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Movies, TV and Comic Books

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    Ahead of its release next month, Lionsgate and Summit Entertainment have debuted an extended Winter Olympics TV spot for the young adult franchise hopeful Divergent, which sees Shailene Woodley (The Descendants, The Spectacular Now) taking on the lead role in director Neil Burger's (The Illusionist, Limitless) adaptation of Veronica Roth's bestselling sci-fi novel of the same name.

    "DIVERGENT is a thrilling action-adventure set in a future world where people are divided into distinct factions based on their personalities. Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) is warned she is Divergent and will never fit into any one group. When she discovers a conspiracy to destroy all Divergents, she must find out what makes being Divergent so dangerous before it's too late."

    Also featuring in the cast of Divergent are Miles Teller (That Awkward Moment), Theo James (Bedlam), Zoe Kravitz (X-Men: First Class), Ansel Elgort (Carrie), Maggie Q (Nikita), Jai Courtney (A Good Day to Die Hard) and Kate Winslet (Carnage).


     Divergent is set for release on March 21st. Watch the most recent trailer here.





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    With a little over six weeks to go before its hotly-anticipated return, HBO has released a new behind-the-scenes featurette for Game of Thrones season 4 entitled 'Intensity of Iceland', which takes us beyond the Wall and follows the cast and crew on location in a surprisingly snow free part of Iceland.

    Among the contributors to the show are cast members Rose Leslie (Ygritte), Kristofer Huvju (Tormund), Maisie Williams (Arya Stark), Rory McCann (The Hound), Gwendoline Christie (Brienne) and director Alex Graves, writer/co-producer Bryan Cogman, producer Chris Newman, and location manager Fahad Jabali.

    Check out the featurette below, and if you're yet to see it you can also watch the latest trailer for Game of Thrones season 4 here...


    Game of Thrones returns to HBO in the States on April 6th and to Sky Atlantic here in the UK on April 7th.





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    We've seen a lot of promotional material for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 this week [see two new featurettes, a TV spot, banner and behind-the-scenes images and a first good look at Dane DeHaan's Green Goblin], and now we've got a new article from the Daily Bugle viral site, which sees Flash Thompson (Chris Zylka) writing in to defend Spider-Man (presumably after J. Jonah Jameson's recent attack)...

    The Five-Borough Blog

    We asked our readers how they thought Spider-Man got his powers. You answered by email, text, blog, and even a brick through the window (please refrain from that in the future). Here’s what you had to say:

    Flash T., Flushing

    “He’s probably just a regular guy who got his powers by accident. Who cares? What really matters is what he’s doing with them now that he has them, right? Spidey’s keeping the streets clean and sticking up for everyday New Yorkers. He’s showing us we gotta stick up for ourselves, too. He saved us from the Lizard in our High School and no matter who he turns out to be, I’m always going to be on his side.”

    Is Spider-Man an alien from another planet? Are his webs natural or supernatural? Your thoughts, your words, your paper! Submit here!

    The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is set for release on April 18th 2014 in the UK and on May 1st 2014 in North America, with 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) joined in the cast by new additions include 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, B.J. Novak (The Office) as Alistair Smythe and Felicity Jones (Like Crazy) and Sarah Gadon (Cosmopolis) in as yet unrevealed roles.





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    B.J. Britt joins Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as series regular Agent Triplett
    Back in December it was revealed that Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. would inject some new blood into its roster by adding two new series regulars, followed by the news that Bill Paxton (Aliens, True Lies) had joined the show as Agent John Garrett. Well, we've now got our second new addition, with TV Line reporting that B.J. Britt (Being Mary Jane, Vampires Suck) is set to play a character called Agent Triplett.

    Aside from a name, there's very little information on Agent Triplett, although he is described as "an associate of Bill Paxton's character." Both Paxton and Britt are set to make their first appearance in the series in the next episode 'T.A.H.I.T.I.', which is due to air on March 4th.

    Are you happy to see new regulars being added to the cast of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., or is this too little too late? Let us know in the comments below or head on over to The Flickering Myth Forum...





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    Matt Smith reviews the tenth episode of Elementary season 2...

    Elementary Season 2 - Episode 10 ReviewWith a mid-season break, a concept devoid of all logical definition as a break between series could be called a mid-season break, now officially over you may think Sherlock Holmes of all characters might have put the time to good use. And it seems he has, bringing along a flashback episode that’s been used by numerous series to give a little twist to a story that might otherwise be a routine. It’s a format that fits detective shows and the genre as a whole quite well.

    As if to get over the break, the series throws us back in at the deep end with the excitement of a shotgun-wielding schizophrenic in a police station. But before we can see the conclusion, the producers decide to almost break the fourth wall and present Sherlock Holmes as their own surrogate in a courtroom. He even completes the classic conventions of an episode like this by filling in his own details to compliment himself.

    While my use of the word ‘classic’ might be a replacement for ‘cliché’, the opening does still work despite the fact it’s a format everyone who watches television regularly has seen before at least once. Holmes, giving his testimony, is like the producers of the show. Intentionally keeping the secret of the finale away from the courtroom/viewer, he even provides his own edits (‘skip to the good bit’).

