Friday, 31 March 2017

New banner for Ghost In The Shell arrives online

Paramount Pictures have just released a new banner for Rupert Sanders' (Snow White And The Huntsman) Ghost In The Shell.





Adapted from Masamune Shirow's original 1989 manga, Ghost In The Shell sees Scarlett Johansson (Lucy) as a special ops cyborg at the head of an elite task force known as Section 9. The team, working for Hanka Robotics, is in charge of stopping dangerous criminals and extremists, and their prime target is Kuze (Michael Pitt), a terrorist dedicated to wiping out all of Hanka's cyber technology.

Johansson's Lucy (2014) co-star Pilou Asbæk is aboard to play Batou, the second best fighter in the section and her trusted lieutenant, with Juliette Binoche (Cosmopolis), 'Beat' Takeshi Kitano (The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi), Michael Pitt (Seven Psychopaths) and Kaori Momoi (Memoirs Of A Geisha) also appearing. The members of Section 9 are played by Chin Han (The Dark knight), Danusia Samal (Tyrant), Lasarus Ratuere (The Mule), Yutaka Izumihara (Unbroken) and Tuwanda Manyimo (The Rover).

With a script by Jonathan Herman (Straight Outta Compton), Ghost In The Shell is out in cinemas now. For more on Ghost In The Shell, check out our Ghost In The Shell crash course guide.

Our CinemaCon Buzzmeter: What's hot and what's not in Las Vegas

The major film studios have gathered in Sin City this week to preview their upcoming films. But are there really any sure bets for multiplexes in 2017/18?




We look at what's hot and what's not with the latest buzz from this years CinemaCon at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.




Blade Runner: 2049

Denis Villeneuve's (Sicario) sequel to the neo-noir classic is reportedly visually stunning, with a few sly nods to Ridley Scott's 1982 original and an impressively creepy Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club). Sign us up. (Sony Pictures and Warner Bros)



Dunkirk

The Christopher Nolan (Interstellar) World War II drama – pictured above – is looking epic in every sense of the word. (Warner Bros)



Aquaman

The superhero film hasn't even shot yet, but that didn't stop Warner Bro and DC Entertainment from showing images of from the film's production design. This dreamy, arresting underwater world looks like it could be a comic book breakthrough. Fingers crossed. (Warner Bros)



Atomic Blonde

Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road) is looking badass as a Cold War spy. A new action hero is born. (Focus Features)



The Beguiled

Dreamy, sultry, and gloriously Southern. This erotic drama certainly looks to weave a spell. (Universal Pictures and Focus Features)



Downsizing

Sure to go down as Alexander Payne's (The Descendants) most bizarre film. Matt Damon (The Martian) and Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids) star as a couple who decide to shrink themselves in order to live the good life. The 10 minutes that screened were by all accounts out there, but hilarious and compelling. (Paramount Pictures)



The House

Will Ferrell (Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy) and Amy Poehler (Inside Out) star in Andrew Jay Cohen's feature debut comedy about parents who turn to crime to pay for their kid's college has the marking of an R-rated summer comedy smash. (Warner Bros)



The Mummy

Breathing new life into their classic creature features, Universal Pictures latest reboot looks scary, sexy and cool. While Tom Cruise (Edge Of Tomorrow) arguably looks a tad too adrenalized, this remake won't be skimping on the jump scares. (Universal Pictures)



Baywatch

A gag where Zac Efron's (That Awkward Moment) dim bulb life guard examines a dead man's genitals is apparently worth the price of admission alone. (Paramount Pictures)



Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle

The filmmakers would have us believe that Jumanji is a beloved property. That may or may not be the case, but the combination of Dwayne Johnson (San Andreas), Kevin Hart (Ride Along), Jack Black (School Of Rock) and Karen Gillan (Guardians Of The Galaxy) in skimpy shorts should certainly translate into a big global hit. (Sony Pictures)




Wonder Woman

Potentially another lacklustre entry in the DC Expanded Universe, but Gal Gadot (Fast & Furious 6) has star power to spare. (Warner Bros)



Annihilation

Hard to know what exactly is going on in this Natalie Portman (Black Swan) thriller, but reports suggest it looked pretty scary. (Paramount Pictures)



Spider-Man: Homecoming

A lot more coverage of Michael Keaton (Birdman) as the villainous, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) hating Vulture. Tom Holland (The Impossible) has a wide eyed appeal that could offer a fresh take on a familiar hero, but after five different Spider-Man movies, there is arguably a risk of fatigue. (Sony Pictures)




