Previews: Okja Trailer, The Mummy, More!

Plenty in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the Okja trailer, The Mummy, War for the Planet of the Apes, and more…

Okja Trailer

Here is the latest Okja trailer. Bong Joon Ho’s film is having its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. Okja is about a girl who must stop a corporation from capturing her gentle friend. The film stars Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Paul Dano. Okja launches globally on Netflix on 28th June 2017.

The Mummy Featurette

This featurette on The Mummy reveals a bit more about the characters and the world of the film. The film is intended to be the first in a series of a franchise rebooting the Universal Monsters. Russell Crowe plays Dr Jekyll (the Robert Louis Stevenson creation), with Sofia Boutella starring as the title character. With a cast headed by Tom Cruise, The Mummy hits UK screens on 9th June 2017.

War for the Planet of the Apes Trailer

Here is the latest trailer for War for the Planet of the Apes. The film completes a trilogy that began with Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The series acts as a prequel to the 1968 classic Planet of the Apes. Starring Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, and Steve Zahn, War for the Planet of the Apes is out in UK cinemas on 14th July 2017.

Baby Driver Poster

This poster for Baby Driver gives an idea for the tone of the film. Directed by Edgar Wright, the film is about a young getaway driver who hopes to ditch his criminal life. The cast includes Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, and Lily James. Baby Driver is released in UK cinemas on 28th June 2017.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard Trailer

Here’s hoping the film is as hilarious as the premise. Ryan Reynolds stars as the bodyguard attempting to protect Samuel L. Jackson’s hitman in action comedy The Hitman’s Bodyguard. With two likeable leads in an odd couple pairing, the film could be a winner. The Hitman’s Bodyguard is out in UK cinemas on 18th August 2017.

Wonder Woman TV Spot

Here is one of the new TV spots for the upcoming Wonder Woman. The first live-action film based on one of the most famous comic book characters, the film has been a long time coming. Directed by Patty Jenkins, and starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, and Robin Wright, Wonder Woman launches onto UK screens on 1st June 2017.

IT Clip

Hopefully this adaptation of Stephen King’s IT lives up to the novel’s reputation. A group of kids (the ‘Losers Club’) must face their biggest fears when children start going missing in the town of Derry. Starring Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise, IT is set for release on 8th September 2017.

Film Review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Director Matt Reeves’ Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a wonderful accomplishment in terms of effects, narrative and action sequences, and a thoroughly entertaining blockbuster.

Ten years after the initial outbreak of simian flu, Caesar leads a growing band of genetically evolved apes. When a group of human survivors stumbles across the apes, the threat to both groups is clear…

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is positioned in rather a curious position in being a sequel to a prequel. Viewers are aware of what is inevitable, so the film focuses on the journey towards this point. Given the outcome revealed in the previous Planet of the Apes movies, it would be understandable if this new film lacked engagement. Thankfully, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes eschews any pitfalls of its positioning.

Set ten years after the events of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Matt Reeves’ movie is a most worthy successor. The film works so well because it focus on a microcosm of activity, which has universal impact. The intricacies and issues of the relationship between humans and the evolved apes are explored in a detail which is compelling, yet allows Dawn of the Planet of the Apes to fulfill its blockbuster expectations.

The narrative explore the fragile relationship, focusing on Caesar from the first film and Malcolm, a new human protagonist. Through their attempts to understand each other, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes explores the best and worst of the human condition, drawing overt parallels between humans and the evolved animals. This is effective, as the character of Caesar is developed from the previous film, giving the audience a protagonist to root for.

There is a brooding inevitability about Dawn of the Planet of the Apes which takes the film to a place of covert horror. Despite knowing how the story will progress, the narrative is nevertheless engaging. Action sequences are finely executed, providing puff to the story’s pensiveness. The special effects in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes are a marvel. Even though viewers will know the apes are not real, the visual effects certainly fool the human eye.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a great sequel and a wonderful example of a blockbuster that provides spectacle as an addition to a thought-provoking story.

Stuff To Look At

A bumper post filled with trailers galore for the end of the week, featuring Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Nut Job and lots more…

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Cesar is such a badass. In this final trailer for the upcoming Dawn of the Planet of the Apes we are given more of an idea of the film’s narrative. But more importantly, apes on horses. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has big shoes to fill after the success of its predecessor Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but it looks up to the job, from this trailer at least. Rise of the Planet of the Apes hits the big screen on 17th July 2014.

Guardians of the Galaxy

Here is the second trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy, which shows more action and drama compared to the comedy of the first trailer. It looks as if the film will continue Marvel’s run of hits. Even if the franchise isn’t as well-known as the Avengers sphere, people will go for the gun-wielding raccoon. Guardians of the Galaxy is out in UK cinemas on 31st July 2014.