    Another thing we’ve all seen before are the funny lines and interchanges between characters in this show, which make a welcome return. Amongst all the gruesome crime shows on TV at the moment, it’s nice to see a classic mystery with minimal violence played out on screen, complete with a sense of humour. One of the highlights being the explanation used to get around the tricky business of breaking into multiple peoples’ homes.

    But like the positioning of himself above the law, Sherlock Holmes in one iteration or another has always seen himself as higher or at the very least separate from everyone else. His references to ‘your’ state-sanctioned practices show he still observes everyone as if they’re a case study. A series of slides under a microscope.

    Elementary Season 2 - Episode 10 ReviewBut it’s not as if he has no one to fight against his practices. This episode is all about whether the means justify the ends, and it almost helps Holmes’ case that he has someone like Joan Watson to keep an eye and rally against him when needed. Is a man who acts above the law acceptable if he’s supervised, or insists his moral compass keeps him within reason? As an audience, it’s easy to side with Holmes but in real life a person acting like this would probably be thrown out of the police station quicker than he’s ever invited. While Holmes talks about the greys of life making the law or a handbook useless, we cut to Watson wearing black and white giving her side of the story in the courtroom.

    The villain of the case, perhaps the entire case itself, is like the lawyer says. Inconsequential. This episode feels more like a welcome back, if not for the obvious changes made to a certain character’s life. This episode is perhaps also about consequences, the sudden finality of such things when they don’t go your way.

    The dramatic ending in the courtroom was a fantastic way to end it, with Holmes losing the most important thing in his life. So it’s a shame they carried on and made the verdict a mere recommendation and tied Holmes’ career up in a sitcom-like bow where almost everything was back to normal.

    The case is a little forgettable in the grand scheme of things. But the feeling something in the shape of Moriarty or Mycroft is lurking in the background can’t be shaken off. Hopefully now Holmes is back to bring logic to his world, he can crack the big case that’s coming and grip us as an audience.


    Matt Smith - follow me on Twitter.




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    Simon Columb continues our Al Pacino Retrospective with The Godfather Part II...

    Al Pacino Retrospective - The Godfather Part II
    Is The Godfather Part II superior to The Godfather? In a lively discussion on sequels, film fanatic Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy) in Scream 2, argues how “sequels suck”. But, unlike Terminator 2: Judgement Day and Aliens, The Godfather Part II stumps him. It covers a greater space of time, tells a grander story and turns what was a family-centred, but nevertheless New York “Gangshter” story, into a personal drama set on an epic, ambitious scale.

    Though the dialogue in The Godfather holds iconic and memorable lines, definitive scenes in The Godfather Part II show Michael Corleone’s true menace revealing itself. The Godfather portrays his sinister and deeply-calculated methods of management, but they are subtle and carefully-constructed. He recommends the hit on Solozzo and MacCluskey; he marries Kay (Diane Keaton) to maintain a strong family unit; he settles all family business in the climax of the film by killing off the leaders of the New York mobs – Barzini, Cuneo, Stratchi and Tattaglia (and Moe Greene in Vegas). But these murders occur at the very end of the first film. Part II shows how corrupted he has become – and how his lack of morality will stop at nothing to “protect the family business”. Subtlety is not the aim of the game – Michael Corleone wants to make a point. Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall) asks whether Michael wants to wipe everyone out – in The Godfather Part II it appears so.

    Alongside Michael’s ruthless pursuit of the American Dream, it is juxtaposed with his Father, Vito Andolini (changing his name to Vito ‘Corleone’ after his town of birth). Played by Robert De Niro, we see a considerable difference between the man who began with nothing and Michael. Through a strong sense of family values and respect, Vito built an empire. He was willing to work his way through the system fairly – he works as an assistant; he raises a child; he joins a friend at weekly theatre shows that hark back to the old country. It is through the corruption within little Italy – and the lack of support offered by the authorities that Vito steps in. Fanucci (Gaston Moschin) extorts the local people and abuses their trust. Vito decides to stop this treatement. As a comparison to his son, who aims to control casinos in Vegas and set-up a new gambling hot-spot in Cuba, it is clear that something has been lost in between the generations.

    Al Pacino Retrospective - The Godfather Part IIOf course, Michael is not the only Son. Hot-head Sonny lost his life in Part I while Fredo (John Cazale) and adopted-Son Tom Hagen remain loyal to Michael. But family has been eroded – and continues to be eroded in Part II to great effect. The less family-focused conflicts are stumbling blocks. Hyman Roth (Lee Strasberg) and Johnny Ola (Dominic Chianese) in Cuba can be overtly political and less-engaging, while Senator Pat Geary’s (G.D. Spradlin) “love” for Italian-American’s is so forced it borders on parody. Even the Frank Pentageli (Michael V. Gazzo) plot bugs like a stone in the shoe as we can only imagine what it would’ve been like had Clemenza returned from Part I.

    But these are pedantic points. The Godfather Part II still holds the most striking scenes in the series. The New Year’s Eve party as Pacino viciously grabs the head of the traitor – “I know it was you!” – is one such moment. Another as, what appears to be a small conversation between Kay and Michael, in the final act becomes one of the most explosive arguments he is involved within. Any scene with Fredo breaks your heart as John Cazale truly shows how strong an actor he is – and why Pacino, De Niro and Meryl Streep often credit him with the strength of their acting. Finally, the entire story set within little Italy is an example of expert filmmaking. You can see that Sergio Leone can’t have looked too far when making Once Upon a Time in America, whereby the context and even lead actor in Robert De Niro is reused.