Despicable Me 3

By the numbers preview for the animated sequel. Regardless, this sequel will almost certainly make a ridiculous amount of money. (Universal Pictures)



Suburbicon

George Clooney (The Monuments Men) takes a cudgel to Eisenhower era conformity. It looks offbeat, well shot, and very, very bloody. (Paramount Pictures)



Valerian

French director Luc Besson's (Léon: The Professional) passion project is looking a lot The Fifth Element (1997). There are outrageous aliens, a French director colour palate, and Rihanna (Battleship) in a nurse's costume. Looks dangerously out there. (STX Entertainment)



The Dark Tower

Some seemingly cool standoffs between Idris Elba (Prometheus) as a heroic gunslinger and Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club) as the villainous Man in Black. But the plot is reportedly convoluted and is set to open in a crowded summer season. This may just be for die hard fans of Stephen King. (Sony Pictures)



Justice League

Zack Snyder obviously got the memo that Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice (2016) needed a humor injection, but the quip happy trailer still seemed like a pretty joyless affair. (Warner Bros)




Molly's Game

Aaron Sorkin (Steve Jobs) makes his directorial debut in this thriller about a corner cutting entrepreneur (Jessica Chastain) who dreams up a high stakes poker game. Tough to see how this one breaks out barring awards buzz. (STX Entertainment)



The Book Of Henry

Is it a film about a boy genius? Is it a mystery? Or is it an awards bait drama? Who knows. What it looks like though is a mess. (Focus Features)



Geostorm

Woeful digital effects and an utterly derivative plot, this Gerard Butler (Olympus Has Fallen) starring disaster movie looks like Sharknado (2013) on a slightly bigger budget. (Warner Bros)



The Emoji Movie

Why? Just why? (Sony Pictures)

Sizzling hot

Ice cold

Thursday, 30 March 2017

10 times movies recreated moments from history

With a growing number of biopics making there way to multiplexes, many of us may not realise that we are often watching exhaustively recreated historical footage. Maybe you saw Natalie Portman giving a tour of the White House in Jackie (2016) without realising that it cane from an actual CBS and NBC broadcast of Jackie Kennedy on Valentine's Day in 1962. Or perhaps you saw Catch Me If You Can (2002) and thought the game show scene was just a neat storytelling trick from Steven Spielberg rather than recreated footage from the To Tell The Truth game show in 1977.




But, in most cases, these moments of filmed history are so important, and so well known, they can be very difficult to recreate. Ultimately they need to be believable. And when scenes like the march from Selma to Montgomery and the assassination of Lee Harvey Oswald are so ingrained in history, filmmakers must go through incredible lengths to do them right. Notice how in Selma, each marcher's posture and speed and demeanour matches the actual footage, and how Portman's Jackie Kennedy stiffly backs – hands folded – into frame in the White House.

Created by UK based photographer and director Vugar Efendi, this video demonstrates the impressive attention to detail required in recreating history.



Monday, 27 March 2017

New one sheet for Fate Of The Furious arrives online

Universal Pictures have just released their latest one sheet for F. Gary Gray's (Straight Outta Compton) The Fate Of The Furious.





Going by the much less unusual title Fast & Furious 8 here in the UK, the eighth movie finds the crew seemingly in a relaxed place. Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are on their honeymoon, and the rest of the crew are enjoying a chaos free existence. But that is before a mysterious woman known as Cipher (Charlize Theron) somehow entices Dom back into a world of crime – and has him shockingly betray the others. And there are also struggles ahead for Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), who finds himself behind bars with Jason Statham's Deckard Shaw...

Soon, the team is splintering and facing trials that will test them like never before. And these are people who have driven cars out of planes and between skyscrapers...

Hopping between Cuba, New York and the icy plains near the arctic Barents Sea, the race is on to stop an anarchist and somehow bring home the man who made them into an unlikely family.

F. Gary Gray is in the director's chair with Chris Morgan (Fast & Furious 6) once again on script duties as the stunt team do ever madder things with assorted vehicles.

With franchise regulars Ludacris, Tyrese Gibson, Nathalie Emmanuel and Kurt Russell all returning, alongside new recruits Scott Eastwood (Fury), Kristofer Hivju (Game Of Thrones) and Helen Mirren (The Queen), Fate Of The Furious will be out on 14 April.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Colin Farrell set for Inner City

Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler) already has Denzel Washington (The Equalizer) aboard his next gritty thriller, Inner City. Now news arrives via The Hollywood Reporter that he is aiming to add Colin Farrell (Total Recall) to the cast.





