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    Captain America: The Winter Soldier, 2014.

    Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo.
    Starring Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Samuel L. Jackson, Anthony Mackie, Frank Grillo, Robert Redford, Cobie Smulders, Toby Jones, Emily VanCamp, Hayley Atwell and George St-Pierre.


    Steve Rogers struggles to embrace his role in the modern world and battles a new threat from old history: the Soviet agent known as the Winter Soldier.

    Ever since Iron Man kicked off Marvel's Cinematic Universe back in 2008, there has been one phrase that crops up again and again from press notes, critics and fans - "this is the best Marvel movie yet". So it seems quite cliche and pointless to highlight in this opening paragraph, but Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the best solo movie in Marvel's Cinematic Universe yet.

    And while the movie doesn't offer up anything truly new for the genre, it does have a drastic change of pace from what we're used to seeing. Not only is it refreshing, but it shows us what makes the idea of the shared Universe so enthralling.

    As with Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier takes place after "the events of New York" and sees Steve Rogers trying to adjust to life in the 21st Century as well as integrate himself into S.H.I.E.L.D. Unfortunately for our hero, this is an organisation with trust issues and secrets, something Rogers isn't overly fond of. Worse yet, there appears to be a mole within their ranks and before long, Rogers and Black Widow find themselves on the run while trying to unravel just how S.H.I.E.L.D. was compromised - and trying not to get killed by the mysterious Winter Soldier.

    What separates Captain America: The Winter Soldier from the rest of the Cinematic Universe is that it doesn't just play to the comic book movie traditions. Instead, we are given a well-written and pretty cool espionage thriller with some good twists, plenty of intrigue and a well executed payoff. To call the plot intricate would be misleading and, while it will leave you guessing, your first guess as to where the plot is heading will probably be the right one. However, this different tone really makes Captain America: The Winter Soldier feel new. It does end up in the tried and tested 'save the world' scenario during the third act, but the first two thirds really offer a different perspective on where you can take these costumed characters. Kevin Feige said that they wanted to make a "70s political thriller masquerading as a superhero movie" and they have succeeded in that. 

    However, there is a victim in all of this. The Winter Soldier.

    Much like this year's RoboCop remake, The Winter Soldier really plays second fiddle to the plot that surrounds him. Despite being in the title of the movie, he is overshadowed by bigger things and while you could call him the "main villain" of the movie, he's not what drives the plot forward. Bucky's relationship with Rogers is an important part of Captain America lore and it's not really explored to its full potential. It is briefly touched upon, but for the most part it's forced down our throats to make the conclusion seem all the more dramatic. With that said, Sebastian Stan does well within the role given the short amount of time he has and he has a great look - even if it does feel a little Spider-Man 3 Green Goblin. With a bit more time spent on Bucky rediscovering who he really is, he could have been a great villain.

    It's not just Sebastian Stan who provides a great performance as every member of the cast does a brilliant job. Chris Evans has always been borderline 'not caring' as Steve Rogers, but this is the first time in the role where he looks like he's really enjoying himself playing the character and he is 100% convincing as Captain America. Scarlett Johansson (who has had a great year so far) is once again good as Black Widow and MCU newcomer Anthony Mackie is enjoyable as Falcon. With a bit of luck, he'll be given more time to show off what he can do in other movies other than just playing the Robin to Evans' Batman. UFC legend George St. Pierre has a fun (if brief) appearance as Batroc the Leaper and Frank Grillo is incredibly menacing as Brock Rumlow, the man who would eventually become Crossbones. People have accused Robert Redford of doing this movie "just for the money", but he is really great as the secretive Alexander Pierce.

    And while the movie is plot driven and is mostly about the espionage part of its story, it's the action scenes where the movie really catches fire. Everyone gets their moment to shine and Anthony and Joe Russo direct with such flair that every time an action beat ends you'll want to leap out your seat and pump your fist. Just like the film they're in, the action in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (for the most part) is unlike any other Marvel movie. The Russo Brothers do tend to rely on Bourne style shakey-cam to hide the breaks in their choreography and it can get a touch confusing at times, but they have crafted some spectacular set pieces that serve as good buffers between story beats.

    Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a movie where everything gels. It's not perfect and it isn't a game changer like The Dark Knight for example, but it really stands above the movies that have come before it. The performances are great, the story is good and the action is pulse-racingly brilliant. It also might be the most important movie within the Marvel Universe as it is bound to play a huge part in Avengers: Age of Ultron and Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. So, while it may feel like a cliche to give it the label, Captain America: The Winter Soldier really is the best solo Marvel movie to date.

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

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

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    Earlier in the week we got our first look at Donal Logue (Blade, Sons of Anarchy) in Fox's upcoming Batman prequel series Gotham thanks to a set photo showing him and Ben McKenzie (The O.C., Batman: Year One) as a mustache-free Jim Godon, and now we've got the first official promo shot from the series featuring Bullock's "rough-around-the-edges" GCPD Detective...

    Presumably we can expect to see plenty more of the character images over the coming days and weeks...

    Everyone knows the name Commissioner Gordon. He is one of the crime world’s greatest foes, a man whose reputation is synonymous with law and order. But what is known of Gordon’s story and his rise from rookie detective to Police Commissioner? What did it take to navigate the multiple layers of corruption that secretly ruled Gotham City, the spawning ground of the world’s most iconic villains? And what circumstances created them – the larger-than-life personas who would become Catwoman, The Penguin, The Riddler, Two-Face and The Joker?

    Gotham is currently filming under director Danny Cannon (Judge Dredd), with a cast that also includes David Mazouz (Touch) as Bruce Wayne, Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers) as Alfred Pennyworth, Robin Lord Taylor (Another Earth) as Oswald Cobblepot, newcomer Camren Bicondova as Selina Kyle, Jada Pinkett Smith (The Matrix) as Fish Mooney, Zabryna Guevara (The Guilt Trip) as Detective Essen, Erin Richards (Being Human) as Barbara Kean, and Drew Powell (Malcolm in the Middle) as Butch Gilzean.

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    Divergent, 2014.

    Directed by Neil Burger.
    Starring Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ashley Judd, Jai Courtney, Ray Stevenson, Zoe Kravitz, Miles Teller, Tony Goldwyn, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, Mekhi Phifer and Kate Winslet.


    In a world divided by factions based on virtues, Tris learns she's Divergent and won't fit in. When she discovers a plot to destroy Divergents, Tris and the mysterious Four must find out what makes Divergents dangerous before it's too late.

    Divergent has an uncomfortable, bizarre sense of swagger. As the leaders of Divergent’s world scream down upon it’s citizens to conform to societal norms, as do the producers, briefly dipping their toes into unchartered waters before panicking, fleeing into the paint-by-numbers YA tosh so evident throughout recent film memory. Director Neil Burger flirts with complex ideas of genocide but the incessant need for turgid romance fails to ignite any sort of spark.

    Based upon Veronica Roth’s incredibly popular series, Divergent depicts a Chicago ravaged by war. Society is divided into five factions: Amity, Erudite, Candor, Dauntless and Abnegation. Tired of the drab paradigm of Abnegation, Beatrice (Shailene Woodley) falls in with the Dauntless, a group of seemingly impossibly obnoxious “soldiers” who feel it necessary to woop and climb everything in sight. From there, a series of never-ending montages show the newly crowned “Tris” sparring with Peter (Miles Teller), befriending Christina (Zoe Kravitz) and forming an awkward sexless sexual relationship with the absurdly named Four (Theo James).

    The training montages move so rapidly to all-out-war that it is almost impossible to distinguish between what it the true threat. Watching Miles Teller “American History X” Shailene Woodley carries far more threat than watching Woodley run from point A to point B in order to save point C. Ideas of genocide and racism are flirted with throughout yet are abandoned before they can develop into anything interesting.