    The Godfather Part II has influenced many and remains a masterpiece to this day. Whether you believe The Godfather is a superior film or not, one cannot deny the importance of The Godfather Part II– and how it manages to capture such an ambitious story so effortlessly well. Randy Meeks was stumped for a reason – The Godfather Part II is the one sequel that can comfortably take on its predecessor.


    For more on the Al Pacino Retrospective running at the BFI throughout February amd March, head here.

    Simon Columb




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    Arrow Producer's Review for 'Time of Death' featuring The Clock King
    Another DC villain is set to arrive in Starling City this coming Wednesday as Robert Knepper (Prison Break) makes his first appearance as William Tockman, better known as The Clock King, in 'Time of Death'; check out the latest Producer's Review featurette for the upcoming episode here...

    "Oliver (Stephen Amell) brings Sara (Caity Lotz) into the Arrow team. Watching Oliver and Diggle (David Ramsey) spar with Sara and talk old scars, Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) starts to feel left out. The team is investigating a villain named William Tockman, a.k.a. The Clock King (guest star Robert Knepper), who is a brilliant thief armed with technology that can open any bank vault in Starling City. After The Clock King infiltrates the computer systems in the lair, Felicity feels pressure to prove her worth. When she gets a lead on Tockman’s whereabouts, she heads out without the team, putting her in peril. Meanwhile, Oliver throws Sara a welcome home party, but Laurel (Katie Cassidy) refuses to attend. After Lance (Paul Blackthrone) makes his case for a family dinner, Laurel acquiesces, but when Oliver shows up with Sara, she loses her temper on both of them."


    And here's a clip from said episode...


    Meanwhile, thanks to Comic Book Resources, we also have our first look at the Suicide Squad, which consists of Ben Turner / Bronze Tiger (Michael Jai White), Mark Sheffer / Shrapnel (Sean Maher), Floyd Lawton / Deadshot (Michael Rowe) and Lyla Michaels / Harbinger (Audrey Marie Anderson) alongside Amanda Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) and John Diggle (David Ramsey)...


    Arrow airs on The CW on Wednesday evenings.




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    It has been announced that the latest chapter in Warner Bros.' DC Universe Animation Original Moies line, Son of Batman, will receive its world premiere at WonderCon Anaheim, which is set to take place between April 18th and April 20th. Check out the official press release from WonderCon, after a brand new still:


    The world is turned upside down when Batman—one of the world’s greatest superheroes—finds out he is a father in the newest DC Universe Original Animated Movie, Son of Batman. This all-new, PG-13-rated film will have its world premiere at WonderCon Anaheim with a screening and panel discussion.

    The screening at WonderCon marks the sixth DC Universe Animated Movie premiere at the event. Warner Bros. Animation and DC Entertainment have premiered Justice League: The New Frontier (2008), Wonder Woman (2009), Green Lantern: Emerald Knights (2011), Superman vs. The Elite (2012), and Superman Unbound (2013) exclusively at WonderCon over the past 6 years.

    In Son of Batman, Batman learns he has a son, Damian—and to further complicate matters, the mother is Talia Al Ghul, daughter of one of his most dreaded enemies, Ra’s Al Ghul. When the odds quickly turn against Batman and Damian, the Dark Knight must become both father and mentor to the aggressive, agile new Robin. Together they form an uneasy alliance to try and thwart the criminal enterprise of Deathstroke and his army of ninja man-bats before there are international consequences.

    Primetime television stars Jason O’Mara (Terra Nova, Vegas) and Stuart Allan (Grey’s Anatomy), the voices of Batman/Bruce Wayne and Damian, respectively, unite with several television greats to fashion these famed animated roles. Adding to the celebrity-laden voice cast is Thomas Gibson (Criminal Minds) as Deathstroke, Morena Baccarin (Homeland) as Talia, Xander Berkeley (Nikita) as Langstrom, David McCallum (NCIS) as Alfred, Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad, Revolution) as Ra’s Al Ghul, Sean Maher (Firefly) as Nightwing/Dick Grayson, and Bruce Thomas (Kyle XY) as Gordon.


    Produced by Warner Bros. Animation and DC Entertainment, Son of Batman is directed by Ethan Spaulding from a screenplay by Joe R. Lansdale, and based on a story by James Robinson. James Tucker is producer. Phil Bourassa is character designer. Sam Register (Young Justice, Teen Titans), Michael Uslan (The Dark Knight Rises) and Benjamin Melniker (The Dark Knight Rises) are executive producers. 

    Son of Batman is set to arrive on DVD and Blu-ray on May 6th. Watch the trailer here.




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    Jackson Ball reviews the seventh episode of House of Cards season 2...

    House of Cards Season 2 poster
    Back in my review of the third episode of Season 2, I applauded the House of Cards for adding some much-needed depth to the character of President Garrett Walker (Michael Gill). After spending much of the first season as a one-dimensional puppet figure, it was good to see him finally getting fleshed out a bit. This character expansion is something, I’m pleased to report, that gets taken even further in Episode 7.