With news of Farrell entering talks comes some more details on the story for this one. Washington will play a reclusive lawyer who has worked for decades as a legal researcher for his beloved mentor. But when the older man passes away, he is snapped up by a well known, but far more cutthroat firm where he discovers a case that changes his life... And could potentially threaten it.

As for Farrell, he is circling playing the slick, wealthy legal eagle who initially recruits Washington to his new job. If he makes a deal, he will be working on the film starting later this month in Los Angeles. Farrell most recently worked on Sofia Coppola's (Somewhere) latest, The Beguiled and reunited with his Lobster (2015) director Yorgos Lanthimos for The Killing Of A Sacred Deer.

Nicole Kidman in talks for Aquaman

Currently swimming towards an April shoot date, director James Wan (The Conjuring) and the Aquaman team are starting to lock down more cast. News arrives via The Hollywood Reporter that Nicole Kidman (Stoker) and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (The Get Down) are in talks for roles.





Kidman, assuming she signs, is looking to play Aquaman's mother, Atlanna. A member of the royal family in Atlantis, she escaped her kingdom for an adventure on the surface, and ended up falling for a lighthouse keeper and giving birth to Jason Momoa's (Conan The Barbarian) hero.

As for Abdul-Mateen, the man who plays Cadillac on the Netflix series is in line to be Black Manta, a scheming villain and one of Aquaman's main foes who was first introduced in 1967. It is the latest big film role for the actor, who narrowly missed out on the role of Lando Calrissian in the Han Solo Star Wars spin-off but will be seen in Baywatch and The Greatest Showman.

The pair will join a cast that already boasts Amber Heard (The Danish Girl) as Mera, Willem Dafoe (The Grand Budapest Hotel) as scientist and adviser Vulko and Patrick Wilson (The Conjuring) as Orm, Aquaman's half-brother and another threat.

Wan is aiming for a 5 October release date next year. Momoa, Heard and Dafoe will all pop up in Justice League, due out on 17 November.

Diego Luna circling Scarface remake

In what appears to be one step forward, one step back in world of filmmaking, Variety brings word that while director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) has left the latest version of Scarface, Diego Luna (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) is currently in the frame to take the lead.





Fuqua had been seriously considering the job since last August, and the director was enthusiastic about the chance to make it. But a sticking point arose when Sony Pictures needed him to stay on to develop the Equalizer sequel, into which he has poured even more time and effort... Despite attempts to figure out the schedule – Universal Pictures are also looking to have Scarface shooting this spring – a new director will be needed.

As for Luna, Variety's sources say he is attached to star, but there has been no official announcement about that yet. The new version of Scarface, like the 1932 take and more famous 1983 movie will once again explore an immigrant chasing the American dream via any method necessary – up to, and including violent crime. In this latest variation, which has Terence Winter (The Wolf Of Wall Street) writing the most recent script draft, the newcomer is Mexican. After going through a couple of potential directors, Universal Pictures are meeting others, intending to keep the movie on track to shoot this year.

New one sheet for Alien: Covenant arrives online

20th Century Fox have just released their latest one sheet for Ridley Scott's Prometheus (2012) follow-up Alien: Covenant.





Alien: Covenant finds director Ridley Scott heading back to the Alien universe after Prometheus, and following a colony ship called the Covenant headed for a remote planet, a place that the crew initially thinks is an uncharted paradise but turns out to be dark and full of terrors. And the only inhabitant is synthetic life form David (Michael Fassbender), who claims to be the lone survivor of the Prometheus mission.

Katherine Waterston (Inherent Vice), Demián Bichir (The Hateful Eight), Amy Seimetz (You're Next), Carmen Ejogo (Selma), Callie Hernandez (Machete Kills), Billy Crudup (Watchmen) and Danny McBride (Eastbound & Down) make up the ship's crew, and it appears we will catch up with Noomi Rapace's Dr. Elizabeth Shaw. Plus we will be getting a double dose of Fassbender, as he is also playing another synthetic, this one named Walter.

Alien: Covenant, which was originally scheduled for 4 August, now seems scheduled for 19 May, which should be day and date both here and in the US.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Liam Neeson set for revenge thriller Hard Powder

Just when you thought Liam Neeson (Taken) might be hanging up his particular set of skills and getting out of the wronged citizen business, along comes another action thriller. News arrives via Variety that he is set to join Hans Peter Moland's (In Order Of Disappearance) Hard Powder.