Transformers: Age of Extinction

Here is a new featurette for Michael Bay’s Transformers: Age of Extinction. The video focuses on Marky Mark’s character, but really everyone just wants to see the Transformers. Or the Dinobots. Tranformers: Age of Extinction is released on 5th July 2014.

Paddington

With the news that Colin Firth will no longer be voicing the bear, what will now become of Paddington? Who will the filmmakers find to voice the marmalade-swilling bear? Perhaps a Peruvian actor, for authenticity’s sake. In the mean time, here is the latest trailer for Paddington, set for release on 24th November 2014.

The Expendables 3

Expendables 3

Look at all this potent 1980s/90s magic right here. The Expendables 3 is loaded with action stars; Wesley Snipes and Antonio Banderas are just two of the new members to join the crew. Nevertheless, I was thinking that The Expendables 3 was missing something. And that is Brigitte Nielsen. Seriously, why isn’t Red Sonja in this? Anyway, The Expendables 3 hits UK screens on 14th August 2014. You can view the latest trailer here.

Penguins of Madagascar

The Penguins of Madagascar get their own spin-off movie of the same name. Featuring the vocal talents of Benedict Cumberbatch, the popular supporting characters take centre stage in this new film. I am liking the use of Kenny Loggins in the trailer. Penguins of Madagascar is scheduled for release in December 2014.

Big Hero 6

Big Hero 6 looks like it will be a good laugh. If I was constructing a robot, it would be for servitude purposes, not for fighting or crime solving, but each to their own. Big Hero 6 is set for release in UK cinemas in January 2015.

The Nut Job

The Nut Job is a new animated feature about a squirrel and his friends who go on a mission to break into a nut store. Nuts are great and that, but if you were going to all this effort, surely you would rob a chocolatiers? The Nut Job is released in UK cinemas on 1st August 2014.

Hercules

Hercules Poster

Dwayne Johnson’s muscle veins are pretty scary in this new poster for Hercules. Interestingly, there used to be a WWF (before it was WWE) wrestler called Hercules. I am sure this movie isn’t a biopic of his life. Hercules muscles his way into UK cinemas on 25th July 2014.

No Good Deed

Here is the trailer for thriller No Good Deed. Starring Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson, reminds viewers never to open the door to strangers. A fitting Halloween release, No Good Deed hits UK screens on 31st October 2014.

Home

Pig is a really good name for a cat. Home sees Jim Parsons (in voice) sounding like a very familiar character. Still, the film looks like it will be a lot of alien culture-clash fun. Home is scheduled for release in the UK on 27th March 2015.

Stuff To Look At

Here lies the brand new Interstellar trailer, plus Cinderella, Transformers: Age of Extinction, A Million Ways to Die in the West and more…

Interstellar

Here is the latest Interstellar trailer. Christopher Nolan’s hotly anticipated film stars Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain and Michael Caine. Interstellar will be released in the UK on 7th November 2014.

Cinderella

Hot on the tails of the upcoming Maleficent, another Disney classic is given the live-action treatment. Starring Cate Blanchett, Stellan Skarsgård and Helena Bonham Carter, and directed by Kenneth Branagh, This teaser does not reveal much, except an awfully shiny glass slipper. I always thought glass shoes would be incredibly painful to walk in, yet Cinderella dances the night away in hers. Anyway, Cinderella is set for release on 3rd April 2015.

Transformers: Age of Extinction

Here is the latest trailer for Transformers: Age of Extinction. The most important thing you will see occurs in the last twenty seconds. Dinobots! Starring Marky Mark, Stanley Tucci and Kelsey Grammer, although the humans are decidedly less important than the robots in disguise. Transformers: Age of Extinction hits UK screens on 10th July 2014.

A Million Ways to Die in the West

Above is a clip from the upcoming comedy A Million Ways to Die in the West. Without context, the clip seems only to offer a glimpse into the character of Albert, played by Seth MacFarlane, who also directs, produces and co-writes the film. A Million Ways to Die in the West is released in cinemas on 30th May 2014.

22 Jump Street

Here is a new clip from 21 Jump Street sequel 22 Jump Street. The film sees Schmidt and Jenko head to college. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum had good chemistry in the first film, which will hopefully be replicated here. 22 Jump Street hits UK cinemas on 6th June 2014.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

I saw this trailer in Imax a few days ago, and it looks mighty impressive on the big screen. The follow-up to the 2011 hit Rise of the Planet of the Apes stars Gary Oldman and Jason Clarke. I am hoping for flashback sequences of baby Cesar, although great action will do just fine. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is released on 17th July 2014.