    Spoilers Ahead – You have been warned!

    The central narrative of this episode sees the relationship between Walker and Vice President Francis ‘Frank’ Underwood (Kevin Spacey) strengthen considerably, from political allies to something resembling friends. The pair engage in a spot of male bonding over such things as Civil War dioramas and fine art, all whilst we the audience learn a little more about what makes the president tick.

    The real masterstroke of this character exploration is that it leaves us with a prominent and as yet unanswerable question: Is there more to President Walker than meets the eye?

    For example, while I was enjoying the President’s transformation into an actual, multi-dimensional human being, the whole faux friendship between him and Frank was leaving a sour taste in my mouth, as it was clear that once again, the situation was so easily playing into the VP’s hands. Once again, the President had fallen for Frank’s seductive southern drawl hook, line and sinker. However, thanks to the writers’ cunning, combined with the consistently impressive performance of Gill, a series-shaking possibility suddenly occurred to me: What if the president already knows?!

    Think about it; we’ve just taken it as a given that Walker is a helpless play-thing for Frank to manipulate, but what if the Commander-in-Chief has finally wised up to his games and is now simply playing along to gain the upper hand. Walker may have seemed a bit wet, but he’s obviously got some sort of intellectual and political acumen or else he’d have never made it to president. This would also be a much more satisfying explanation for the mind-boggling ease in which Frank has influenced him this season. It’s certainly an interesting possibility, and one which I expect will be either confirmed or dismissed in future episodes.

    If the rest of this episode is anything to go by, it’s definitely prudent to assume that no relationship in House of Cards is as it seems. In the space of one episode, Seth (Derek Cecil) goes from being an informant for Remy (Mahershala Ali) posing as a new PR agent for Frank, to being a PR agent and informant for Frank, posing as an informant for Remy. Talk about jumping sides…


     Jackson Ball - follow me on Twitter




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    New TV spot for 300: Rise of an Empire
    Coming hot on the heels of yesterday's IMAX poster, a new TV spot has arrived online for 300: Rise of an Empire, which we've got got for you right here after the official synopsis...

    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 against the massive invading Persian forces led by mortal-turned-god Xerxes, and Artemisia, vengeful commander of the Persian navy.

    300: Rise of an Empire is directed by Noam Murro (Smart People) and sees 300 stars Lena Headey, Rodrigo Santoro and David Wenham alongside Sullivan Stapleton (Animal Kingdom), Eva Green (Dark Shadows), 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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    Looks like the Winter Olympics are not only event taking place in Russia in the latest Winter Soldier story written by Rick Remender and illustrated by Roland Boschi.


    S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Ran Shen is responsible for escorting two of the most important scientists on the planet back to the United States. Too bad, the only thing in his way is the Winter Solider – the Soviet Union’s deadliest operative! And he’ll stop at nothing to make sure the two scientists don’t fall into the wrong hands – even if it means killing them! But first he’ll have to fight his way through an elite Hydra squad led by Chancellor Cassandra and Madam Worm.







    The Winter Soldier: The Bitter March #2 which features a cover by Andrew Robinson and a variant by Agustin Alessio arrives on March 19, 2014.




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  • 02/21/14--12:25: Preview of Daredevil #1
  • The city which has the Golden Gate Bridge is setting for a story written by Mark Waid and illustrated by Chris Samnee about lawyer Matt Murdock who is the Man Without Fear.

                  

    Gifted with an imperceptible radar sense, blind lawyer Matt Murdock patrols the streets with a Billy club and a passion for justice. Only this time – it’s a brand new city, with even more dangerous foes. Join Matt Murdock as he journeys from the dark streets of Hell’s Kitchen to the sun-drenched boulevards of San Francisco.








    Daredevil #1 which features variant covers by Alex Ross, Paolo Rivera, Chris Samnee and Skottie Young goes on sale March 19, 2014.




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    Raring to go is the creative team of writer Felipe Smith and artist Tradd Moore who are overseeing an All-New Spirit of Vengeance...


    A high speed street race in East LA leads a young man down the fast and furious road of destiny. Amid an East Los Angeles neighbourhood full of gang violence and drug trafficking, 18-year old Robbie Reyes explodes onto the scene as the newest Ghost Rider!


    "In Robbie Reyes, Felipe Smith and Tradd Moore have created one of the most complex and likable characters to be granted great power — and a great ride! -- and learn the great responsibility that comes with both," stated Editor In Chief Axel Alonso.  "Reyes comes from a very different zip code than Peter Parker, but his story is universal." 


    “His vehicle of choice, the automobile, very clearly sets him apart visually,” remarked series writer Felipe Smith in an interview with Marvel.com.   “In comparison to his vengeance seeking predecessors, he’s very young and inexperienced in most aspects of life; but as a the product of a harsh inner city upbringing, Robbie’s street smarts, overall distrust for most people, and clear contempt for his violent surroundings make him the perfect host for a Spirit of Vengeance.”






    All-New Ghost Rider #1which features variant covers by Felipe Smith, Mike Del Mundo, and Skottie Young roars into town on March 19, 2014.