Based on Norwegian original In Order Of Disappearance (2014), the film finds Neeson as Nels, an upstanding snowplow driver and recipient of Citizen Of The Year prize from his swanky Colorado ski town. But when his son is murdered by a local drug kingpin, a switch flips inside our hero and he goes on a rampage. "Fuelled by an unwavering drive for vengeance and armed with heavy machinery, this unlikely hero sets out to dismantle the cartel with extreme prejudice, and he's not stopping until he gets to the top of the food chain," says the synopsis, and he will be up against a well dressed, vegan Native American mafia boss who drives a Tesla but is only too happy murdering people.

Hans Peter Moland is back for this one, which has a script from Frank Baldwin (The Run), and cameras are set to roll this month in Canada.

Neeson was most recently seen in Martin Scorsese's Silence (2016) and will crop up next in regular collaborator Jaume Collet-Serra's (Unkonwn) latest thriller The Commuter and Watergate drama Felt.

Saoirse Ronan set to star in refugee drama Sweetness In The Belly

As refugees and immigration continue to be a flashpoint topic, a new drama will look at the subject from a personal angle. News arrives via Deadline that Saoirse Ronan (Atonement) is attached to star in Sweetness In The Belly.





Ethiopian director Zeresenay Berhane Mehari (Difret) will oversee the film, which has Laura Phillips (Nancy Drew) adapting Camilla Gibbs' bestseller. Ronan is on board to star as Lilly Abdal, a young woman whose life straddles two very different worlds. Orphaned in Africa as a child born to English parents, she returns to their homeland as a refugee, fleeing a violent civil war. Trying to find herself in a cold new home, Lily becomes the heart of a disenfranchised community and works to reunite people with their scattered families. But she is also dealing with a lost love affair with idealistic doctor Aziz.

"When we were developing the script Saoirse was our dream first choice for Lilly," producers Jennifer Kawaja and Julia Sereny (New Waterford Girl) tell Deadline. "It's so wonderful to have her on board. We are thrilled to begin to realise the project, especially as the film is even more relevant now then it was when we started this journey."

The cameras will be rolling this September. Ronan, meanwhile, has several films awaiting release, including The Seagull, On Chesil Beach and Greta Gerwig's (Nights And Weekends) Lady Bird.

Ben Affleck won't direct The Batman



It was an open secret for months, but a solo outing for Ben Affleck's Batman was officially announced by studio Warner Bros last April, as Zack Snyder's Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice (2016) arrived on screens. Since then we have learned that the current working title is The Batman, that Affleck is himself at work on the script with DC boss Geoff Johns, and that Joe Manganiello has been cast as the villainous Deathstroke. It all seemed to be moving forward efficiently, but now news arrives via Variety that, while he is staying to play Bruce Wayne/Batman and produce The Batman, Ben Affleck has officially decided to step away from the director's chair.





There had been signs of issues with the film in recent months, with no clear answer as to when the script would be finished and no solid word on a production start date. And now the actor has announced that he is going to stick to playing the hero, producing the movie and co-writing the screenplay with Geoff Johns. "There are certain characters who hold a special place in the hearts of millions," Affleck says. "Performing this role demands focus, passion and the very best performance I can give. It has become clear that I cannot do both jobs to the level they require. Together with the studio, I have decided to find a partner in a director who will collaborate with me on this massive film. I am still in this, and we are making it, but we are currently looking for a director. I remain extremely committed to this project, and look forward to bringing this to life for fans around the world."

As for Warner Bros, the studio were quick to issue a statement backing the choice. "Warner Bros fully supports Ben Affleck's decision and remains committed to working with him to bring a standalone Batman picture to life."

It may not stymie the rumours of creative confusion in the Warners Bros and DC Entertainment camp, but at least it has happened now and not as the movie is starting to shoot. But the question now becomes who can take over the job. According to Variety's sources, the shortlist of potential candidates includes Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (2014) veteran Matt Reeves.

As for Affleck's Batman, he will be back on screens in Justice League out this November.

Viola Davis and Julia Roberts set to star in Small Great Things

Finally garnering an Oscar win after two previous nominations, Viola Davis (Fences) is heading for a new project that should see her co-starring with fellow Academy Award® winner Julia Roberts (Secret In Their Eyes). News arrives via Deadline that she is attached to the adaptation of Jodi Picoult's Small Great Things.





