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Movies, TV and Comic Books

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    By May 2015, Scarlett Johansson will have made her fourth appearance as Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with upcoming roles in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The Avengers: Age of Ultron adding to her appearances in Iron Man 2 and The Avengers, and according to Kevin Feige, we might get to see the S.H.I.E.L.D. spy headlining her very own movie...

    "We start filming the next Avengers film at the end of March," Feige tells Total Film (via CBM). "[Black] Widow's part in that is very big. We learn more about her past and learn more about where she came from and how she became in that film. The notion of exploring that even further in her own film would be great, and we have some development work with that."

    Meanwhile, Feige also touched upon the implications of the upcoming Captain America: The Winter Soldier on Joss Whedon's Avengers sequel: "We wanted to change the dynamic of the cinematic universe with this film. We wanted Cap and really the entire cinematic universe to be very different at the end of Winter Solider than it is at the beginning. Therefore when we meet the Avengers at the top of Age of Ultron, it's a very different landscape than we left them at the end of the film film. Partially that's because we love the rhythm that the comic books have developed - each of the characters appear in their runs, occasionally they get together for a big event or crossover series, they part again, and then they come back together again."

    Captain America: The Winter Soldier is set for release on March 26th in the UK and April 4th in North America, while The Avengers: Age of Ultron will bring the curtain down on Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe on May 1st 2015.


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    With the first trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy being classified earlier this week, we shouldn't have long to wait before we get to feast our eyes on Marvel's cosmic superhero adventure for the very first time, and to whet our appetites some alleged concept animation of Rocket Raccoon and Groot has surfaced online; check it out via CBM...




    "From Marvel, the studio that brought you the global blockbuster franchises of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Avengers, comes a new team — the Guardians of the Galaxy. An action-packed, epic space adventure, Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the cosmos, where brash adventurer Peter Quill finds himself the object of an unrelenting bounty hunt after stealing a mysterious orb coveted by Ronan, a powerful villain with ambitions that threaten the entire universe. To evade the ever-persistent Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a quartet of disparate misfits — Rocket, a gun-toting raccoon, Groot, a tree-like humanoid, the deadly and enigmatic Gamora and the revenge-driven Drax the Destroyer. But when Peter discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must do his best to rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand — with the galaxy’s fate in the balance."

    Guardians of the Galaxy is set for release on August 1st, with James Gunn (Super) directing a cast that includesChris Pratt (Parks and Recreation) as Star-Lord, Zoe Saldana (Star Trek Into Darkness) as Gamora, Dave Bautista (Riddick) as Drax the Destroyer, Bradley Cooper (American Hustle) as Rocket Raccoon, Vin Diesel (Fast & Furious 6) as Groot, Benicio Del Toro (Sin City) as The Collector, Lee Pace (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey) as Ronan the Accuser, Karen Gillan (Doctor Who) as Nebula, Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond) as Korath, John C. Reilly (Step Brothers) as Rhomman Dey, and Glenn Close (Damages) as Nova Prime Rael.


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    Cast announced for Sharknado 2: The Second One
    SyFy enjoyed an unexpected monster hit last year with its ridiculously titled TV movie Sharknado, and now with production set to get underway next week on the equally-ridiculously titled sequel Sharkando 2: The Second One, the network has announced the cast for the follow-up.

    According to Deadline, returning stars Ian Zierling and Tara Reid will be joined in the cast of The Second One by Vivica A. Fox (Kill Bill) as Fin’s (Zierling) old high school friend Skye, Mark McGrath (Scooby-Doo) as Fin’s brother-in-law, Kelly Osbourne (The Osbournes) as a flight attendant, Andy Dick (Less Than Perfect) as a police officer, Judah Friedlander (30 Rock) as Brian, and Judd Hirsch (Taxi) as a taxi driver.

    Sharknado 2: The Second One will transfer the action to New York City and is expected to air - and presumably trend on Twitter - some time in July.


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    8 Minutes Idle, 2012.

    Directed by Mark Simon Hewis.
    Starring Tom Hughes, Ophelia Lovibond, Montserrat Lombard, Antonia Thomas, Jack Ashton, Pippa Haywood and Paul Kaye.


    SYNOPSIS:

    Dan loves the ‘easy life’ of a call-centre operator in Bristol, but unwelcome changes are forced upon him when his mother kicks him out of the family home. He also loves colleague Teri, but has more pressing concerns in the form of terrifying boss Alice, who has designs on her confused employee.


    8 Minutes Idle has had a painful route to the big screen. Funding issues have plagued the production, and though the movie had already been shot the producers had to turn to Kickstarter to give it a final push over the line when original distributors Revolver met their maker. After such a palaver to get it out, it would be a pity if it turned out not to have been worth the bother.

    The title refers to the time a call centre worker can take between calls before their employers start to believe they're a workshy layabout deserving the heave-ho. 8 Minutes Idle is set primarily in such a call centre, and it does a fine job of putting across the tedium and grind of taking calls from generally horrible people in bad moods, when you're not in the greatest of moods yourself.