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    2014 is upon us and film geeks around the world are eagerly anticipating the release of a whole slew of big-budget sci-fi and fantasy extravaganzas, all made with the aim of blowing your mind and renewing your faith in the awesome power of cinema. While some may say this isn’t really different from any other year, we’d beg to differ.

    Sci-fi in particular is coming back in a big way. Like heavy metal, it seems to come and go in cycles, but this year is set to be particularly massive, with Gravity likely to get a lot of love at the Oscars 2014. Here are three films we're really looking forward to:

    New Godzilla poster releasedGodzilla

    The most famous kaiju of all is to return in a new update, directed by Gareth Edwards, who shot to fame for his ultra low-budget, but critically acclaimed, sci-fi film about aliens invading Mexico, Monsters. Forget Roland Emmerich’s disastrous, hilariously bad 1998 remake. The trailer for the new Godzilla looks apocalyptic, dark, brooding and terrifying – nothing like Emmerich’s train wreck of a film.

    Starring Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, Ken Watanabe and Aaron Taylor-Johnson, the masterful trailer that’s been released has left sci-fi geeks quivering in their seats. Buckle up: it looks like one helluva ride.


    300: Rise of an Empire

    300, directed by Zack Snyder and adapted from Frank Miller’s graphic novel, seemed to divide audiences when it came out. Some seemed to be captivated by the innovative visuals and the ultra slow-mo fighting scenes; others were insulted by the fascist overtones and the alleged praise of imperialism.

    If you thought 300 was an amazing movie, then 300: Rise of an Empire will probably look promising to you. It’s also based on a Frank Miller graphic novel, Xerxes, which hasn’t been published yet, and has several cast members returning to reprise their roles. Check out the 300: Rise of an Empire trailer now! 


    Interstellar

    Christopher Nolan’s next sci-fi behemoth is coming out this year, and as usual, it boasts an impressive cast, with some newcomers and a whole bunch of regular collaborators. Matthew McConaughey has the lead role, an ambitious astronaut who is leading a ground breaking voyage through a wormhole. It already sounds more complicated than Inception but hopefully it’ll make more sense!

    The film will also star Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck, Wes Bentley, Topher Grace, Michael Caine, John Lithgow, Ellen Burstyn, David Oyelowo and Bill Irwin. As with Nolan’s last few films, Interstellar is being filmed with both anamorphic 35mm and IMAX film photography, so expect some seriously big screen action.



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    There is another hero who features the name Captain as part of her name in a new series by writer Kelly Sue Deconnick and artist David Lopez.


    Earth’s Mightiest Hero with death-defying powers and an attitude to match is back – and nothing is going to be the same for Carol Danvers! New friends, a new home, and even a new love interest are just the start. Carol’s going cosmic – leaving Earth behind and heading into the vast unknown of outer space! And at the edge of the universe, she’ll rediscover the hero she was always destined to be!


    “Everything about Carol wants to go UP. Chin up, head up, heart up, up, up, UP. And I thought, ‘What if we let her go?’” stated series writer Kelly Sue Deconnick on taking Carol into outer space.”  Editor Sana Amanat added, "In many ways, Captain Marvel’s adventures have been building to this moment.  Carol has always pushed herself to the limits in all aspects of her life, so setting off into that grand cosmic highway is simply a matter of destiny. And one replete with high-octane space chases, monstrous battles and intergalactic mystery!"







    Captain Marvel #1which features variant covers by John Cassaday, Leinil Yu, Skottie Young and David Lopez arrives on March 12, 2014.





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    After sending the internet into a frenzy with the release of the Guardians of the Galaxy trailer earlier this week, Marvel Studios has now turned its attention back to its next Phase Two offering, releasing a new TV spot for Captain America: The Winter Soldier. There are potential spoilers. But, seeing as it's in a TV spot, we're guessing it's not really going to be a spoiler after all. Check it out after the official synopsis....

    "After the cataclysmic events in New York with The Avengers, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” finds Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, living quietly in Washington, D.C. and trying to adjust to the modern world. But when a S.H.I.E.L.D. colleague comes under attack, Steve becomes embroiled in a web of intrigue that threatens to put the world at risk. Joining forces with the Black Widow, Captain America struggles to expose the ever-widening conspiracy while fighting off professional assassins sent to silence him at every turn. When the full scope of the villainous plot is revealed, Captain America and the Black Widow enlist the help of a new ally, the Falcon. However, they soon find themselves up against an unexpected and formidable enemy — the Winter Soldier."


    Captain America: The Winter Soldier is directed by Anthony and Joe Russo (Community) and sees MCU veterans Chris Evans (Captain America), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury), Sebastian Stan (The Winter Soldier), Cobie Smulders (Agent Maria Hill), Hayley Atwell (Peggy Carter), Toby Jones (Arnim Zola) and Maximiliano Hernandez (Agent Jasper Sitwell) joined in the cast by Anthony Mackie (Pain & Gain) as Sam Wilson / Falcon, Emily VanCamp (Revenge) as Sharon Carter / Agent 13, Frank Grillo (Zero Dark Thirty) as Brock Rumlow / Crossbones, George St-Pierre (Death Warrior) as Georges Batroc / Batroc the Leaper, and Robert Redford (All Is Lost) as Alexander Pierce. The film is set for release on March 26th in the UK and April 4th in the States. Watch the latest trailer here





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    The LEGO Movie sequel to arrive in 2017
    Warner Bros. wasted little time giving the go ahead to a follow-up to The LEGO Movie, announcing that a sequel was in the works before the animated smash hit had even arrived in cinemas. But now, with the film out to near-universal acclaim and big box office receipts, the studio has set a release date for The LEGO Movie 2, which will hit cinemas on May 26th 2017. Yes, that's an awful long wait.