The movie is still at an embryonic stage, with no writer or director attached as yet, though La La Land (2016) producer Marc Platt will develop the film for his company and Amblin Partners.

Small Great Things tackles the sensitive subject of race relations as it follows Ruth, a delivery nurse who is a 20-year veteran in taking care of newborns at a Connecticut hospital. But she is told not to touch the baby of a couple who are white supremacists. When the couple's baby dies and Ruth is the only one present, the couple takes her to court.

You can see Davis' award winning performance in Fences in cinemas now, while Roberts will next be seen in Wonder and heard in Smurfs: The Lost Village.

Max Minghella set to direct Teen Spirit

After helping to get one of his late father's projects made by writing and producing The 9th Life Of Louis Drax (2016), news arrives via Variety that Max Minghella is stepping up to direct one of his own scripts. And he has one of La La Land's producers aiding him with Teen Spirit.





Minghella developed the script with Jamie Bell (who has an executive producer credit) and is gearing up to make the movie, described as "an emotional underdog story set in the world of pop-music, about growing up, dreaming big, and finding your voice." It will focus on shy teen Violet, who survives small town life in Eastern Europe with her dysfunctional family by channeling dreams of pop stardom. She enters an international singing competition, and discovers there is more to the world than just having a healthy set of pipes.

It will be filled with contemporary music, and La La Land producer Fred Berger is bringing some of the musical's tune team to this one, including music producer Marius DeVries and music supervisor Steven Gizicki, while Interscope Records will handle the soundtrack.

In front of the camera, Minghella will be back on screens via the new TV adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale.

Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway join Steven Knight's Serenity

News arrives via Deadline that Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway are currently closing deals for Steven Knight's (Locke) latest noir Serenity.





Knight has once again written and will direct the film, and Deadline has sniffed out details about the plot, which reportedly finds a fishing boat captain in the Caribbean whose past life is about to crash into his present and change all that he knows. Given that it is set to see McConaughey and Hathaway sharing the screen again for the first time since Interstellar (2014), we can only wonder whether Matt Damon is lurking on an island somewhere...

Assuming it all comes together, Knight will be kicking off the shoot this summer.

McConaughey can currently be seen in Gold and has The Dark Tower arriving in cinemas on 28 July. Hathaway, meanwhile, has Ocean's Eight out next year and offbeat monster movie Colossal still seeking a UK release.

Millie Bobby Brown set for Godzilla: King Of The Monsters

She has already made a name for herself going up against a weird creature in last year's hit Netflix series Stranger Things. For her first movie role, Millie Bobby Brown is graduating to a monster of a whole new scale, with Legendary Pictures announcing that she is set to star in Godzilla: King Of The Monsters.





Michael Dougherty (Krampus), who had been at work on the script with co-writer Zach Shields, was confirmed recently as the director of the sequel to Godzilla (2014). We don't yet know what will happen in the new movie, but given the creature's warmer reception after fighting off mutant beasties in the previous outing, we would imagine Godzilla will be back to battle some more humungous competition. As for Brown? Details on her character have yet to be released.

The new film is part of Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros' planned giant monster movies, which includes Kong: Skull Island, out in cinemas now. King Of Monsters has been scheduled for 22 March 2019, while Godzilla Vs. Kong stomps in on 22c May 2020. We can only imagine that the clash between the pair comes when Kong arrives to inform Godzilla that there can be only one king of the monsters, and since he traditionally has it as part of his name, it is him.

Brown, meanwhile, will be back on screens as Stranger Things' Eleven later this year.

New one sheet for Unlocked arrives online

Lionsgate and Bloom have just released their latest one sheet for veteran British director Michael Apted's (Chasing Mavericks) Unlocked.





Unlocked stars Noomi Rapace (Prometheus) as a CIA operative who, having found her mission mission compromised, is forced to team up with Orlando Bloom's (The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug) MI5 agent in order to track down a terrorist group threatening a biological attack on London. Along the way, she is ably assisted – or possibly hindered – by the likes of Michael Douglas (Haywire), Toni Collette (Little Miss Sunshine) and John Malkovich (Burn After Reading). Quite a cast.

Unlocked arrives in cinemas on 5 May.

Ethan Hawke and Noomi Rapace set to star in heist thriller Stockholm

You may have heard of the psychological phenomenon known as Stockholm Syndrome but do you know the event that gave it that name? It is a story set to be explored in new heist thriller Stockholm, starring Ethan Hawke (Boyhood) and Noomi Rapace (Prometheus).