    Central to the story is Dan, played by Tom Hughes, who begins the movie getting his head slammed in the fridge door by his own mother for a blunder involving his father and a stolen lottery ticket. This is the first of various MacGuffins used to push forward a story that, by itself, would likely fall into the type of listlessness so expertly epitomised by the somnolent Dan throughout. Dan has to move out, has nowhere to live but the office, and downhill things go from there.

    The film is billed as a romantic comedy, but the romance element is never really front and centre. Dan is smitten with the elusive Teri (Ophelia Lovibond) but also harbours a grim desire for malevolent management harridan Alice, played with majesty by Montserrat Lombard. The scenes in which Dan and Alice threaten to consummate their hideous passion for one another make for pleasingly uncomfortable viewing, culminating in a gruesome conclusion and doom for Dan's poor, put-upon cat.

    But the film is really aiming at comedy, and in this the acting is the key to 8 Minutes Idle's qualified success. The funny, likeable central characters are backed superbly by a cast of misfits, typifying the bizarre nature of life in Bristol. Jack Ashton is particularly heroic as Ian, in one scene pecking Dan half to death with an imaginary emu in an excellent example of physical comedy from both Ashton and Hughes. He also has cider on his cornflakes.

    The direction is very well judged, complementing the actors and playing to their strengths, while the production uses Bristol as a minor cast member to impressive effect. Plot-wise it's a messy film, perhaps in part due to the original source material (Matt Thorne's novel of 2001) having been chopped up by the author himself in a screenplay that has changed many times over the years. It takes no great pains to explain itself, or why the various characters do what they do with ever-increasing absurdity.

    Thankfully the acting is so often sublime that the film manages to ride on the coat-tails of its characters to a gently agreeable conclusion. The film is being released on a 'collapsed format' basis - it's available in cinemas, hard copy and online simultaneously. And, thankfully, it was just about worth the effort to get it there.

    Flickering Myth Rating - Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★

    Chris Lockie

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    Universal Pictures has announced that production is underway on Working Title Films'Everest, which is directed by Baltasar Kormákur (2 Guns, Contraband) and stars Jason Clarke (The Great Gatsby), Josh Brolin (No Country for Old Men), John Hawkes (Martha Marcy May Marlene), Jake Gyllenhaal (Brokeback Mountain), Martin Henderson (The Ring), Emily Watson (The Book Thief), Michael Kelly (House of Cards) and Thomas M. Wright (The Bridge). Here's the first still from the film, followed by the official synopsis...


    Inspired by the incredible events surrounding a treacherous attempt to reach the summit of the world’s highest mountain, EVEREST documents the awe-inspiring journey of two different expeditions challenged beyond their limits by one of the fiercest snowstorms ever encountered by mankind. Their mettle tested by the harshest of elements found on the planet, the climbers will face nearly impossible obstacles as a lifelong obsession becomes a breathtaking struggle for survival.

    Everest is set for release on February 27th, 2015.

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    RoboCop, 2014.

    Directed by José Padilha.

    Starring Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson, Abbie Cornish, Jackie Earle Haley and Michael K. Williams.


    SYNOPSIS: 

    Police officer Alex Murphy suffers horrific injuries in an explosion and is rebuilt and part-robot, part-man in a bid to combat growing levels of crime in Detroit. But RoboCop is haunted by his own past and the corruption of the system that has created him.


    I need to get something off my chest. If you approach this film expecting it to basically do everything the 1987 version did, then I don't know what to say to you. Surely the point of a remake is to try something new with the same basic idea? Take Batman for example; he has endured because there are so many variations on his story. So why can't RoboCop enjoy the same process of reinvention?

    Fortunately, José Padilha's English language debut generally makes wise choices, with several homages to the original classic only adding to the new story.

    The film begins with 'The Novak Report', which throughout the film takes some quite heavy handed swipes at both the media's control of our opinion and the way in which first world countries impose themselves on those deemed unruly. OCP drones in Tehran are shown putting down an attack with no fear, no questions, just action.

    Once again Alex Murphy (this time played by The Killing's Joel Kinnaman), is a devoted Father, Husband, and Police Officer who comes a cropper in the line of duty. Once his wife Clara (Abbie Cornish) gives her consent, Alex is used as part of a program to get a man inside a machine, which would allow Raymond Sellar's (Micheal Keaton!) conglomerate OCP to circumvent a government act preventing robots and drones being used on American soil.

    The first scenes of Alex awaking in his new body are heart-breaking. After his initial disbelief and anger, Alex asks the doctor who performed the procedure, Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman) to show him what is left of his former self. What follows is a technically impressive and gut wrenching scene, raising the question 'What makes you....you?'. Depression and sadness quite rightly pervade this impressive scene.

    Take note of where Alex is put together and tested too. Another not so subtle satirical swipe.

    After various tinkering (to varying degrees of moral ambiguity) and some combat training RoboCop is unveiled and proceeds to stamp down on crime, lowering rates in an unprecedented fashion. But will his humanity be able to compete with the robotics? You won't have needed to see the original to figure that one out.

