thinking about this.’ He’ll draw it and it will be awesome.  The creepy beautiful skull flowers in issue one are an example of that.  That was all Matt; he’s amazing.  After that it becomes a group activity.  Owen [Gieni] shows us what he’s thinking and everyone throws their thoughts in.  Usually, it’s already spot on and then we keep moving.”

    A pivotal female figure appearing in Manifest Destiny goes by the name of Sacagawea.  “I simply wanted to put a twist on the character that we read about,” remarks Chris Dingess.  “They said she was a guide and interpreter.  I wanted to make her more.  I wanted her to be a warrior who saves the crews’ lives a lot.  I get nervous about making her the stock character of the ‘magical Indian’ but I also want to give her a great amount of inner strength because she has witnessed greater suffering than most of the other characters.  The same goes for York, Clark’s slave.  You have to walk a tightrope with these two characters.”  Other historical figures will make an appearance in the series.  “Not too many on the trail but maybe some political figures in flashback, which are difficult to fit in because there is some much happening in the current timeline.”  As for what is essential in creating a memorable introduction for a character, Dingess confesses, “I don’t know.  Give them a splash page showing them diving down on a Buffalotaur camp?”

    “Lewis’s journal has helped a lot with that as far as pushing plot goes,” states Chris Dingess.  “It allows me to frame and re-frame the story with ever issue.  As far as character exposition goes, this crew hasn’t known each other forever, so there will be conversation where they reveal more and more about themselves… and then the conversation will be interrupted by a creature on a murderous rampage.”  Dingess reveals, “The comic is based on the actual journal and the idea of keeping two journals was part of the very early nucleus for this book.”  Successful character narration relies on not revealing everything at once.  “For me it’s keeping some mystery to the character and watching how you dole out the information.  At a certain point, people have to care for them, too.  That’s the trick in this book, because everyone’s kind of a bastard.”

    Essential ingredients for producing an engaging story are drama, romance, humour, and action.  “Finding the mix is something that happens organically,” observes Chris Dingess.  “I will write the scene, then go back and think about it and the dialogue.  Is this really the place for a joke?  He they really be in the right frame of mind to say something this clever? Would they really flirt? I’ve often found that when it’s really hitting the fan, people are more inclined to say one dumb word before fight or flight kicks in.  There’s rarely a super clever monologue.  Sometimes you have to do that, but it usually doesn’t work for me.  And a lot of it comes down to pacing.  When I started, one of the first things Robert Kirkman [The Walking Dead] got me to figure out is what happens on each page.  Then, you know how to parcel out the character stuff, the romance and punctuate it with action.”  Manifest Destiny explores a particular idea. “The theme I’m most interested in with this book is selfishness vs. selflessness [Is that even a word?].  The mission itself is a selfish one: conquer the land for whitey and a good deal of the men involved are selfish personally.  But as they move forward and come together, hopefully they’ll be able to shed some selfishness and embrace brotherhood.  And will that affect the mission as a whole?  As far as monsters go… I CAN’T TELL YOU THAT!  Obviously, we might see a Sasquatch.  I dunno.  But be warned that will be waaaaaay down the road.”  Dingess remarks, “I hope for it to evolve past the smaller monster missions and get into the greater mystery: what waits for this crew once they reach the other end of the continent?”

    Photo courtesy of Chris Dingess and Manifest Destiny images courtesy of Image Comics.

    Many thanks to Chris Dingess for taking the time for this interview.

    Make sure to visit the official website for Image Comics to learn more about Manifest Destiny as well as Chris Dingess on Twitter.

    Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada. 

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    There's been a lot of talk lately that Earth's Mightiest Heroes will be heading to South Korea when production gets underway on Joss Whedon's eagerly-anticipated sequel The Avengers: Age of Ultron, and now it's been reported that Korean actress and supermodel Kim Soo Hyun (a.k.a. Yoo Ri El) has been cast in the film.

    According to KDramaStars, "if Kim Soo Hyun is cast, she will play a doctor who assists Tony Stark/Iron Man, played by Robert Downey Jr. Previous reports said that she would play a villain but now it is known that she will only start out working for Ultron, played by James Spader, then will shift her allegiance to good guy Tony Stark."