    There’s a glorious sense of irony in the attempt, and failure to move away from traditional genre tropes. In tackling ideas of genocide, there’s an underlying intelligence rarely evident in YA adaptations but romance prevails once again. The film hangs entirely on the chemistry between Theo James and Shailene Woodley and to there praise, it succeeds; up until they are forced into a relationship. From there, pregnant pauses and intense staring result in unintentional laughter and a tired, predictable finale.

    Decent ideas run through Divergent. Flirting with genocide and racism can only go so far before teenage girls force their way through the fourth wall, demanding turgid tired romance. Whereas The Host fell at the first hurdle, Divergent at least has a brickwork to build from.

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

    Thomas Harris

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    The official Marvel site has revealed that actor and comedian Patton Oswalt (King of Queens, Ratatouille) is set to join the cast of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., where he'll guest star in the role of Agent Eric Koenig, a character who made his comic book debut in the pages of Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos as a wartime associate of Nick Fury.

    Patton Oswalt in Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

    "I got a call from my agent saying they want you on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and I said ‘hell, yes,'" states Oswalt. “I’m lucky that I’m visible enough that they wanted to bring me in to play this character. I’d worked with [Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Executive Producer] Joss Whedon before on Dollhouse, and I guess I wasn’t too annoying and they decided to put me on another one of his shows. So I was very lucky... When they first told me the character’s name, I’ll admit the first thing I did is I went on Wikipedia and looked up the M.O.D.O.K. character to see if Koenig was maybe his name before he became M.O.D.O.K., but it wasn’t. They keep on talking about the Clairvoyant in the show and I’m like, ‘is that M.O.D.O.K.? Am I M.O.D.O.K.?"

    Oswalt becomes the latest name to guest star in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as a Marvel comic book character, with Bill Paxton (Aliens) currently appearing as Agent John Garrett and Adrian Pasdar (Heroes) set to appear in an upcoming episode as Major Glenn Talbot.

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    Earlier in the week we heard that Ivan Reitman has decided to pass on directing the long-awaited Ghosbusters III following the death of his friend and star Harold Ramis, and it seems that Sony has wasted little time in identifying his replacement(s).

    According to former Deadline editor-in-chief Nikki Finke, Sony have decided to call Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, 21 Jump Street and The LEGO Movie directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, with the duo said to have entered negotiations with the studio about taking on the Ghostbusters threequel.

    Lord and Miller are currently putting the finishing touches to another sequel 22 Jump Street, and given their track record, they would certainly seem to be a solid choice for Ghostbusters III, which is scheduled to enter production in early 2015.

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    20th Century Fox has laid out its Marvel plans for the next four years, with reporting that the studio has set release dates for The Fantastic Four 2, the third solo outing for Wolverine, and an as-yet-unrevealed title.

    Currently, Fox has X-Men: Days of Future Past arriving on May 23rd of this year, The Fantastic Four set for June 19th 2015 and X-Men: Apocalypse on May 27th 2016. Now it seems that will be followed by James Mangold's sequel to The Wolverine, which will apparently hit cinemas on March 3rd 2017, with The Fantastic Four 2 also arriving that year on July 14th.

    The studio then has another movie set for July 13th 2018, with possible candidates including Jeff Wadlow's X-Force and the rumoured X-Men vs. Fantastic Four crossover. However, you'd have to imagine another X-Men sequel would also be a strong possibility.

    How do you feel about Fox's upcoming slate? Let us know your thoughts....

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    Yesterday we brought you a new poster (and a selection of stills) from Gareth Edwards' (Monsters) eagerly-awaited Godzilla reboot [which you can see here], and now another poster has arrived online showing off the immense size of the King of the Monsters; take a look...

    Godzilla poster

    An epic rebirth to Toho’s iconic Godzilla, this spectacular adventure pits the world’s most famous monster against malevolent creatures who, bolstered by humanity’s scientific arrogance, threaten our very existence.

    The filmis set to open on May 16th with a cast that also includes Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass), Elizabeth Olsen (Oldboy), Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Ken Watanabe (Inception), David Strathairn (The Bourne Legacy), Juliette Binoche (The English Patient) and Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine). Watch the latest trailer here.