    Action may be sparse, but works in relation to the story. To shoehorn in 'MOAR ACTION' would have ruined the more thoughtful and slower paced story. This film is just as much about the world and characters that come together to create a new face of law enforcement as it is the man himself.

    The cast is impressive. Scenes between Oldman and Keaton were high points, though how much of that is do with them both being Batman alumni I couldn't tell you. Sellars is a tricky character, with Keaton slowly peeling away the layers to reveal his malevolent nature. Norton on the other hand is extremely conflicted, with his morals questioned at every turn. You can see the torture on Oldman as he tries to do the right thing, but goes to increasingly dangerous lengths at the behest of Sellars.

    Kinnaman deserves a lot of credit for taking on the role so strongly tied to Peter Weller. Alex's transformation into RoboCop may push the boundaries of technology but also feels spot on emotionally. He owns this version of the character and I'd love to see more of him.

    The original is remembered for its hyper violence, a staple of director Paul Verhoeven. The 12A certificate attached to this version should tell you everything you need to know, but I found several scenes were really pushing the boundaries of what that certificate should allow. Regardless, gore isn't needed to tell this story and the action that is there was exciting and cool.

    I have no idea how well the film will do at the box office (though that rating should help), but I'm not sure if it even needs a sequel, as much as I'd like one. The story concludes at a natural point and I really hope someone has a really good idea before starting any follow up.

    It saddens me to think more people won't open up and accept a new version. We don't need to walk down the same path as before. Luckily the 2014 story has the balls to go its own way, and I really enjoyed it for that fact. I was very concerned when this film was announced as I love the first, so I understand any reticence. But put that to one side, stow away your nostalgia for the original (which isn't going anywhere by the way), and enjoy a fresh take.

    Flickering Myth Rating - Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★


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    Looks like animated fairy tale Frozen is on a hot streak and Gravity is going to be hard to pull away from at the Oscars after the members of the Visual Effects Society gather last night at Beverly Hilton to announce the winners of the 12th Annual VES Awards.  

    The event attended by 1000 guests was hosted by comedian Patton Oswalt (Ratatouille) with the awards being handed out by Grammy Award winning artist Pharrell Williams and actors Johnny Knoxville (Jackass), Bruce Boxleitner (Tron), Michael Ealy (Underworld: Awakening), Sophie Kennedy Clark (Dark Shadows), Jamie Kennedy (Son of the Mask), Sharon Lawrence (Hidden Palms), Richard Schiff (Se7en) and Alyssa Sutherland (Day on Fire). 


    The appearance of surprised presenter Sandra Bullock (A Time to Kill) foreshadowed a great night for Gravitywhich won 6 of the 24 categories.  Other big winners included Frozen, Game of Thrones and PETA.  Pioneering careers were also lauded as previous VES Méliès Award winner Doug Trumbull (2001: A Space Odyssey) honoured his colleague John Dykstra (Star Wars) with the VES Lifetime Achievement Award.



    Here is the complete list of winners:


    Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects-Driven Feature Motion Picture

                      

    Gravity

                                        

    Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Feature Motion Picture


    The Lone Ranger

                                        

    Outstanding Animation in an Animated Feature Motion Picture


    Frozen



                                   

    Outstanding Visual Effects in a Broadcast Program


    Game of Thrones: Valar Dohaeris

                                       

    Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Broadcast Program


    Banshee: Pilot

                                        

    Outstanding Real-Time Visuals in a Video Game


    Call of Duty: Ghosts


    Outstanding Visual Effects in a Commercial


    PETA: 98% Human

                                        

    Outstanding Visual Effects in a Special Venue Project


    Space Shuttle Atlantis



                                   

    Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture


    The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: Smaug

                                     

    Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Feature Motion Picture


    Frozen: Bringing the Snow Queen to Life


    Outstanding Animated Character in a Commercial or Broadcast Program


    PETA: 98% Human


    Outstanding Created Environment in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture


    Gravity: Exterior

                                        

    Outstanding Created Environment in an Animated Feature Motion Picture


    Frozen: Elsa's Ice Palace



    Outstanding Created Environment in a Commercial or Broadcast Program


    Game of Thrones: The Climb

                                       

    Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture


    Gravity

                                        

    Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a Live Action Commercial or Broadcast Program


    The Crew


                           

    Outstanding Models in a Feature Motion Picture


    Gravity: ISS Exterior


    Outstanding FX and Simulation Animation in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture


    Gravity: Parachute and ISS Destruction




    Outstanding FX and Simulation Animation in an Animated Feature Motion Picture



    Frozen: Elsa's Blizzard

                                       

    Outstanding FX and Simulation Animation in a Commercial or Broadcast Program


    PETA: 98% Human

                                        

    Outstanding Compositing in a Feature Motion Picture


    Gravity

                                        

    Outstanding Compositing in a Broadcast Program


    Game of Thrones: The Climb

                                        

    Outstanding Compositing in a Commercial


    Call of Duty: Epic Night Out

                                        

    Outstanding Visual Effects in a Student Project


    Rugbybugs



    To learn more visit the official website for the Visual Effects Society.