    The Avengers: Age of Ultron will bring the curtain down on Marvel's Phase Three and is set to see Robert Downey Jr. and James Spader joined in the cast by returning stars Chris Evans (Captain America), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Mark Ruffalo (The Incredible Hulk), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Don Cheadle (War Machine), Cobie Smulders (Maria Hill) and Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury) alongside MCU newcomers Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene) as Scarlet Witch, Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass 2) as Quicksilver and Thomas Kretschmann (Dracula) as Baron Strucker.

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    Screen Junkies have posted their latest 'honest trailer' - a four minute or so piece of film criticism using the 'In a world...' voiceover style - where this time they've got their targets locked onto the new RoboCop movie (by talking about how good the original is).

    In their deconstruction of next month's big sci-fi release, they explore...

    -that PG-13 rating.

    -the original's love for defenestration (google it).

    -and the 'Most. Blood squibs. Ever.'

    RoboCop is directed by Jose Padilha (Elite Squad) and stars Joel Kinnaman (The Killing), Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight Rises), Samuel L. Jackson (The Avengers), Michael Keaton (Batman), Abbie Cornish (Sucker Punch), Jay Baruchel (Knocked Up), Aimee Garcia (Dexter), Michael K. Williams (The Wire), Jennifer Ehle (Zero Dark Thirty), Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen) and Miguel Ferrer (Iron Man 3).

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    With its March release date fast approaching, Paramount Pictures has unveiled a new poster for Darren Aronofsky's upcoming epic Noah, which features Russell Crowe as the eponymous Biblical hero...

    New poster for Noah featuring Russell Crowe

    Crowe is joined in the cast of Noah by Jennifer Connelly (Requiem for a Dream), Douglas Booth (Romeo and Juliet), Logan Lerman (Percy Jackson), Emma Watson (Harry Potter), Anthony Hopkins (Thor: The Dark World), Ray Winstone (Snow White and the Huntsman), Kevin Durand (Resident Evil: Retribution), Marton Csokas (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) and Dakota Goyo (Real Steel).

    Noah is set for release on March 28th.

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    The Sundance Film Festival 2014 finished at the weekend, but it's influence will surely reign over the cinematic landscape for the rest of the year. Like Kings of Summer in 2013, the festival usually showcases the biggest indie hits before they get a theatrical release.

    One of the interesting things about Sundance, particularly for a festival, is that it almost has its own genre and set of aesthetics. Echoey prog rock score, handheld cameras, socially conscious narratives - they are all tropes wonderfully lampooned in the below video, a mock trailer for 'Not Another Sundance Movie.'

    Read a few of the nicely-observed review 'quotes' before you dive in...

    "Hit me right in my white guilt." - Prospect Park Picayune

    "Fit perfectly into my political agenda." - Silver Lake Enquirer

     "So many vintage pickup trucks!"- Blonde Surfer Guy from TMZ

    It's Michael Cera's best performance yet.

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    Richard Linklater is a hard director to pin down. Just when you think you've got him figured out, he makes something completely different to his last project. His last five movies have been Boyhood (Ellar Coltrane, Particia Arquette), Before Midnight (Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy), Bernie (Jack Black, Matthew McConaughey), Me and Orson Welles (Zac Efron, Christian McKay) and A Scanner Darkly (Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey Jr.).

    Wait! That's it! His last three movies all began with the letter 'B'. So that's what sort of a director he is. He transcends traditional...huh? His next film is The Incredible Mr Limpet? Which is about a man who can turn into a fish? Auteur theory, be damned.

    Linklater will remake the 1964 live-action/animation hybrid. At least there's a small bit of consistency with the director's filmography. Femke Wolting and Tommy Pallotta are onboard, who are the filmmakers responsible for the rotoscoping work on Linklater's Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly.

    Zack Galifianakis (The Hangover, Muppets Most Wanted) will reportedly take the lead role. For a little taster of the film, here's an advert for the original movie. They don't make trailers like this anymore. There ain't a single Inception bwaaarm noise in the entire thing...