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    Robb Ghag reviews American Vampire: Second Cycle #1...

    Scott Synder and Rafael Albuquerque's long awaited return to the world of American Vampire starts off with the same epic artwork, gritty storyline, and brings back our favorite vamps true to form.

    Skinner Sweet returns to the Texas / Mexico border in 1965 as badass as ever, and doing the modern day version of what would be considered a stage coach robbery. And our heroine Pearl Jones, returns to her roots, as the ever loving vampire, protecting others who can’t protect themselves.

    With all of the other talisman characters Scott Synder has been writing, it was well worth the wait for him to delve back into the world of American Vampire. He includes a brief letter at the back of the book, where he says the first half of the American Vampire series, was establishing the world they lived in, and now in this series, is when all of these characters come crashing together!

    Rafael Albuquerque continues his amazing artwork in this series, never losing his touch from panel to panel, re-creating each character for their modern times. His artwork truly sets this book far and above any others.

    American Vampire: Second Cycle is what other vampire stories should aspire to be, and it’s only issue #1.

    Robb Ghag works for an Arts & Entertainment Brokerage in Toronto Canada. An Animation and Film school graduate, he specializes in Risk Management of Animation and VFX studios throughout North America.

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    George R.R. Martin says Game of Thrones movie a possibility
    Earlier this month, Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss revealed that they're planning seven seasons for their adaptation of George R.R. Martin's epic fantasy saga A Song of Ice and Fire, but now Martin himself has suggested that the series could go down the same route as Sex and the City, Veronica Mars and Entourage by making the jump to the big screen.

    "It all depends on how long the main series runs," Martin told The Hollywood Reporter. "Do we run for seven years? Do we run for eight? Do we run for 10? The books get bigger and bigger (in scope). It might need a feature to tie things up, something with a feature budget, like $100 million for two hours. Those dragons get real big, you know."

    Martin then went on to reveal that discussions have been taking place about the possibility of using his Tales of Dunk and Egg prequel novellas as source material for a big budget movie: "They could be the basis for [a film]. I have written these three stories, and I have about a dozen more."

    Would you like to see a Game of Thrones movie, or should they stick with telling the story on TV? Let us know your thoughts....

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    With its release fast approaching, a new trailer has arrived online for director Gareth Evans' martial arts action sequel The Raid 2, which you can check out below via IGN after the official synopsis...

    He thought it was over. After fighting his way out of a building filled with gangsters and madmen – a fight that left the bodies of police and gangsters alike piled in the halls – rookie Jakarta cop Rama thought it was done and he could resume a normal life. He couldn’t have been more wrong.

    Formidable though they may have been, Rama’s opponents in that fateful building were nothing more than small fish swimming in a pond much larger than he ever dreamed possible. And his triumph over the small fry has attracted the attention of the predators farther up the food chain. His family at risk, Rama has only one choice to protect his infant son and wife: He must go undercover to enter the criminal underworld himself and climb through the hierarchy of competing forces until it leads him to the corrupt politicians and police pulling the strings at the top of the heap.

    And so Rama begins a new odyssey of violence, a journey that will force him to set aside his own life and history and take on a new identity as the violent offender “Yuda.” In prison he must gain the confidence of Uco – the son of a prominent gang kingpin – to join the gang himself, laying his own life on the line in a desperate all-or-nothing gambit to bring the whole rotten enterprise to an end.

    The Raid 2 opens in North America on March 28th and in the UK on April 11th.

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    When it comes to superhero adaptations, you'll be hard pressed to find someone with more experience in the genre than David S. Goyer, whose credits include Blade, Blade II, Blade: Trinity, Blade: The Series, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Man of Steel, Batman vs. Superman and the upcoming Constantine TV series. Oh, and there's also Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., the 90s TV movie starring David Hasselhoff. Speaking to Comic Book Resources, Goyer has discussed comic book movie fans, and whether he pays any attention to their expectations when it comes to bringing these characters to the screen:

    "You’re dealing with an incredibly vocal but incredibly tiny sort of [group]. That’s a mistake that I think a lot of sometimes networks and movie studios make is sort of listening too much to [them]. I mean, it’s important to listen to the fan chatter but you’re really talking about a tiny, tiny, tiny portion of your audience that may not be representative of what your mainstream audience actually thinks or feels... I’m paraphrasing Steve Jobs, it’s like you don’t give the audience or the consumer what they want, you give them what they don’t even know they want. I mean, being involved in some of these comic book movies and stuff like that, people say, well, this is what they should do. And trust me, if we had just done exactly that I don’t think the audiences would have been completely happy. I mean that’s not to say that filmmakers can’t misfire, but if you try to just do what you think the fan community wants you’ll drive yourself crazy and you won’t actually write anything."

    How do you feel about Goyer's comments? Let us know your thoughts...

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    Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow has taken to Twitter to announce that Omar Sy, star of The Intouchables and the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past, has joined the cast of next year's eagerly-awaited dino sequel.

    The fourth instalment in the Jurassic Park franchise will see Sy starring alongside Chris Pratt (The LEGO Movie), Bryce Dallas Howard (Spider-Man 3), Vincent D'Onofrio (Law & Order: Criminal Intent), Nick Robinson (The Kings of Summer), Ty Simpkins (Iron Man 3), Jake Johnson (Drinking Buddies), Irrfan Khan (The Amazing Spider-Man), David Oyelowo (The Butler) and the returning BD Wong as Dr. Henry Wu. 

    Jurassic World is set for release on June 12th 2015.

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    Coming hot on the heels of this week's new trailer [which you can see here], Walt Disney Pictures has debuted a TV spot for its upcoming live-action Sleeping Beauty reimagining Maleficent, which sees Angelina Jolie taking on the role of the Mistress of All Evil; take a look below....

    From Disney comes “Maleficent”—the untold story of Disney’s most iconic villain from the 1959 classic “Sleeping Beauty.” A beautiful, pure-hearted young woman, Maleficent has an idyllic life growing up in a peaceable forest kingdom, until one day when an invading army threatens the harmony of the land. Maleficent rises to be the land’s fiercest protector, but she ultimately suffers a ruthless betrayal—an act that begins to turn her pure heart to stone. Bent on revenge, Maleficent faces an epic battle with the invading king’s successor and, as a result, places a curse upon his newborn infant Aurora. As the child grows, Maleficent realizes that Aurora holds the key to peace in the kingdom—and perhaps to Maleficent’s true happiness as well.

    Maleficent is set for release on May 30th, with Oscar-winning production designer Robert Stromberg (Avatar, Alice in Wonderland) directing a cast that also includes Elle Fanning (Super 8), Sharlto Copley (Elysium), Imelda Staunton (The Pirates! Band of Misfits), Miranda Richardson (The Hours), Juno Temple (The Dark Knight Rises), and Lesley Manville (Romeo and Juliet).

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    X-Men: Days of Future Past is still a couple of months away from hitting cinemas, but it seems Bryan Singer is already shifting much of his attention to the next X-Men sequel, X-Men: Apocalypse. We already know that the 2016 release is set to serve as an X-Men: First Class follow-up, taking place in the 1980s, but it appears that Singer is keen to bring in a few more familiar faces, with the director telling CinePremiere (via CBM) that, "I'm considering Gambit and Nightcrawler for Apocalypse. [I was] going to have Nightcrawler appear in [Days of Future Past] and even wrote a scene, but I felt that we were forcing to many mutants."

    Both Nightcrawler and Gambit have appeared in the X-Men franchise before, with Alan Cumming playing Nightcrawler in X2: X-Men United and Taylor Kitsch portraying Gambit in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Meanwhile, Channing Tatum (21 Jump Street) has expressed an interest in taking on the role of the Cajun card-thrower, with producer Lauren Shuler Donner stating that she'd love to have Tatum as part of the mutant superhero franchise.