                           
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    With production getting underway on The Avengers: Age of Ultron in South Africa this week, we should expect to hear plenty from the hotly-anticapted sequel over the coming weeks and months; we've already had a few words from Marvel chief Kevin Feige on Black Widow's role in the film [see here], and now we've got some comments from MCU newcomer Elizabeth Olsen, who's set to bring another female superhero to life in the Scarlet Witch. Speaking to Total Film (via Superhero Movie News), Olsen responded to a question about whether her costume will resemble the Scarlet Witch's traditional comic book outfits...

    "We’ve done some costume stuff, yeah! My favourite piece is my secrecy cloak that prevents anyone from seeing what I’m wearing. There’s a hood, and a robe – it protects the image! I don’t think Joss ever would have hired me, honestly, if he wanted me to wear those outfits; I am not a professional athlete and nor am I a model. Wearing those costumes wouldn’t be fun for anyone who wasn’t those things. He already had a different idea. It respects and involves the comic-book character but it’s different, more rooted. It’s for someone today.” “Well, if someone walked around wearing what she wore in the comics, people would stop and say, ‘What the hell… she thinks she’s a superhero!’"

    The Avengers: Age of Ultron is set for release on May 1st 2015 with a cast that includes returning MCU stars Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), 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), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury) and Paul Bettany (JARVIS / The Vision) alongside new additions Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass 2) as Quicksilver, James Spader (The Blacklist) as Ultron and Thomas Kretschmann (Dracula) as Baron Strucker.


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    John Singleton, the man behind 2 Fast 2 Furious and urban classic Boyz n the Hood has officially signed on to direct and produce a project very dear to his heart, the as yet untitled biopic of legendary rapper Tupac Shakur. Variety are reporting that he will also rewrite the script that has been floating around in limbo for a number of years now.

    Singleton worked with Shakur before his death on Poetic Justice, which also starred Janet Jackson, and has been quoted saying:

    "Tupac was they guy who I planned to do a lifetime of films with…His passing deeply affected my life as well as countless people in the world. His life story is as important to my generation."

    The director had previously been linked with the movie a few years ago but after legal issues with Tupac's mother and other various problems, a deal was never reached and the movie was put to one side. Training Day director Antone Fuqua was onboard briefly but again production was never green lit. Now Singleton is set to breath new life into the project.

    Presumably he would tackle Shakur's unfathomable rise to fame and the moments leading up to his tragic, controversial death. But as a close friend of the Shakur family, it's probable that Singleton will focus on celebrating Tupac's legacy and how much he touched his audience rather than attempting to spotlight the incidents that ended his life in 1996.

    No details yet on who might be put forward to portray the iconic hip-hop star, who was seen as a poet and a linchpin in helping to popularise hip-hop music worldwide. Anthony Mackie famously played the part in Notorious, the Biggie Smalls biopic, but it's unlikely he would be called on to revisit the role.

    So who do we think can fill the boots?


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    New trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man 2
    We had a new trailer less than two weeks ago to coincide with the Super Bowl, but Sony has continued the marketing push for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 by releasing a third preview of the upcoming superhero sequel, and you can watch it right here after the official synopsis...

    We’ve always known that Spider-Man’s most important battle has been within himself: the struggle between the ordinary obligations of Peter Parker and the extraordinary responsibilities of Spider-Man. But in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Peter Parker finds that a greater conflict lies ahead.

    It’s great to be Spider-Man. For Peter Parker, there’s no feeling quite like swinging between skyscrapers, embracing being the hero, and spending time with Gwen. But being Spider-Man comes at a price: only Spider-Man can protect his fellow New Yorkers from the formidable villains that threaten the city. With the emergence of Electro, Peter must confront a foe far more powerful than he. And as his old friend, Harry Osborn, returns, Peter comes to realize that all of his enemies have one thing in common: OsCorp.


    The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is set for release in the UK on April 18th and North America on May 2nd, with Marc Webb directing a cast that includes the returning Andrew Garfield (Peter Parker / Spider-Man), Emma Stone (Gwen Stacy), Sally Field (Aunt May), Chris Zylka (Flash Thompson), Campbell Scott (Richard Parker), Embeth Davidtz (Mary Parker), Martin Sheen (Ben Parker) and Denis Leary (George Stacy) alongside new additions  Jamie Foxx (Django Unchained) as Electro, Dane DeHaan (Chronicle) as Harry Osborn, Paul Giamatti (12 Years a Slave) as The Rhino, Chris Cooper (American Beauty) as Norman Osborn, Colm Feore (Thor) as Donald Menken, Marton Csokas (The Lord of the Rings) as Dr. Kafka, and Felicity Jones (Like Crazy) and Sarah Gadon (Cosmopolis) in as yet unrevealed roles.


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  • 02/13/14--11:45: Fleming - Episode 1 Review
  • Gavin Logan reviews the first episode of Fleming...

    The name's Fleming, Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond, author of Casino Royale, wealthy politicians son, Army drop-out…you get the drift.