    Linklater's new film, Boyhood, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last week. It stars Ethan Hawke, Particia Arquette and Ellar Coltrane. The movie was shot over 12 years, showing the characters age in real time. The theatrical release date has not yet been announced.

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    Warner Bros. Pictures has released the third official TV spot for Noam Murro's upcoming sword and sandals sequel 300: Rise of an Empire, which you can check out right here...

    Based on Frank Miller's latest graphic novel Xerxes, and told in the breathtaking visual style of the blockbuster 300, this new chapter of the epic saga takes the action to a fresh battlefield - on the sea - as Greek general Themistokles attempts to unite all of Greece by leading the charge that will change the course of the war. 300: Rise of an Empire pits Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) against the massive invading Persian forces led by mortal-turned-god Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), and Artemisia (Eva Green), vengeful commander of the Persian navy.

    300: Rise of an Empire also features returning 300 stars Lena Headey and David Wenham alongside Jack O'Connell (Skins), Hans Matheson (Clash of the Titans) and Callan Mulvey (Zero Dark Thirty). 

    300: Rise of an Empire opens on March 7th.

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    UK box office top ten and analysis for the weekend of Friday 24th to Sunday 26th January 2014....

    Despite competition from the spy thriller Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Oscar contenders The Wolf of Wall Street and 12 Years a Slave were unchanged at the top of the UK box office, with Martin Scorsese's Wall Street comedy holding on to first place with £3.6 million, and Steve McQueen's slavery drama retaining second place with £2.2 million.

    The Kenneth Branagh-directed Jack Ryan reboot was the highest new entry of the week, taking third place with £1,278,187, while the Coen brothers'Inside Llewyn Davis debuted in sixth with £757,966 ahead of John Wells' stage adaptation August: Osage County, which opened in seventh with £537,310. However, there was (further) disappointment for Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro, with the boxing comedy Grudge Match falling outside the top ten with an opening weekend of just £265,643.

    Number one this time last year: Les Miserables

    1. The Wolf of Wall Street, £3,608,968 weekend; £10,903,399 total (2 weeks)
    2. 12 Years a Slave, £2,235,837 weekend; £11,039,927 total (3 weeks)
    3. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, £1,278,187 weekend; (New)
    4. Frozen, £1,103,905 weekend; £35,581,127 total (8 weeks)
    5. American Hustle, £997,259 weekend; £11,213,740 total (4 weeks)
    6. Inside Llewyn Davis, £757,966 weekend (New)
    7. August: Osage County, £537,310 weekend (New)
    8. Last Vegas, £471,757 weekend; £6,280,154 total (4 weeks)
    9. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, £426,313 weekend; £42,388,688 total (7 weeks)
    10. Devil's Due, £375,585 weekend; £1,777,150 total (2 weeks)


    Several new films enter the marketplace this week, with I, Frankenstein (cert. 15), Out of the Furnace (cert. 15) and That Awkward Moment (cert. 15) [read our review here] all opening today, followed by Lone Survivor (cert. 15) [read our review here] and documentary The Armstrong Lie (cert. 15) [read our review here] on Friday.

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    Justice League: War is yet to hit shelves, but promotional is already well underway on the next instalment of the DC Universe Animated Original Movies series; Warner Bros. has already debuted the trailer and cover art for Son of Batman, and now we have a list of the special features set to accompany the direct-to-video release, including a sneak peek at the next feature, Batman: Assault on Arkham...

    Blu-ray Special Features:
    -Strange Blood Ties
    -Damian Wayne, The Fang, and the Demon Head: The League of Assassins
    -Designing the Characters with Phil Bourassa
    -A Sneak Peek at DCU Batman: Assault on Arkham
    -Masterpiece: Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns Sneak Peek
    -4 Bonus Cartoons:
    –From the DC Comics Vault: Batman Beyond, "Out of the Past"
    –From the DC Comics Vault: Batman: The Brave and the Bold, "The Knights of Tomorrow!"
    –From the DC Comics Vault: Batman: The Animated Series, “Showdown”
    –From the DC Comics Vault: Batman: The Brave and the Bold, “Sidekicks Assemble!”
    -Includes UltraViolet so you can enjoy the film on many different compatible devices.