    The LEGO Movie 2 is currently being written by Jared Stern (The Internship, Mr. Popper's Penguins) and Michelle Morgan (Middle of Nowhere, Girl Most Likely). At this point it's unknown whether directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller will return - they chose to hand over directing duties on Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, but did stick around for the upcoming 22 Jump Street, so obviously they aren't averse to revisiting material.

    The LEGO Movie is out now, with a voice cast that includes Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, Charlie Day, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill and Cobie Smulders. Read our reviews here, here and here.





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    When it comes to superhero movie news, Warner Bros. has taken a back seat to Marvel Studios, 20th Century Fox and Sony this past week, but with a lull in Batman vs. Superman headlines, Latino-Review has thrown up another casting rumour for the Man of Steel sequel, claiming that the studio is looking to add another DC superhero to the ever-expanding roster of the follow-up to last year's Superman reboot.

    According to the site, WB is looking to cast a young and physically fit black actor in his early 20s for a small role in Batman vs. Superman, with a view to appearing in multiple future DC movies (the obvious candidate here would be Victor Stone, a.k.a. Cyborg). The report goes on to claim that Snyder has met with Michael B. Jordan about the role, but with Jordan set to play The Human Torch in The Fantastic Four, you'd have to wonder whether he'd be open to taking on another recurring superhero role at this point. Although he has played Cyborg previously, in the DC animated feature Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox...

    Ordinarily, I'd be taking this report with a pinch of salt, but the Man of Steel himself Henry Cavill has previously stated that he'd like to see Cyborg appearing in the DC Universe, and seeing as he's a core part of the New 52 Justice League, you'd have to imagine Vic will be introduced sooner rather than later. So, when Cyborg does make his debut, who would you like to see in the role? Let us know in the comments below, or head on over to The Flickering Myth Forum...

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





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    Anghus Houvouras on what Guardians of the Galaxy can teach us about geek marketing...

    We live in a time where films are being marketed from the moment they are announced.  As soon as Zack Snyder took the stage at Comic-Con in 2013 and announced Man of Steel 2 would actually be Batman vs. Superman, the internet started a steady stream of information that soon turned to a pour, then a deluge. 

    The internet age has given us unprecedented levels of information about upcoming movies.  In the days before the world wide web, you would hear about a movie going into production and would barely hear a word until you saw the trailer, which you weren't even aware of because back then you didn't know what previews would be screened prior to the film.  I can still remember in May of 1989 recording a summer movie preview special on my VCR that showed behind the scenes footage of Batman and The Abyss and watching it again and again.  That kind of advance look was rare and usually limited to 30 second segments on Entertainment Tonight.  They were simpler times.

    Now we have every detail telegraphed.  We know about movies from the moment the pen hits the paper.  The Hollywood Reporter releases a blurb online before the ink is even dry.   Do they still sign contracts with pens?  Am I further dating myself?  Now we even know what trailers are going to be attached to movies.  The element of mystery is completely gone.  Well, not completely.

    This week the Guardians of the Galaxy trailer hit and has taken the internet by storm.  There's a lot of buzz around the clip as well as the first poster.  Both pieces of media balance space faring adventure with a healthy amount of comedy and swagger.  The fact that the words 'You're Welcome' appear under the release date is a testament to Marvel's resolve to do something different with the marketing.  Taking it back to the faucet analogy, Marvel has been giving us a consistent drip with Guardians.  Little bits here and there but not showing us too much.  For all intents and purposes, the trailer was really everyone's first glimpse into the world of this widely unknown comic book.

    I think you can credit the heavy buzz to the fact that Marvel waited before showing us too much.  That steady drip kept everybody curious, and finally when they had something worth showing they turned the faucet up.  Right now we have a nice healthy pour of information about theGuardians.  The trailer gave us the tone and the characters, but it didn't dive deep into the story.   There's still an element of mystery to the Guardians, still things left to discover.

    On the other side of the sink you have X-Men: Days of Future Past which bypassed the drip and the pour and have been flooding the net with information since sets were being built.  Bryan Singer was tweeting random photos every other day.  Behind the scenes photos were being printed and published with a ridiculous level of frequency.  A teaser trailer was released without a single, solitary 'Holy Shit' moment.  This past week saw almost two dozen poorly rendered character photos hitting the web.  The pipes have burst.  The damn has broken.  The same strategy was adopted by The Amazing Spider-Man 2 who has been out there every week with a new villain announcement or set photo.

    The marketing for Guardians and X-Men is a strong statement about how much better Marvel is at packaging their product than 20th Century Fox or Sony. 