    I want to start off by saying I am in no way a Bond addict. Yes I enjoyed the movies growing up and have had mixed feelings on the recent efforts but the main aspect about this new show that I noticed straight away is that you don't necessarily have to know your GoldenEyes from your Thunderballs. But there was something intriguing about the clips and trailers for Fleming, starring Dominic Cooper in the titular role, that made me want to watch, to find out exactly what pushed his buttons and how he created the Worlds most infamous secret agent. However if you've come to the show to see a straight "making of" type drama, then you might be slightly disappointed. From the first initial impressions, this isn't about Fleming's struggle to write a successful spy novel, this is actually better than that. This is the story of the man himself and the very unique and special life he led that would eventually go on to inspire the creation of James Bond and his world that we so fondly know.

    From the opening segments we are immediately at home with this character and throughout the entire episode much of what he does and says are all very familiar. Perhaps a little too familiar. It's evident that the writers of the show want us to know that Fleming was Bond, or at least the man he wishes he was. There's two distinct scenes near the beginning that correlate specifically to prior Bond movies. A scuba diving scene with his wife, played impeccably by Sherlock's Lara Pulver and a fast paced skiing scene with his author brother Peter in which he loses control and flies over a log cabin. Who can tell me what Bond movie that's from? There's also continued nods to 007 as the episode progresses including a moment at a bar when Fleming orders a Martini, shaken not stirred. All of this is good fun of course because it gives us, the viewers, more of a connection to Fleming through what we associate with Bond.

    But was it any good?

    The short answer is yes, it was good for an opening episode (1 of 4) and actually was able to pack in a fair amount of plot. The longer answer is, we really don't know yet because we will only be able to fully appreciate the opener once we see where it leads to. But it is very promising.

    We first meet Fleming moments after he has completed his inaugural spy novel Casino Royale and allows his wife to read the first manuscript. We are then transported back just prior to World War II where Fleming is enjoying a unfettered lifestyle of smoking expensive cigarettes, drinking expensive cocktails and making love to, dare I say it, an expensive woman. We touch on a few details from his early years when his mother visits his flat expressing her disdain for his lack of ambition. It doesn't help when he feels he is constantly compared to his do-no-wrong brother Peter, who at the time is a soldier in the British Army. Things begin to turn around for him when he is approached by Director of Naval Intelligence for the Royal Navy and brought on as his personal assistant. This is when we get our first look-in at what might have inspired Fleming to conceive Bond and his supporting characters M, Miss Moneypenny etc. Although he shows off his rebellious side, his ideas are worth noting and it's clear he will become a crucial cog in the Navy's ploy to "flush out the Nazis".

    I've never been a big fan of Dominic Cooper (I don't know why), so I was happy to eat my words while watching. Although I can't comment on how close a portrayal his is of the real life Ian Fleming (and I'm not sure quite how important that is anyway) I thoroughly enjoyed his witty banter, playful charm and well…Bond-ish mannerisms. He certainly seems like the perfect choice. Macho enough to woo the ladies but too boyish to take life too seriously. I was also very impressed by the overall production. The set pieces, the costumes, the beautiful wide shots of London circa 1940. Lara Pulver also impressed as the apple of his eye and eventual wife Anna. She evoked much of what made her stand out as The Woman Irene Adler; independent, unyielding, seductive.

    I know nothing of Fleming's life so it's impossible for me to recognise what is actually true and what's been fabricated but in all honesty it doesn't really matter. Fleming was enjoyable, spirited and fairly light hearted but provided enough intrigue for me to count down the days until Episode Two.

    Gavin Logan - Follow me on Twitter and A-Z Movie Challenge.


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    Oliver Queen himself, Stephen Amell, has just made a very brief yet cool Arrow announcement on both his Facebook and Twitter pages.

    There isn't much say (except yay!), so here it is...



    Do you think he's happy? Are you happy? Let us know your thoughts...


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    Last year it was announced that Star Wars: The Clone Wars was one of the casualties of Disney's Lucasfilm purchase, with the studio opting instead to plow its energy into new adventures in a galaxy far, far away with the likes of the upcoming Star Wars Rebels, not to mention a little movie by the name of Star Wars: Episode VII.

    Well, fans of the Emmy Award-winning show rejoice, for it's been revealed today that Netflix has picked up the series for its sixth and final season and will release all thirteen episodes on March 7th in the USA and Canda, with a UK date yet to be determined. The move continues Netflix's shift into exclusive programming, which includes original properties such as House of Cards, Orange is the New Black and the upcoming Marvel miniseries Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and The Defenders.

    Are you glad that Star Wars: The Clone Wars will be back for a final run of episodes? Let us know in the comments below...


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    Piers McCarthy reviews the ninth episode of The Walking Dead season 4....

    I opened my last review with this: “The mid-season finale of The Walking Dead’s fourth season is pivotal in shaking things up; paving the way for what will hopefully be a tense and exciting latter half.” From watching the ninth episode – the first episode in the second half of the season – I’m still holding onto the notion that things will become excitingly different.

    Major spoilers follow 

    The chaotic end to episode eight was excellent at creating dread and the sense of opportunity in equal measure. I mean this in relation to the characters and for the audience. We understand that the unknown path the main group must all take could lead to death, but it could also lead to a better life. Frankly, the prison was becoming a dull environment, monotonous in its aesthetic and the plot it was enveloping. As Rick and Carl trudge away from the charred remains of their old home, there’s a refreshing feel to stepping away from the all-too-familiar spot.