    Single-Disc DVD Features: -A Sneak Peek at DCU Batman: Assault on Arkham
    -Masterpiece: Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns Sneak Peek

    "Batman is shocked to learn that not only does he have a son, but the boy’s mother is Talia, the daughter of the international overlord, Ra’s Al Ghul. Nevertheless, the Dark Knight and his willful boy (as the new Robin) becomes uneasy allies when Talia enlists a team of ninja man-bats on a criminal enterprise with international consequences."

    Son of Batman is based upon 'Batman and Son' by Grant Morrison, and has been adapted by Joe R. Lansdale (Bubba Ho-Tep), with Ethan Spaulding directing. Featuring in the voice cast are Jason O'Mara (Justice League: War) as Bruce Wayne / Batman, Stuart Allan (Rise of the Guardians) as Damian Wayne / Robin, Morena Baccarin (Homeland) as Talia, Giancarlo Esposito (Once Upon a Time) as Ra's Al Ghul, David McCallum (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) as Alfred Pennyworth, Xander Berkeley (24) as Kirk Langstrom / Man-Bat and Thomas Gibson (Criminal Minds) as Deathstroke / Slade Wilson. It is set for release on May 6th.

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    Yesterday we got our first real glimpse at the redesigned Teenage Mutant Ninha Turtles from the upcoming Michael Bay-produced live action remake, along with their nemesis Shredder [see here], but now we have a much better look via some promotional artwork that's currently on display at a Toy Expo. Check it out here courtesy of ComicBookTherapy....

    Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is directed by Jonathan Liebesman (Wrath of the Titans), with Megan Fox (Transformers) as April O'Neil, Alan Ritchson (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) as Raphael, Pete Ploszek (Parks and Recreation) as Leonardo, Jeremy Howard (How the Grinch Stole Christmas) as Donatello, Noel Fisher (Battle Los Angeles) as Michaelangelo, Danny Woodburn (Seinfeld) as Splinter, Will Arnett (Arrested Development) as Vernon Fenwick and William Fichtner (The Lone Ranger) as Shredder. The film is due for release on August 8th in North America and October 17th here in the UK.

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    Despite being critical and commercial poison for the best part of a decade, Deadline is reporting that M. Night Shyamalan has somehow managed to secure another job, with the filmmaker set to reteam with The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable star Bruce Willis for Labor of Love.

    Based upon one of the first scripts Shyamalan sold to Hollywood back in 1993, Labor of Love will be financed by Emmet/Furla/Oasis, who presumably enjoy throwing their money away, or are in desperate need of a tax write-off after the box office success of Lone Survivor. Either way, here's Deadline's summary of the plot:

    "Willis will play a Philadelphia book store owner who loses the love of  his life in a tragic accident. Never big on words, he becomes haunted by the notion that he never properly told his wife how much he loved her. Since she once asked if he would walk across the country for her, he decides to show her posthumously just how much he did love her. That trek starts from Philadelphia to Pacifica, CA, which was her favorite place."

    At this point, I'd usually ask if you're excited to see Shyamalan reteaming with Willis, but the bigger question is, how does this man keep getting work?

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    Not content with dropping 25 exclusive covers from X-Men: Days of Future Past earlier this week [which you can see here], Empire has now debuted four new stills from the upcoming mutant superhero sequel, giving us new shots of Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Magneto (Ian McKellen), Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page), Iceman (Shawn Ashmore), Colossus (Daniel Cudmore) and Sunspot (Adan Canto)...

    The ultimate X-Men ensemble fights a war for the survival of the species across two time periods in X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST. The beloved characters from the original “X-Men” film trilogy join forces with their younger selves from “X-Men: First Class,” in an epic battle that must change the past – to save our future.

    X-Men: Days of Future Past is set for release on May 23rd with a cast that includes James McAvoy (Professor X), Michael Fassbender (Magneto),Nicholas Hoult (Beast), Patrick Stewart (Professor X), Ian McKellen (Magneto), Lucas Till (Havok), Halle Berry (Storm), Evan Peters (Quicksilver), Booboo Stewart (Warpath), Fan Binbing (Blink), Josh Helman (Stryker), Evan Jonigkeit (Toad) and Peter Dinklage (Bolivar Trask).