    What Guardians of the Galaxy can teach us is that geek films are often better served by a 'less is more' approach.  A steady drip of marketing.  A more reserved approach to the reveal.  Guardians of the Galaxy is giving us just enough to keep us interested. Where Days of Future Past is involved in an epic data dump that lacks focus and cohesion. 

    The win for Guardians was being content flying below the radar for awhile.  It's the one Marvel property out there that no one has a strong grasp of.  Up until a week ago, people had devoted more words to the lack of tangible information out there about the film than anything official.  The Nova Corps Helmets at Comic-Con, Vin Diesel voicing Groot, Bradley Cooper as Rocket.   What we didn't know about the film was far greater than what we did.   The more reserved approach feels downright inspired in a day and age of the media onslaught.  Days of Future Past and Amazing Spider-Man 2 seemed to employ a less conservative strategy fighting to see who could flood the net with more media.  A kind of scorched earth marketing policy that leaves nothing to the imagination.  There are no blanks for you to fill in.  Only data to parse.  A flood to endure.  

    Geek films could learn something from Guardians of the Galaxy.  Generating buzz isn't always about 'more'.  There's still a lot of value in the slow reveal and an element of discovery in marketing.  Seeing how Marvel is handling Guardians of the Galaxy is downright refreshing. 


    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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    Trevor Hogg chats with Phedon Papamichael about working with Alexander Payne and the cinematography featured in Nebraska...


    “I was a young striving cinematographer at the time,” recalls Phedon Papamichael (3:10 to Yuma) who first met filmmaker Alexander Payne (About Schmidt) at UCLA Film School.  “I had a job interview with him for his UCLA graduate film which I did not get.  I ended up shooting a different UCLA graduate film with Alexander being the boom operator.  We knew each other socially and lived in the same part of Los Angeles, the Silver Lake Area.  I’d be aware of what he was doing and he’d be aware of what I was doing.  I was happy when I saw Alexander made his first film Citizen Ruth [1996] and liked it.  We often talked about films.  It wasn’t until Sideways [2004] when he called out of the blue and asked me if I wanted to shoot his next film.  I said, ‘That sounds great.  I’m on vacation in Greece and I’ll be back in four to five weeks.’  He goes, ‘That’s fine. I’m tweaking the script. I’ll send you a new draft.’  We met and it started.  I asked him about Jim Glennon [Flight of the Navigator] who shot his first three films and Alexander said, ‘I told him we’ve been married for a long time and now I feel like it’s time to cheat on you.’  Ironically on Sideways he mentioned Nebraska[2013] to me.  Alexander said, ‘After this I want to do this small film that takes place in my home state.  It’s called Nebraska and I want to shoot it in black and white.’  There was a long period between Sideways and Descendants [2011] because Alexander was developing another script of his called Downsizing which he has commenced writing again; it’s a bigger budget film because it involves visual effects.  We have certainly found a nice rhythm on Nebraska after having collaborated on two prior movies.  When I read Nebraska it seemed like a much more visual and cinematic story for him; his movies are always about the characters, dialogue and the nuances of performances.  I felt that we had an opportunity to support the characters whereas in other movies I’m always trying to be subtle about it and not be too aggressive with the visual interpretation.”



    Nebraska is a comedy-drama revolving around an aged father (Bruce Dern) and his son (Will Forte) travelling together to collect a $1 million sweepstakes reward.   “You have a certain intimacy with somebody on the road in a car,” notes Papamichael who was born in Greece and grew up in Germany.  “Even before we started the movie Alexander asked me to meet him at Billings, Montana, and he drove up from Omaha.  We went on the full road trip of the actual route.  We drove through South Dakota, Wyoming, stopped at Mount Rushmore and got out.  We were basically Woody and his son.  Alexander did that mostly for me to get a sense of the vastness of the land, the actual distances, sleeping in little motels along the way, going to bars, turning into towns and cruising down Main Street.  Alexander wanted me to get an impression of it without talking specifically about the movie or us looking for specific locations.  It was to get a feel for the Midwest.”  The four day journey by car had an impact on the cinematography. “I’ve lived many years in America and shot in Texas but it was impressive how large that part of the country is, how the landscape changes subtly, how isolated people are from each other and how they communicate.  As we were entering the towns the sign would say population 12,000 or 9,000.  We would go down Main Street and I’d never see any people.  If you go into a small town in Italy or Greece no matter what the population is there are kids running around the streets and old men are sitting in cafés staring out at you.  I’d ask, ‘Alexander where is everybody?’  He’d say, ‘I don’t know.  I guess they’re inside watching TV.’”


    “There’s a different dynamic that takes place and it’s all reflected in the themes of the film,” observes Phedon Papamichael.  “The way the brothers and relatives communicated there was no eye contact when they talked.  Everybody is looking at the football game, and its stark and minimal dialogue. We tried to reflect a lot of that in the shots and compositions. We played not only the graphic value of the wideness of the land in compositions but also the interiors. We crammed all of the brothers sitting together in living room on these awkward couches watching TV and that frame gets a laugh from the audience before the dialogue starts.  It gets many more laughs once they start talking. There’s a lot of humour in those shots as well.  All of those impressions were made on that first trip and I took a still camera loaded with black and white film and started generating the first images. We printed those up.  We didn’t reference that many classic American photographers. We never really researched or referenced movies specifically.  We showed each other movies that we liked in general.  In this case Alexander was showing me a lot of Japanese films that didn’t relate to the film so much but they were black and white.  We looked at Paper Moon [1973], The Last Picture Show [1971], and Hud [1963].”