    X-Men: Days of Future Past is set for release on May 23rd, with franchise veterans Hugh Jackman (Wolverine), Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique), James McAvoy (Professor X), Michael Fassbender (Magneto), Nicholas Hoult (Beast), Patrick Stewart (Professor X), Ian McKellen (Magneto), Lucas Till (Havok), Halle Berry (Storm), Anna Paquin (Rogue), Ellen Page (Kitty Pryde), Shawn Ashmore (Iceman) and Daniel Cudmore (Colossus) joined in the packed ensemble cast by X-Men newcomers Evan Peters (American Horror Story) as Quicksilver, Booboo Stewart (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse) as Warpath, Omar Sy (The Intouchables) as Bishop, Fan Binbing (Iron Man 3) as Blink, Adan Canto (The Following) as Sunspot, Josh Helman (Mad Max: Fury Road) as William Stryker, and Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) as Bolivar Trask.

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    It would seem that it's not only Game Informer getting their mits on information regarding Arkham Knight now.

    Both Arkhamverse and GameRant have new pieces witch give us a few more details. Click on the links to find out some juicy information about the latest Batsuit, as well as more about the villains of the game. Here's a tidbit...

    “Various gadgets are key to the gameplay experience of Arkham Knight and we continued to develop Batman’s arsenal with new gadgets, and upgrades for old ones. The biggest upgrade is Batman’s suit, the Batsuit Mark 8. It upgrades Batman’s abilities in new ways… The way that Batman communicates with Oracle is also upgraded and in Arkham Knight he will use a holographic communicator. It enables players to see the person Batman is talking to through a holographic projection from his gauntlet.”

    Speaking of villains, Game Informer have several new images of Batman's Rogues Gallery. They also have a good natter about they have progressed the looks of the characters in the wake of the events that took place in Arkham City.

    Batman: Arkham Knight will be released on October 14th for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.

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    We posted our spoiler free review and podcast last night [see here and here], and now we've got a new TV spot from Marvel's latest solo offering Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which you can view right here 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 set for release on March 28th in the UK and April 4th in North America, with Chris Evans (Captain America), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury), Sebastian Stan (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 MCU newcomers Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker) 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.

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    Yesterday we got our first official look at Gotham with a character image featuring Donal Logue (Sons of Anarchy) as Detective Harvey Bullock, and now it's the turn of newcomer Camren Bicondova, who will play Selina Kyle, a.k.a. the future Catwoman...

    Camren Bicondova as Selina Kyle in Gotham

    Everyone knows the name Commissioner Gordon. He is one of the crime world’s greatest foes, a man whose reputation is synonymous with law and order. But what is known of Gordon’s story and his rise from rookie detective to Police Commissioner? What did it take to navigate the multiple layers of corruption that secretly ruled Gotham City, the spawning ground of the world’s most iconic villains? And what circumstances created them – the larger-than-life personas who would become Catwoman, The Penguin, The Riddler, Two-Face and The Joker?

    Gotham is currently filming under director Danny Cannon (Judge Dredd), with a cast that also includes David Mazouz (Touch) as Bruce Wayne, Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers) as Alfred Pennyworth, Robin Lord Taylor (Another Earth) as Oswald Cobblepot, Jada Pinkett Smith (The Matrix) as Fish Mooney, Zabryna Guevara (The Guilt Trip) as Detective Essen, Erin Richards (Being Human) as Barbara Kean, and Drew Powell (Malcolm in the Middle) as Butch Gilzean.

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    We've had the "final" trailer [which you can see here], but Sony is continuing its marketing blitz for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, with MTV News posting a few new images which include a shot of Electro (Jamie Foxx) and our best look yet at The Rhino (Paul Giamatti) in full armor, while we've also got a new international TV spot featuring a few snippets of previously unseen footage....