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    Matt Smith reviews the second episode of The Following season 2...

    The Following Season 2 - Episode 2 Review
    With the sensational prologue played out on our screens last week, it’s time to settle down and set out stall. Now is the time to set up for the series to come. So, in a dump of possible plot avenues perhaps rivalled only by the movie Prometheus, questions without answers are behind every corner with this week’s episode of The Following.

    The series, and the characters themselves, seem to be hiding things from its audience. When did Joe Carroll meet his new family? How much does he know about the new branches of his cult? Did the producers think they’d get it past the audience in creating an almost-exact copy of Agent Parker from the first series? And, in the fantastic paranoia-filled tone of the series, who is the lone survivor of the first episode’s train massacre, really?

    While she could be a follower, it looks at the moment like she’s filling the shoes of Claire Matthews, the murdered former love of Hardy’s life death being somewhat skipped over in last week’s episode. And that’s where this week’s episode feels a bit cold, as each character that was cut from the previous series seems to have been replaced. They even have a young child for Hardy to rescue this week. And with a fantastically obvious piece of exposition, Agent Parker is replaced. Hopefully this series is something new, as opposed to just retracing steps.

    The window into Joe’s new life, as he attempts to hide away with a new family, is interesting as he fields questions about why he’s a killer. With events of this week, it’s almost as if the titles of this week’s and last week’s episode (‘For Joe’ and ‘Resurrection’ respectively) should have been switched, as the murders committed in honour of Joe have revitalised him in the most sinister way possible.

    Something that does make a welcome return is Joe Carroll’s twisting, turning style of delivery. At times a snake, at times as if twisted by one, James Purefoy’s performance of a stumbling, self-questioning leader is probably the most layered character at this point, closely followed by Kevin Bacon’s Ryan Hardy. Purefoy’s stumbling delivery is at times equally comical and frightening as he struggles to decide what to do. What will happen when a man with such obvious power over people doesn’t quite know what his plan should be?

    Ryan Hardy is a lot more driven. Chasing through the streets after getting hit by a car last week, it’s almost as if his pacemaker doesn’t make the slightest difference to his physicality anymore. He’s fighting off criminals like the pacemaker isn’t even there. He and every other protagonist should have realised by now, however, that call traces never work as they’re supposed to.

    To sum up this episode, the tone of the overall series is just about maintained but it suffers from an overabundance of setting up plot points and character arcs. New characters are also set up but relationships seem too similar to the first series for them to matter that much. Really, it’s more about whether The Following can give a good enough pay off for the stumbles of this episode to be worth it. From previous efforts I’d be willing to bet it will be worth it, but only time will tell.

    Matt Smith - follow me on Twitter.

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    Anghus Houvouras on Quentin Tarantino vs. Gawker...

    I'm a Quentin Tarantino fan.  First and foremost I feel like declaring that because any time you lob criticism towards somebody, people immediately assume you have an ax to grind or a grudge to build upon.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The highest compliment I was ever paid in my career was a critic calling one of my films "halfway to Tarantino".  Even getting halfway to a man I consider a cinematic genius felt like high praise.  Inglorious Basterds and Pulp Fiction are comfortably nestled in my top ten list of favorite films.  I like the guy and greatly respect what he does.

    So like most of you I was excited when I heard about the prospect of his next film The Hateful Eightgoing into production.  I was equally disappointed when I heard he was shelving the whole thing due to an unfortunate script leak that has apparently set him into a state of furious anger.  For me, that was pretty much where it ended.  Tarantino had a new film in the works.  Said film gets put on hold due to shenanigans, and the future remains unclear as to what Mr. Tarantino was going to do next. 

    Then another story dropped this past week.  Apparently Tarantino is suing the popular muckraking site Gawker for leaking his screenplay.  For some, this is the kind of no holds barred fistfight that internet news sites exist for.  A popular filmmaker takes on a tabloid.  The righteous artist trying to take out his anger on the faceless corporate entity that abandoned the concept of journalistic integrity from the moment of inception. 

    So why don't I care? 

    Why is my first thought "just make a movie already"? 