    The season return starts with Michonne slicing her way back to the prison. The motivation is unknown to begin with, until she finds two walkers perfect for becoming her new set of camouflage dogs. The zombiefied head of Hershel also makes an appearance just before Michonne moves away – a sad reminder of the pain Hershel experienced before death. If Michonne’s entrance makes you think of action and mystery initially, Hershel’s cameo reiterates the dramatic and melancholic parts of the show. It’s not a spectacular prologue after such a long wait, but it does enough to get you excited once again.

    Rick and Carl then take up the majority of the narrative (with a few moments dedicated to Michonne), for an episode that has its moments of tension, but is largely an exploration of the maturing Carl character. Rick, beaten so badly, has to take a back-seat for the most part, leaving Carl to deal with most skirmishes. Love or hate Carl, “After” will definitely have fans debating over the character’s impact.

    The anger Carl feels towards his father, for the upset and ruin that have come from Rick’s leadership, is consistently seen throughout. Carl’s embittered attitude does few favours for liking the character and a large portion of “After” has you yelling you at the screen for the bolshie boy to be more considerate.

    A third of the way through the episode, Michonne’s mystery finally gets chipped away at. We see a flashback with her “lover” (Mike), their son and Mike’s best friend before the apocalypse. Executed brilliantly, the brief back-story reveals to us who Michonne’s original jawless, armless walkers were, while also showing us a little bit of Michonne’s old life. The scene plays out as an odd dream, with the lighting, set and costumes changing to signify the destruction. There are subtle shifts in the atmosphere and behaviour (cued with music and lighting), making it an intriguing dream sequence. It doesn’t have to pinpoint every incident that happened to Michonne, Mike, their son, and Terry but it does enough to indicate the loss and devastation they experienced.

    Back to Carl and Rick and in the home they’ve sheltered in, Rick’s weak state has left him unconscious, unable to be woken. In trying to wake his dad, Carl yells and yells, attracting two nearby walkers. Heading out the door to lure them away, Carl behaves idiotically – apparently with a plan of where to lead them but not watching his surroundings. It’s the first in a few near-death experiences and Carl is set upon by three zombies, snapping away at his limbs. He’s fortunate to get away from the lot, firing off too many precious bullets and barely making it out alive. Somehow, however, this gives Carl an impulse to explore the dangerous, unknown territory more. He goes back to the house where he and Rick are staying, irately damning his unconscious father for past issues, and heads back out.

    The walker win of the episode comes from the undead character that very nearly bests Carl. Exploding out of a door Carl quietly opens, he gets a few good grabs on the boy. Carl tries everything to get away but has inadvertently left himself with many obstacles. He eventually manages to get away, locking the walker in a room and then writing, “Walker inside. Got my shoe. Didn’t get me.” He smiles on at his amusing message and eats pudding on the roof of the house. The mild arrogance in that short space of time, paired with some ridiculous decision-making has not helped this character in the slightest. Before the episode ends there is a moment of redemption where, believing Rick to be undead, Carl nearly shoots him in the head; thankfully he can’t bring himself to do it and realises the moans are not of having turned, but from sheer tiredness and injury. Carl’s empathy in that moment does allow him some behavioural recovery.

    Michonne’s final part in the episode includes a mass decapitation as the anxieties and nightmares take over. Cutting through the group she’s travelling amongst, she’s back to being the lone warrior, haunted by her past. That is, until she finds Carl and Rick’s tracks and knocks on their door, crying with joy as she sees them. So, three are joined once more and it’s up to the next few episodes to hopefully see more of our band finding their back to one another.

    Piers McCarthy - Follow me on Twitter.

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    The official X-Men Movies Twitter account has dropped a new promotional image from X-Men: Days of Future Past featuring Michael Fassbender's Magneto, in what's presumably the first of about 500 of these character portraits....

    Michael Fassbender as Magneto

    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 Hugh Jackman (Wolverine), James McAvoy (Professor X), Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique), Nicholas Hoult (Beast), Patrick Stewart (Professor X), Ian McKellen (Magneto), Lucas Till (Havok), Halle Berry (Storm), Anna Paquin (Rogue), Ellen Page (Kitty Pryde), Daniel Cudmore (Colossus) and Shawn Ashmore (Iceman) alongside franchise newcomers Evan Peters (American Horror Story) as Quicksilver, Booboo Stewart (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse) as Warpath, Fan Binbing (Iron Man 3) as Blink, Adan Canto (The Following) as Sunspot, Josh Helman (Mad Max: Fury Road) as William Stryker, Evan Jonigkeit (Girls) as Toad, and Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) as Bolivar Trask.


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    After giving us a look at Russell Crowe (Man of Steel), Jennifer Connelly (Requiem for a Dream), Ray Winstone (Snow White and the Huntsman) and Logan Lerman (Percy Jackson) [see here and here], Paramount Pictures has continued its flood of character posters for Darren Aronofsky's biblical epic Noah by releasing two more, this time featuring Emma Watson (Harry Potter) and Douglas Booth (Romeo and Juliet)...


