If you’ve made use of the internet in the past week, then you may very well be aware of a recent personnel change-up on the set of the gestating Han Solo spinoff film. Original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller are out, Ron Howard’s in, but as with most showbiz behind-the-scenes drama, the details have been kept under wraps. That is, until The Hollywood Reporter ran an illuminating new item this morning, getting the dish on what really drove the two filmmakers away from this project. The catch-all code word of “creative differences” does not even come close to doing justice to the antipathy between the Lord-Miller brain trust and Lucasfilm.
Today marks the one-year mark until we get the sequel to the 2015 box-office-crusher Jurassic World, and Universal wanted to do something special to commemorate the occasion. Now look down at that glass of water you've got close at hand. Tiny ripples in the center, a distant thunderous thudding in the distance. New information is close at hand.
Boys, girls, people of all ages, the Serkis has come to town! Andy Serkis, that is. The motion-capture professional will take the lead of the neo-Planet of the Apes franchise once more on July 14 for War for the Planet of the Apes, the third chapter in the trilogy. At this point, audiences pretty much know what to expect: the great clash between hostile humanity and peaceable simiankind rages onward and approaches a final reckoning, as the Serkis-played chimp Caesar wrestles with the terrible responsibilities of leadership in wartime. But before audiences can revisit Apeworld for one last battle, 20th Century Fox wants to be sure we all appreciate just how much went into this film.
2015 seems like forever ago — we were all so clean then, so innocent and unaware — but it hasn’t been all that long since Jack Black starred in the big-screen adaptation of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps chapter books. Though the movie itself was pretty middling, Black had gobs of fun as Stine himself, playing the noted kiddie-horror writer as a Vincent Price-esque Gothic weirdo. And it would now seem that Black had a good time with his foray into horror from his comedy home, as some wise casting director has obliged him with a high-profile new gig that should send him deeper into the genre.
Say you’re filmmaker Alex Kurtzman. To the outside observer, it would appear you have it all: a multi-picture deal with Universal to spearhead their Dark Universe initiative, more money than God, probably a bunch of boats, Tom Cruise’s cell phone number. And yet you’re driven mad by the one thing you can’t seem to get, which is the respect of the critics. Like pretty much everything you’ve ever done, the reviews have been downright vitriolic (and to make matters worse, your latest film The Mummy has not been the cash factory Universal was hoping for, now poised to lose the studio a cool $95 million even after a handsome global gross), souring your day even as you fail upwards into the next multi-million-dollar project.
Funny how there aren’t any movies about creepy-looking dolls that stay inanimate. The tradition of killer miniatures is a rich and varied one, stretching from smart-mouthed icon Chucky to Twilight Zone resident Talking Tina to the gang of supremely ticked-off slave toys in Tales From the Hood’s third quarter. The unsettling lifelessness of a doll’s visage has made it a reliable source of horror in the past, and the Conjuring franchise struck its own vein of gold with the homicidal, pigtailed Annabelle. The precocious little psychopath got her own starring vehicle in 2014 with the simply-titled spinoff Annabelle, and now we’re taking a step back in time to witness her dark baptism in blood.
The 2014 film Edge of Tomorrow, known to confused home-video purchasers by the title Live. Die. Repeat., ended its MC Escheresque plot structure with one twist more. Our valiant heroes Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt fought through wave after wave of alien invaders, and though they both lost their lives in the process, they bested the final boss. But as Cruise lay dying, the queen’s blood got on him and ported him back in time yet again, this time somehow to a past where the alien menace has already been beaten back. The weird timeline tampering left some viewers scratching their heads, but that film’s writer Christopher McQuarrie has plans for them.
With so many massive studio tentpoles springing up all over, you’d be forgiven for letting the gestating Jumanji remake slip your mind. The rework of the ’90s kid-friendly fantasy film, playing under the somewhat unwieldy title Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (yeah, tack the tagline right onto the title, why not!) will come to theaters December 20, but prying eyes have already ensnared some key details about the film. There was the whole brouhaha surrounding Karen Gillan’s hilariously impractical jungle outfit and her mealy-mouthed explanation as to why her character had to get all hotted up for a nature expedition, a controversy I have dubbed Midriffgate, and now today brings news of another curious detail of story.
Here’s how thoroughly Batman’s influence has permeated the mainstream: he’s claimed tacit ownership of the very notion of shining a light into the sky. The Bat-Signal, introduced in the comics as Gotham City’s method of summoning the Dark Knight, has been endlessly parodied in the annals of pop-culture — just earlier this month, the poster for Captain Underpants paid homage to the iconic (a word I mean here literally, and not in the ‘a photo of the Kardashians’ sense) design of the skyward spotlight. And all too appropriately, the Bat-Signal will now be used to give one former Batman, the dearly departed Adam West, a proper send-off.
With Spider-Man: Homecoming due July 7 and star Tom Holland teasing the possibility of two more sequels for this latest iteration of the web-head, the franchise’s future has become a topic of interest. And no detail fascinates comic book movie fans quite so much as villainous personnel; Spidey’s many disciples will always be curious to learn which face from the hero’s extensive, colorful rogues gallery will get a big-screen treatment. And while today did not bring confirmation of anything that will happen, it did bring confirmation of one thing that definitely won’t.
Remember Flatliners, Joel Schumacher’s 1990 sci-fi/thriller about a group of medical students trying to cross over into the afterlife? They stop one another’s hearts just long enough to enter the great beyond, and then jolt them back into the land of the living before too long. Perhaps you noticed a fleeting reference to the film in last summer’s Popstar, wherein Bill Hader is relieved to learn that he has not pooped himself after a soft-goth Joanna Newsom artificially halts his heartbeat in a hobby he refers to as ‘flatlining.’ Ready or not, here comes a remake!
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