    Maybe its because this kind of behind the scenes nonsense holds no entertainment value for me.  I want to see Tarantino movies.   I want violent retribution on the big screen, not in a civil courtroom.  Maybe it would be different if it involved the Vega Brothers storming into the Gawker offices or The Bride going medieval on their asses.  But this kind of intellectual battle is kind of a snoozer.   It's time wasted that he could spend making another excellent film.  This kind of thing is antithetical to the creative process.  While I won't begrudge Tarantino his right to exact legal vengeance, I will say that the longer this goes on the more his righteous indignation feels less righteous and more indignant. 

    No one is going to take Gawker's side on this.  And the only thing to be won here is money and/or enacting a principle.  We live in an age where scripts get leaked and to be honest, very few people even read them.  The hardcore fans and the websites looking to generate page views do, but the average movie fan could care less.  This is a fight that will end without anyone on either side winning.  Scripts will still be leaked.  Tabloids will still play dirty.  The losers are those of us waiting for the next Tarantino movie and will apparently be punished because a talented filmmaker doesn't like the way the media plays this particular game, so he's taking his toys and going home.

    That my friends, is disappointing.

    Anghus Houvouras is a North Carolina based writer and filmmaker. His latest work, the novel My Career Suicide Note, is available from Amazon.

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    From the moment that Emma Stone was cast as Gwen Stacy in Sony's rebooted Spider-Man universe, there's been speculation amongst fans that the character will suffer a similar fate to that of The Amazing Spider-Man #121. This only intensified when Shailene Woodley was cast as Mary Jane Watson in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and while Woodley's MJ has since been cut from the film, there is the fact that Stone was spotted wearing very familiar attire during production of the upcoming sequel.

    So, could we see comic book history playing out on the big screen? Well, here's what Stone herself had to say during a call to On Air with Ryan Seacrest:

    "Basically they’re going to see the continuation of the Spider Man story, which is the hero’s journey, and he’s up against a whole new squadron of villains and he’s struggling with promises he’s made in the last movie and the consequences of making those and what it’s like to be in love with somebody who you promised to not see anymore. I think the intention the whole time has been to tell Gwen’s story has closely to the comic as possible."

    Do you think The Amazing Spider-Man 2 will play out like the comic books, or could Marc Webb trick us by deviating from the source material? Apparently we'll find out more when Sony teases Gwen's fate in a new clip this Thursday...

    The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is set for release on April 18th 2014 in the UK and May 2nd 2014 in North America with a cast that also includes Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Paul Giamatti, Dane DeHaan, Sally Field, Chris Cooper, Felicity Jones, Colm Feore, B.J. Novak, Chris Zylka, Embeth Davidtz, and Campbell Scott.

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    20th Century Fox has released the first trailer for director Josh Boone's (Stuck in Love) adaptation of John Green's New York Times =#1 bestseller The Fault in Our Stars, and you can check it out below after the official synopsis...

    "Hazel and Gus are two extraordinary teenagers who share an acerbic wit, a disdain for the conventional, and a love that sweeps them -- and us – on an unforgettable journey.  Their relationship is all the more miraculous,  given that they met and fell in love at a cancer support group. THE FAULT IN OUR STARS explores the funny, thrilling and tragic business of being alive and in love."

    The Fault in Our Stars features Shailene Woodley (Divergent) and Ansel Elgort (Carrie) as Hazel and Gus, while the rest of the cast includes Nat Wolff (Stuck in Love), Laura Dern (Jurassic Park), Sam Trammell (True Blood) and Willem Dafoe (Out of the Furnace).

    The Fault in Our Stars is set for release on June 6th in North America and June 20th here in the UK.

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    Writer/director Troy Duffy, famous for introducing the world to the cult sensation of The Boondock Saints, tweeted out the first page to his newest script The Boondock Saints III recently.

    The Boondock Saints had a long road to becoming the nationally recognized success it is today. In the late 90s, then bartender and low level rocker Troy Duffy was offered a very generous deal by Miramax and Harvey Weinstein to make his first feature film. He was to be given $300,000 for his script, a $15 million budget along with final cut and final casting decisions and Weinstein even offered to buy Duffy the bar he worked in so they could co-own it together. The wannabe filmmaker’s overnight success rocked movie news outlets everywhere.