    "NOAH is a close adaptation of the Biblical story of Noah’s Ark. In a world ravaged by human sin, Noah is given a divine mission: to build an Ark to save creation from the coming flood."



    Noah is set for release on March 28th, with a cast that also includes Anthony Hopkins (Thor: The Dark World), Kevin Durand (Resident Evil: Retribution), Nick Nolte (Warrior), Frank Langella (Robot & Frank), Maddison Davenport (The Possession), Mark Margolis (Breaking Bad), Marton Csokas (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) and Dakota Goyo (Real Steel).


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    As we count down to the arrival of next week's Guardians of the Galaxy trailer, Hasbro has released a poster for the 2014 American International Toy Fair recreating the first official still from the cosmic superhero movie, albeit with the company's line of Marvel Legends action figures. The poster will be handed out to attendees of Toy Fair on Saturday, at which point two other mystery figures will be unveiled...


    "From Marvel, the studio that brought you the global blockbuster franchises of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Avengers, comes a new team — the Guardians of the Galaxy. An action-packed, epic space adventure, Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the cosmos, where brash adventurer Peter Quill finds himself the object of an unrelenting bounty hunt after stealing a mysterious orb coveted by Ronan, a powerful villain with ambitions that threaten the entire universe. To evade the ever-persistent Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a quartet of disparate misfits — Rocket, a gun-toting raccoon, Groot, a tree-like humanoid, the deadly and enigmatic Gamora and the revenge-driven Drax the Destroyer. But when Peter discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must do his best to rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand — with the galaxy’s fate in the balance."

    Guardians of the Galaxy is set for release on August 1st, with James Gunn (Super) directing a cast that includesChris Pratt (Parks and Recreation) as Star-Lord, Zoe Saldana (Star Trek Into Darkness) as Gamora, Dave Bautista (Riddick) as Drax the Destroyer, Bradley Cooper (American Hustle) as Rocket Raccoon, Vin Diesel (Fast & Furious 6) as Groot, Benicio Del Toro (Sin City) as The Collector, Lee Pace (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey) as Ronan the Accuser, Karen Gillan (Doctor Who) as Nebula, Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond) as Korath, John C. Reilly (Step Brothers) as Rhomman Dey, and Glenn Close (Damages) as Nova Prime Rael.


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    Last month, it was announced that Jesse Eisenberg had secured the role of Lex Luthor in Zack Snyder's Man of Steel sequel Batman vs. Superman, and now long-time Lex voice actor Clancy Brown has shared his thoughts on Eisenberg's casting during an interview with Comic Book Resources to promote his latest movie Sparks:

    "I think Jesse Eisenberg is a great choice. I think he's a really sharp choice, and I know a lot of people don't agree with that, but I think he could be spectacular. I liked [Michael] Rosebaum's take on it, but that was kind of a WB show. But I just love the idea that the Facebook guy is Lex Luthor. That's just perfect.

    "He's a pretty specific actor. He's not a chameleon like [Gene] Hackman or [Kevin] Spacey. He has a similar smugness the way that Spacey does -- that highly-intelligent, super-smug, almost effeminate kind of smugness about him -- but he's way more current. I just watched Now You See Me, which I thought he was terrific in. He has a really specific persona engrained that is super-smart. You don't necessarily like him, but you don't dislike him. You don't necessarily think he's a good, fun guy -- you see him as a real quirky, weird dude. You don't completely trust him, although he's kind of adorable in his nerdy way.  

    "I think Lex has that. Lex is attractive in all the things that shouldn't be attractive -- or aren't traditionally attractive in comic books -- his intelligence and his ambition and his ego and all the rest of that. Jesse carries that really well. Plus, I hear he's a really nice guy, which helps. It's why I think it shines through, why his attractiveness shines through, because deep down he's a good guy. But he also has this kind of intellectual persona that's unsettling. It's almost reptilian, which is something I think Lex carries with him."

    Batman vs. Superman is set for release on May 6th, 2016 with a cast that also includes Henry Cavill (Superman), Ben Affleck (Batman), Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman), Amy Adams (Lois Lane), Diane Lane (Martha Kent), Laurence Fishburne (Perry White) and Jeremy Irons (Alfred Pennyworth).


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    Anghus Houvouras on the problem with remaking good movies...

    Lamenting about the woeful lack of originality in Hollywood is hardly novel.  Much like the politics or religion, it's a topic that gets discussed often but rarely comes to any real resolution.  I've said it a dozen times in a dozen columns:

    Hollywood studios are averse to risk.  They will always finance the familiar rather than risk resources on something original.