    “Initially, we wanted to shoot on black and white film stock and were excluded from that option because the studio when green lighting the film demanded a colour version as well,” reveals Phedon Papamichael.  “Hopefully with Nebraska being recognized as a black and white film it won’t be necessary.  Nobody is going to ask to see a colour version of Manhattan [1979] or Raging Bull [1980].  I was forced to test colour film stock.  I was also looking at digital cameras in order to generate a colour negative which is scanned and entered into the digital world by working in a DI [Digital Intermediate]; that is where we created the black and white, and set the density and contrast levels to where we wanted.  I was able to achieve that look fairly easily with my colourist Skip Kimble [A Good Day to Die Hard] at Technicolor; we experimented with adding actual film grain to the film.  I asked for a print of Paper Moon and we used it as a reference in terms of how much grain those films had. I did parallel projections and tried to fine tune the texture but not to overdo it.  It worked well.  I had Haskell Wexler who shot America, America [1963] and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf [1966] call and ask me what film stock I shot.  I did use older film lenses, anamorphic Panavision C series that also helps with that filmic quality. They’re not as sharp and fall off at the edges.  They also help to convey the feel of those classic 1970s films.”



    “It is a completely different challenge to work on a big Hollywood film like Knight and Day [2010] which involves previs, storyboards, complicated camera moves and a lot of technical aspects,” observes Phedon Papamicheal.  “As a storyteller and cinematographer I’m more attracted to more intimate pieces that the capture performances and focus on basic storytelling; that’s why I enjoy working with Alexander and with James Mangold who is also like that.”  The process involves not placing lot of technical restraints upon the cast members.   “Nothing is storyboarded or pre-designed.   We observe the actors and go, ‘We’ll start with this shot over here and if that works maybe we’ll add another shot over here.’  It’s simple and the shots never try to draw too much attention to themselves.  When the camera moves it’s in a way that moves with the actor and you’re not becoming conscious of it.  Also we try to save close-ups for the moments where they have enough impact.  If you overuse the close-ups and coverage they lose their power.  The moments that we select to go onto Bruce’s face they come at the right time and you get information that was not apparent to you as an audience before like his little insecurities or fears or confusion.”  Papamichael remarks, “We don’t do a lot of takes.  Alexander says that the most important part for him is the casting and editing.  Once Alexander selects his thespians for a story he takes his time and we find the performance within it.”



    Nebraska is a small show and all of the houses, bars and restaurants are real functioning locations,” states Papamichael.  “We altered few things in terms of set dressing. Alexander has this dogma about the reality of things.   It has to be the actual road trip, it’s in geographically correct order, and you’ll never get a pretty shot of sky in Wyoming that actually takes place in Nebraska.  It’s a challenge to be on the road with a small crew.  I was camera operating myself. We didn’t have a video village as we call it, a bunch of monitors where people are hanging out.  We only had an on board monitor and Alexander is right next to the camera.  It’s an intimate group that makes a movie: boom guy, focus puller, cameraman, director and actors.  It’s a challenge because you are working in the car which is street driving not in a rig.   You have to take advantage of the natural light and there’s not a lot of space to put any equipment.  Usually, we have 50 days but this one finished under 35 days with an additional reduced road unit for three days.  You have less control, and have to be more flexible and be reactive to what happens and what the actors do and work within the constraints of the small locations.  There’s this other way Alexander creates this sense of reality is by casting a lot of locals and you’re dealing with non-actors with your actors.”



    “Whenever you’re shooting a movie like this and dealing with all of the real elements there are a lot of happy accidents,” believes Phedon Papamichael.  “Sometimes you lose and sacrifice things but the flipside of that is you do also get lucky a lot of times. The sequence where they go to the graveyard turned out nicely. We have beautiful cloud structures and tried to take advantage of that. We shot it in a way where we could complete the scene in a period of time where you maintain that quality of light. Also when they go to the abandoned farmhouse it was difficult to light that and since the shots are selective we manoeuvred through the house in a way where we took advantage of the natural light. There’s no lighting placed in that house at all when they do that tour through his childhood home.”  The cinematic effort has captured the attention of the Oscars as Papamichael has received his first Academy Award nomination.  “With Nebraska the choice of black and white makes it standout and how it applied itself to this particular story and these characters, Bruce’s performance and the writing; they all work in harmony and support the story.  People recognize that whether it’s consciously, technically or on a subconscious level. It’s always a great compliment to have local people, in this case the Midwesterners, responding to the story. A lot of people have a parent or a father like Woody and go through the full emotional range of laughing and crying. It means that we have captured something that feels emotionally real and also has a certain aesthetic to it that serves the story.”



    Many thanks to Phedon Papamichael for taking the time for this interview.


    Make sure to visit the official websites for Nebraska and Phedon Papamichael.



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





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