    However, it wasn’t long before the film deal fell apart and Duffy was nearly ostracized from Hollywood for his antics (shown in a rather biased fashion in the documentary Overnight) and for his film’s religious overtones and politically incorrect ways.

    The man managed to make his movie, but it was blacklisted from theaters after the Columbine school shootings. Despite this, it went on to become a cult classic earning around $100 million on home video and it continues to sell over a million copies a year.

    After a lawsuit was settled for home video profits, Duffy followed up his classic with a sequel which was released in 2009. Since then, fans have been pining for a follow up and capper to the vigilante trilogy. The first solid news about a third Boondock Saints film came the other day when Duffy used his Twitter account to reveal the first page to the script of the third Boondock movie to his fans.

    The opening page reveals a lot of questions about the third film since it opens with a scene set in 1997 meaning the film will examine a time in the brothers’ lives before the original movie.

    There’s still no official word yet on when we will ever see the third Boondock movie, but one must assume Duffy is going to announce something official soon if he was willing to tweet out a nugget of the script to fans.

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    Luke Owen reviews the latest issue of Godzilla: Rulers of Earth...

    The biggest monster fight to grace the comic book page hits in this climactic issue! Lucy and Woods converge on the site of an epic monster brawl as the aliens launch a last ditch effort to rule the Earth!

    As discussed in the review of Godzilla: Rulers of Earth #6 in which Godzilla did battle with Orga and Gigan, the team of Chris Mowry and Matt Frank clearly have a love for all things to do with the King of the Monsters. What has been refreshing about this series has been the duo's lack of fear in using so-called b-level (or even c-level) characters from the franchise and a quick glance at the cover for Godzilla: Rulers of Earth #9 will attest to this. But as you delve into the comic further, it becomes even more clear.

    1989's Godzilla vs. Biollante is a strange anomaly within the franchise's history as it's a movie that has a lot of love from the fanbase, but the titular character itself has been rarely seen outside of it. Save for a couple of comic book or video game appearances, Biollante has become somewhat of a forgotten kaiju with the only knowledge of his existence known by those who have seen the movie. But like they did with Orga back in Godzilla: Rulers of Earth #6 and Jet Jaguar in the following issue, Mowry and Frank have breathed new life into the beast.

    His design is much slicker and frankly more terrifying. There's a big emphasis on his lack of pupils (like The Big G himself in Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack) and this only intensifies his personality and ruthlessness. The fight scene between him and Godzilla is superb with some wonderfully choreographed set pieces that enhance everything that made Biollante an interesting character to begin with. Furthermore, the exclusion of his movie version's backstory to a much simpler "alien-controlled-kaiju" means we don't have to spend an entire issue explaining his genesis through exposition. While some of the hardcore fans may be disappointed to read this, it can't be argued that Godzilla: Rulers of Earth isn't at its best when kaiju do battle.

    This has been a Godzilla series written by Godzilla fans for Godzilla fans. Familiar faces like Mothra and King Ghidorah have taken a backseat to let some of the lesser appreciated kaiju come to the forefront. It has been great to see the likes of Jet Jaguar, Gezora and even Zilla be given a chance to shine and Mowry's clear love of the franchise has made this possible. He ignores their reputation and just makes them as cool as he can with a huge level of success. The aforementioned cover teases appearances from Giara and Sanda from the Toho produced non-Godzilla flick War of the Gargantuas and the next issue looks to have a showdown between Megalon and King Caesar, two other Godzilla characters who aren't seen as big players.

    It's becoming repetitive to say review after review, but Mowry and Frank have once again knocked Godzilla: Rulers of Earth #8 out of the park. It's so much fun to read and if you're a Godzilla fan then you'll get a real kick out of it 60s sci-fi vibe. Any duo who can make Jet Jaguar a reputable character should be given huge accolades by the kaiju community as they continue to create what has been one of the most fun Godzilla comic series in recent times.

    Luke Owen is one of Flickering Myth's co-editors and the host of the Flickering Myth Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @LukeWritesStuff.

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