Summer of Cinema

Here is a compilation of all the big films that are being released this summer, from the Film Distributors’ Association. I didn’t recognise all of them, but there are some exciting films to come this season. If you can’t get enough of trailer compilations, I suggest you check out this blockbuster one by AMONymous.

Stuff To Look At

Plenty of pre-Christmas visual treats this week, including the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer, 22 Jump Street, How To Train Your Dragon 2 and more…

A New York Winter’s Tale

A New York Winter’s Tale is a upcoming fantasy starring Colin Farrell and Jessica Brown Findlay. The film is the directorial debut of screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, who also wrote the screenplay based on Mark Helprin’s novel. A New York Winter’s Tale is out in UK cinemas on 21st February 2014.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Here is the first Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer. After the success of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, it makes sense that a sequel would follow. It is unclear whether this new film will bridge the gap between Rise and the original Planet of the Apes films, but one thing is clear: Cesar looks angry. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is due for release in July 2014.

22 Jump Street

Warning: this is the red band trailer. The film reboot of 21 Jump Street was something of a surprise success in that it actually worked well as a comedy. In sequel 22 Jump Street undercover cops Jenko and Schmidt go to college. The film is out in UK cinemas on 6th June 2014.

How To Train Your Dragon 2

How To Train Your Dragon was a great animated adventure, so I have high hopes for its sequel. This trailer for How To Train Your Dragon 2 does not reveal much in terms of plot, but it looks fantastic. How To Train Your Dragon 2 is set for release in June 2014.

Blended

What is Blended you ask? Well it is a new comedy that once again teams up Adam Sandler with Drew Barrymore. The thing that is giving me some hope is that it is directed by Frank Coraci, helmer of guilty pleasure The Wedding Singer. Blended is out in the UK on 23rd May 2014.

Grudge Match

Above is a featurette for upcoming movie Grudge Match. The film pits Robert De Niro against Sylvester Stallone when they are offered a chance to re-enter the boxing ring. So basically Raging Bull versus Rocky. Grudge Match is out in UK cinemas on 24th January 2014.

Mr Peabody and Sherman

I want Mr Peabody to adopt me! Frankly what is not to love about this film? A talking dog, who is also the smartest person in the world. Fantastic. Let’s hope Sherman isn’t too annoying. Mr Peabody and Sherman is released in the UK on 7th February 2014.

All I Want for Christmas… Part 2

Part 2 of my home video picks. These Blu-rays and DVDs are all released in time to be bought for Christmas presents. There are plenty of DVDs angling for stocking space, but these are three of the better ones.

Super 8

One of my favourite films of the year, Super 8 is a must see for fans of Spielberg’s 1980s blockbusters. Directed by J.J. Abrams and produced by Steven Spielberg, the film a group of teenagers shooting a movie who witness a terrifying crash. Super 8 pays homage to Spielberg’s classic sci-fi/adventure films, mixing nostalgia with pure entertainment. Rated 12, the film should be enjoyed by teens as well as adults who remember the films Super 8 pays homage to. The film is out on Triple Play Blu-Ray and DVD today. The DVD features a commentary plus two featurettes, while the Blu-Ray features a host of extras.

___

Rise of the Planet of the Apes 

Along with Super 8, Rise of the Planet of the Apes stood out among this summer’s blockbusters. Many were dubious about the film, a prequel to the science-fiction classic Planet of the Apes. However, director Rupert Wyatt delivered an unexpectedly good blockbuster, which offered a sound narrative as well as impressive special effects. Released on DVD and Blu-Ray today, Rise of the Planet of the Apes will surely be a welcome gift for anyone who enjoyed the film this summer. The DVD features deleted scenes, whilst the Blu-ray offers a number of featurettes, as well as audio commentaries.

Horrible Bosses

One for older viewers, the 15-rated Horrible Bosses is out on DVD and Triple Play Blu-Ray now. 2011 has not exactly been a vintage year for Hollywood comedy, but Horrible Bosses stands out as one of the better ones. Featuring a stellar cast, the film is about three disgruntled employees who plot to murder their bosses. There are some great jokes, although the film is worth watching for Jennifer Aniston’s star turn alone. The Blu-Ray offers some great extras including interviews with the cast, featurettes and additional scenes.

The Thing Featurette

The highly-anticipated prequel The Thing is released in cinemas on 2nd December 2011. If it is anywhere near as good as this summer’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, we are in for a treat. Although the production of sequels, prequels and remakes seems endless, John Carpenter’s The Thing was a remake itself. What is interesting about this most recent film is that it happens immediately before the first film. In the featurette above, cast and crew discuss recreating that world.