    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 (Andrew Garfield). For Peter Parker, there’s no feeling quite like swinging between skyscrapers, embracing being the hero, and spending time with Gwen (Emma Stone). 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 (Jamie Foxx), Peter must confront a foe far more powerful than he. And as his old friend, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), 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 on April 18th in the UK and on May 1st in North America, with returning stars Andrew Garfield (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 by new additions Dane DeHaan (Chronicle) as Harry Osborn, 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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    Brian Tyler to score Avengers: Age of Ultron
    It was rumoured several months ago that Brian Tyler (Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World) had been tapped to compose the score for Avengers: Age of Ultron, and now according to Film Music Reporter it's official that Tyler has signed on to the eagerly-anticipated 2015 sequel, taking over from Alan Silvestri who scored the 2012 mega-blockbuster. Tyler is certainly busy at the moment and his several high profile gigs on his slate, including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Fast & Furious 7.

    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 Hemsworth (Thor), Chris Evans (Captain America), 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, Elizabeth Olsen (Oldboy) as the Scarlet Witch, Thomas Kretschmann (Dracula) as Baron Strucker, and James Spader (The Blacklist) as Ultron.

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    Simon Columb continues our Al Pacino Retrospective with The Insider...

    Working together on Heat (only four years prior to The Insider) meant that Al Pacino and Michael Mann clearly had chemistry worth exploring. Replacing the action-sequences with political intrigue and tense paranoia meant this could hardly be billed as a follow-up. The Insider tackles the big business of tobacco and the ongoing contradiction of American capitalism – whereby the almighty dollar trumps justice. Except in this case, investigative journalism alongside the justice system mounted a campaign that resulted in a $368 billion settlement between the four largest tobacco companies in America. Suffice to say, Brown and Williamson – the ‘villainous’ company at the centre of The Insider– merged with Reynolds American in 2004 and is still the second-largest tobacco company in the states.

    Written by Eric Roth and Michael Mann, The Insider dramatizes the events leading to the aforementioned campaign. Whistle-blower Jeffrey Wigand (Russell Crowe) revealed on CBS expose 60 Minutes that, in a court of law, Brown and Williamson lied and covered up their increase in addictive supplements to their cigarettes. This could be merely the small man tackling the big corporation with the support of a kindly lawyer – a la Erin Brokovich. Instead, the core of the story is in the hands of 60 Minutes producer, Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino). Through Bergman, we see the conflicted ethics of those who work in journalism – a far call from the phone-tapping and criminal activities of those involved in the Leveson inquiry. Bergman convinces Wigand to tell his story – and to tell the whole truth for the sake of us; the public. Roger Ebert, rating the film 3.5 out of 4, rightfully compares the film to All The President’s Men, but crucially notes the very personal nature of this story: “The Insider had a greater impact on me than All the President's Men, because you know what? Watergate didn't kill my parents. Cigarettes did.”

    It is easy to forget how connected an enormous corporation, sitting atop a towering skyscraper connects to the working man – but increasing the addictive supplements in cigarettes is a pretty clear link. Michael Mann tackles the story in long-form, running to nearly three hours. Introducing Bergman as he attempts to snag an interview with a known terrorist in the opening sequence, on one level jars with the context and tone of the film, but also highlights how enemies – as dangerous and sinister as religious extremists are also within the western world. Indeed, Crowe as the fidgety, possibly-unhinged Jeffrey Wigand plays with our own assumptions as we question more than merely the corporation. Pacino plays Lowell Bergman as the conflicted man a journalist must become – while his own stand against CBS’s decision to screen a cut version of the interview places him on a forced vacation, when he contacts Wigand – holed up inside a hotel after his family has left him – we see the contrast between the beach house Bergman is in and near suicidal Wigand. Bergman may have played an important role in illuminating the issue, but we need more Wigand’s.

    The Insider does explore avenues of character that prolong the events. Wigand’s failed marriage is clearly set-up and broken down, while Bergman’s relationship with host Mike Wallace (Christopher Plummer) is constantly a source for comparison. The prestige and legacy Wallace wants to leave behind is set against the purpose – and cost - of the job itself. Indeed, Bergman is fighting for what he believes. These sub-plots, though something Mann often explores, detract from the core of the story and can stagger the story. But what a story it is. Often the media and court system can be perceived as merely a villain and frustration to the greater cause, so it is refreshing to see how they can support the just and the good. And Al Pacino is remarkable.

    Simon Columb

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