    For the most part, I'm mildly irritated by the deluge of remakes and re-imaginings that clutter the cinematic landscape, but for the most part it's harmless.  When Hollywood trots out Brad Pitt and George Clooney in a remake of Oceans 11 many cinephiles roll their eyes, but there isn't a huge swell of indignation simply because the movie isn't a cultural staple or a well loved classic.  It is simply a thing that existed and has some level of recognition and is repackaged for a new era of film fans.  Soderbergh himself said that while he loved the idea of a star studded caper film, he was not a big fan of the Rat Pack original.  So while the core concept might be lazy, there's still a goal of improving upon the source material.  To deliver audiences a better (or unique) version of the same story.  I suppose if you're going to be a re-make apologist, that is your best case scenario.

    Film fans will use a handful of examples to defend re-making good movies.  John Carpenter's The Thing is always a popular example among hardcore movie geeks.  Zach Snyder's Dawn of the Dead gets mentioned a lot in these discussions.  Personally, I enjoyed last year's Evil Dead reboot.  No one's saying these remakes and re-imaginings don't have any entertainment value.  Certainly there is.  But for the sake of digging deeper we have to break the argument down into some more basic components.

    I'm not going to waste any time discussing the merits of the end product.  I have no interest in engaging in a tired debate where someone lists off successful remakes, reboots, and re-imaginings and instead focus on the core of the problem:

    Creating a remix culture.

    We're currently living in a remix culture.  A society where our art, music, film, and television is often a remixed version of a pre-existing property.  Music is the most obvious example of this, where hip-hop and pop artists sample a record, change the timing, add some flair, and call it their own.  At one point it was kind of subtle, with the artist taking a beat or a small sample and reworking it.  Nowadays you have people taking entire hooks and singing over them.  Before digital production techniques became all the rage, musicians just kind of 'borrowed' things from others and if they borrowed too heavily they ended up in court.  You had all the blues and rock-n-roll musicians of the 1950's claiming Elvis had stolen their entire shtick outright.  Back then it was a guitar riff or a beat that might not have been widely known.  Today, Kanye West can take Curtis Mayfield's "Move on Up", change the tempo, throw down 16 bars on top of it, and call it his own song.  The remix culture isn't just about simply borrowing elements anymore.  Like the Kanye West example, it's about wholesale thievery of a pre-existing idea and putting your own stamp on it.   Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so they say.  And trust me when I say I have no interest in getting into the entire history of homage.  However, there is a pattern forming across all artistic mediums showing that we're becoming all too comfortable with remixed versions of the familiar.

    This week sees the release of the new RoboCop remake, a film that at best is passable and at worst completely pointless.  The original RoboCop is considered to be a classic.  A film that perfectly captures the violent R-rated action films of an era, and a movie that works in a lot of satire thanks to the ghoulish mind of Paul Verhoven.  It was a movie that worked as entertainment first and social satire second.  When I was young and snuck in to see RoboCop, it was because I loved the idea of a cybernetic cop action movie.  I loved the premise, the action, and the hilarious over the top antics of the villains.  As I got older, I started to appreciate the movie on other levels.  The things that 12 year old me didn't quite have the maturity to understand.  RoboCop was a great movie because it worked on more than one level.

    The RoboCop remake is the most salient example, to me, of what is inherently wrong with our remix culture.  So many of these remakes are spawned from the creators inner child.  Allow me to explain.   The new RoboCop is chock full of the stuff that 12 year old me would have loved, but that the adult version finds kind of boring.  The inception phase of these remakes is coming from the 'cool' factor of a filmmakers' inner child, channeling what they loved about the property when they first saw it. We're only getting one level.  The filmmakers is changing the tempo and putting some polish on it, but aesthetically it never achieves the same connection as the original.

    The remix culture is a permanent fixture of our creative culture and looks like it's not going anywhere.  We already got Marc Webb's remixed version of Spider-Man and Bryan Singer is back in remix mode taking his original X-Men and adding in some samples of Matthew Vaughn's retooled X-Men: First Class.  Every major franchise will at some point require a remix, stripping down parts and pieces of the original and reconstructing it into something different.

    The problem with remaking (or remixing) good movies is the reality that the finished product will never exceed the quality of the original and will more likely pale in comparison to the original.

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

    http://www.amazon.com/My-Career-Suicide-Note-ebook/dp/B00D3ULU5I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1371583147&sr=8-1&keywords=my+career+suicide+note


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    Earlier this week it was announced that Ben McKenzie (Southland, Batman: Year One) will take on the role of Detective Jim Gordon in Fox's upcoming Batman prequel series Gotham, and now McKenzie has received some words of advice from the last man to don the 'tache, Gary Oldman, who starred as Gordon in Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises.

    "I’m sure he’s going to be fabulous," Oldman tells Access Hollywood. "[My advice is to] go back to the comic books. That’s what I did. There’s great stuff about Gordon. He had whole other life." However, when told that the series will revolve around a pre-Dark Knight Bruce Wayne, Oldman responded with a 'perplexed look on his face', stating: "A show without Batman?"

    Gotham has been created by Bruno Heller (The Mentalist) and will also feature Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers) as Alfred Pennyworth, Robin Lord Taylor (Another Earth) as Oswald Cobblepot, Zabryna Guevara (The Guilt Trip) as Detective Essen, Erin Richards (Being Human) as Barbara Kean and Donal Logue (Sons of Anarchy) as Detective Harvey Bullock.


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