The Empire Big Screen Diaries – Day 1

I love the smell of pastries in the morning.

Luckily for me, mini baked goods were bountiful in the press room of Empire Big Screen. The air was thick with the scent of pastries, coffee and journalists. Outside, queues of early-rising movie fans eagerly collected their tickets and discussed plans for the day ahead. The timetable for the day consisted of numerous events taking place at the same time, so choosing wisely was essential.

First up for me was the 20th Century Fox Showcase. I have a great affection for their current blockbuster Rise of the Planet of the Apes, so I was pretty eager to discover what treats lay in store. We were given 3D glasses as we entered the auditorium, an indication of what might be on show. Before any trailers or movie clips were shown, a short piece on directors who have worked with Fox was screened. A brief love letter to the company, George Lucas, Ridley Scott, James Cameron, Tim Burton and other prominent directors relayed their experiences directing under Fox. It was a fluff piece, but if I was in charge, I too would boast about being responsible for Alien, Edward Scissorhands, Say Anything and others. I would probably be really obnoxious, and flash up “We were responsible for Star Wars, bitches!”, but Fox have more class than me. Anyway, Fox followed this up with a short featurette on the effects used in Rise, then trailers for In Time, The Darkest Hour and Martha Marcy May Marlene. The first two are glossy thrillers, both with a sci-fi edge. The third was Fox Searchlight’s drama, which was screened at Cannes. The final item was a few short clips from Titanic, remastered in 3D for the April 2012 release. Some of the 3D was incredibly impressive, particularly Kate Winslet’s hat in her first appearance in the 1997 film.

Next up on the agenda was a wander around the exhibitors stalls, which featured all the big film companies, plus other things such as the animal actors stall. I was almost bowled over with excitement to see The Dark Knight Rises stall, until I saw it was just a bench and a television playing the teaser trailer. I don’t know what I was expecting really. Perhaps a Christian Bale meet and greet and the entire film being screened, because that would be plausible.

Our bellies enquired about feeding time, so lunch was the next order of business. We went to Nando’s, which was tasty. We managed to get one of the booths, which is always fun. My creamy mash was on point, and the chicken pitta went down a treat (in case you were interested in a review of the food).

The Universal Pictures Showcase took place in the early afternoon. In attendance were the screenwriter of Tinker Tailor Solider Spy, Peter Straughan, and producer Robyn Slovo. The pair introduced three exclusive clips from the film, explaining the context of each before they were screened. These were certainly successful in building anticipation for the film; it looks great from these small glimpses and I am not even au fait with the novel. Gary Oldman also recorded a message to the audience, which was a nice touch. Following this, a number of other trailers and clips were shown. First up was a video message from Seann William Scott from the set of American Reunion, the fourth American Pie film. Inexplicably no trailer for the film was shown, despite this introduction. The Raven trailer was screened, however, and it looks mighty interesting – a must see for Edgar Allen Poe enthusiasts. Trailers for The Change-Up, The Debt, Johnny English Reborn, Tower Heights, Battleship and The Thing were also shown. We were also lucky enough to get a world exclusive look at the trailer for upcoming thriller Contraband, starring Mark Wahlberg. Finally a trailer and some clips of Immortals were screened. The film, which is released in November, looks pretty gory, albeit in a cartoonish way.

After this, we headed upstairs to Cineworld for the Pint of Milk Live with Dominic Cooper. As we made our way up the escalator, we noticed Mr Cooper himself was shortly behind us. He was dressed very sharply, and I fleetingly pondered talking to him. Thankfully for all involved, I quickly decided against this. The only thing I would have come up with would be something akin to the very lame “I thought you were great in The Devil’s Double“, so I’m glad I didn’t embarrass myself. I don’t mix well with well-known folk. In the interview, Dominic was hilarious as he answered questions about the price of a pint of milk and other similarly frivolous topics. It was a very amusing session.

The next event, taking place in the same screen, was Writing The Inbetweeners. Iain Morris and Damon Beesley, writers of the television show and upcoming movie, answered questions. I am not the biggest fan of the show, but the pair made the session entertaining with their anecdotes about working with the cast on set and coming up with ideas. After the Q & A, audience-members were invited to ask questions. Both Iain and Damon were great guests, eager to discuss the film and happy to chat with fans afterwards.