Robert Budreau (Born To Be Blue) is set to write write and direct the film, taking his inspiration from Daniel Lang's 1974 New Yorker article The Bank Drama. It chronicled how, in 1973, a group of robbers took hostages in a Stockholm bank, only for those under threat to bond with their captors and turn against the authorities

"Stockholm will offer moviegoers a raw glimpse into intense events that transpired over four decades ago coining a psychological condition that still intrigues the world today," says Sierra/Affinity's Jonathan Kier. "With Robert's creative direction coupled with Ethan and Noomi's tremendous talents, we are certain audiences around the globe will be captivated by this thrilling true story."

Budreau should have cameras rolling in April.

"It's time to show Kong that man is king!"

When it comes to movie monsters, there is no denying that Kong is king. But in Kong: Skull Island, the Eighth Wonder of the World has competition from a tropical paradise full of mythical man eaters. Not just the latest Kong re-imagining, Skull Island is also the second instalment in Legendary's new MonsterVerse, which will see Merian C. Cooper's giant simian anti-hero throw down with Godzilla in 2020. In other words, there is a lot riding on the mighty monkey's shoulders.





Following a brief prologue, the action jumps forward to 1974, where government officials Bill Randa (John Goodman) and Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins) assemble a ragtag renegade crew to survey the uncharted Skull Island.

Among the recruits are a former SAS tracker (Tom Hiddleston), a photojournalist (Brie Larson) and a helicopter squadron led by the crazed Colonel Packard (Samuel L. Jackson). The intrusion doesn't go down well with the island's protector – 100ft ape King Kong. But with something even deadlier stirring in the earth, Kong soon becomes the least of their concerns.

This isn't the film you think it is. In stark contrast to somewhat serious first trailer, Kong: Skull Island is fun – pure matinee pulp masquerading as a modern blockbuster. At a time when producers have more franchise clout than ever, Kong is a rare director driven effects movie.

Jordan Vogt-Roberts (Kings Of Summer) keeps proceedings energetic and fantastically absurd – the first time the island is glimpsed, it explodes on screen, obscured behind a Richard Nixon bobblehead. The action is slickly staged and thrillingly kinetic, with a pleasing tactility to the effects work, while the exotic location shoot pays dividends.

It is a satisfying repositioning of Kong as monstrous lonely god. The first time we see him he is framed to fright. But he is also a sympathetic beast, Terry Notary's performance capture and Industrial Light & Magic's artistry working effectively in unison. Fur and sinew moving naturally, Kong feels tangible. Besides, there are also giant water buffalo, serene log creatures and Skull Crawlers – giant, bipedal lizards who killed Kong's family and, given the chance, would wipe out all human life on the island. If anything, more indigenous island life would have been welcome.

Likely there wasn't time, given the enormous ensemble cast. Practically everyone gets solid screen time, even if it is never enough to care when they die. Jackson is suitably intense as the Ahab-like military man, but it is John C. Reilly's (Carnage) marooned World War II pilot who gets the most compelling arc, a heartfelt story underpinning his insanity.

Toby Kebbell (War Horse) draws the short straw as the clichéd Private, while Hiddleston and Larson are curiously underserved by straight laced dialogue and a noticeable absence from the action. The film also takes a few too many cues from Peter Jackson's King Kong (2005).

Kudos, however, to a franchise film that doesn't go to agonising lengths to set up its sequel, outside of a crossover teasing post-credits scene. Though with Kong and Godzilla existing on opposite ends of the tonal and aesthetic spectrum, reconciling the two will first require a battle of the behemoths behind the scenes.

It may be derivative and a little dumb, but there is plenty of personality and panache to spare in this monster blockbuster. With a few reservations, Kong: Skull Island is a swinging success.





New character one sheets for Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 arrive online

Marvel Studios have just released a batch of character one sheets for James Gunn's Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2.






























Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 finds the Guardians gelling a little more as a unit after their rough early days, but still more ramshackle than, say, the Avengers. They are also not exactly top notch when it comes to helping others, and an early screw up means they face the wrath of Elizabeth Debicki's (The Man From U.N.C.L.E) alien Ayesha. Plus they have to somehow team up with Michael Rooker's Yondu after his Ravagers betray him.

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 will see the return of Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper and Karen Gillan, alongside new faces Kurt Russell (Death Proof), Nathan Fillion (Slither) and Sylvester Stallone (The Expendables).

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 arrives in the UK on 28 April, before heading to the US on 5 May.