Final event of the day for me was the Secret Screening. Ideas for the film had been floating around before, but nobody could or would confirm or deny. I was in receipt of a big clue shortly before the screening, thanks to some good timing. I overheard someone from the film company going into the screen carrying a Lionsgate bag. By our powers of deduction (that is to say, I checked this site on my phone), the options seem limited to Conan the Barbarian or Warrior. My esteemed fellow film writers and I seemed to veer towards Conan until someone astutely pointed out that we had not been given 3D glasses. After a short delay, we all settled down to watch Warrior. The film was good, and surprisingly powerful (review to follow).

Film Review: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

As prequels go, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is certainly one of the better ones. Rupert Wyatt’s film is thoroughly entertaining and a suitable addition to the franchise.

Trying to find a cure for Alzheimer’s, scientist Will tests his genetic engineering experiments on apes in his San Francisco laboratory. After a test goes wrong, an ape is killed, and Will is left to care for her baby. Little Caesar shows remarkable cognitive development skills as he grows up with Will and his ailing father. After an incident, Caesar’s outlook and relationship with humans change…

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is so entertaining primarily because of its well-constructed story. Writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver have created a compelling narrative. Moreover, the story resonates with viewers as it is plausible. Set in the current day, the idea of genetic engineering to find cures is very contemporary. Although events in the film may be shocking, they are not totally fantastical.

Wyatt’s film provides a good combination of drama, comedy and action. For a big summer blockbuster, the use of action is restrained in the film. This factor makes the action scenes more powerful, and the violence more pronounced. The human story is unmistakably secondary to that of Caesar in Rise. Nonetheless, the construct works well to give reason for Will’s experiments and for raising the small ape. The film also features a surprising amount of humour, which effectively breaks some of the more tense moments.

Rise should be enjoyed by fans of the original film as it holds it in reverence. There are a number of references to events of the original film, making the transition between the two films smoother despite the decades that separate them. For those who have not seen the original, or read Pierre Boulle’s novel, Rise inevitably reveals the big twist. However, most viewers will be aware of it, and Wyatt’s film pays homage with an excellent use of the 1968 film’s immortal line.

The effects in the film are astounding. The motion-capture technique used by WETA are integrated seamlessly into the live action. The apes are incredibly expressive and natural looking. Wyatt’s direction is also commendable. There are some fantastic images, particularly in the second half of the film, such as the apes in the trees. Rise definitely provides a sense of spectacle.

Performances are good in the film, although the humans play second fiddle to the apes. James Franco and Frieda Pinto offer decent performances, and John Lithgow stands out as Will’s father. David Oyelowo is perfectly cast as the business-minded company head Steve Jacobs.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a very enjoyable film that offers great visuals as well as an absorbing narrative.

Damned Dirty (and Wonderfully Realised) Apes

Rise of the Planet of the Apes, a prequel to the Planet of the Apes series, is out in UK cinemas on 12th August 2011. After Tim Burton’s re-imagining of the original in 2001 received a mixed reception, one wonders whether there really is a desire for another Apes film. Nonetheless, the 2011 film, directed by Rupert Wyatt, offers an intriguing concept. The film will attempt to enlighten viewers about how the apes managed to take over. Set in the present day, the film will no doubt fill in some of the missing detail of what happens on Earth prior to the year 3978 (the setting of the original film).

It remains to be seen if the film can rival the calibre of its predecessor. Perhaps what is more certain is the high quality of effects the film is likely to employ. Whether or not you are an admirer of Planet of the Apes (both versions), it is difficult to deny that the apes in these films are fantastically actualised. John Chambers won an honorary Oscar for make-up achievement in Franklin J. Schaffner’s 1968 film. Writing in Sight & Sound in 1968, critic David Wilson credited the make-up department with making the apes “totally persuasive” (vol. 37, p. 156).

Tim Burton’s version employed a considerable amount of effects. Nevertheless, the director relied upon the prowess of Rick Baker to produce the make-up for his simian characters. In his Variety review, Todd McCarthy states: “Rick Baker’s ape makeup creations are wonderfully varied — all manner of simians are present and accounted for – and represent a definite leap beyond what was possible 33 years ago”.

For the 2011 film, Wyatt has engaged the services of WETA Digital to produce his apes. The team responsible for Avatar have used motion capture to generate the apes; the simian make-up and costumes of the predecessors are nowhere to be seen. The concept art for the film looks impressive in the clip below. Planet of the Apes was one of the most enduring science-fiction films of the 1960s. The unnerving depiction of an ape on horseback is just one of the film’s memorable images. The 2001 re-imagining offered a distinctive look, as well as highly realistic make-up. If nothing else, Rise of the Planet of the Apes will offer viewers the same distinguished level of effects we have come to expect from the series. This seems to be the overarching legacy of the science-fiction franchise.