News Round-up – John Boyega joins Pacific Rim 2, Suicide Squad rated PG-13, new Star Wars image and more

Star Wars has reared its blockbuster head in this week’s movie news round-up, as the new film in the sci-fi franchise moves forward and one of its stars has landed another major cinematic gig. It’s proof that a visit to the galaxy far, far away is the ultimate in career Viagra.

Elsewhere, fans’ hopes for a brutal, violent take on DC’s Suicide Squad will be disappointed by its official rating and Mel Gibson is hoping that a return to one of his biggest successes will help to pick up the pieces of his discredited career.

Here’s your weekly movie news round-up…


From a galaxy far, far away to the Pacific Rim

John Boyega speaks at San Diego Comic-Con in 2015
John Boyega speaks at San Diego Comic-Con in 2015 (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

John Boyega burst on to the acting scene with Attack the Block and then won the hearts of the entire world with his memorable work as one of the new leads in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He has now scored another big role after Legendary Pictures announced that Boyega will play the lead in Pacific Rim 2.

Steven S DeKnight will direct the sequel, having been handpicked by original director Guillermo del Toro. Very little is known about either the film’s plot or Boyega’s role, but it’s a likeable, strong bit of casting that could lead the film to a much healthier financial return than the disappointing $400m worldwide gross which greeted the first movie. Pacific Rim was really under-appreciated on its release, despite Del Toro’s unique vision, but hopefully the sequel will find an audience.


Suicide Squad gets family-friendly rating

Killer Croc and Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad
Killer Croc and Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad

Ever since DC announced Suicide Squad, sections of comic book fandom have been clamouring for the film to receive an R rating, allowing for violence, swearing and all of the other things that helped Deadpool curse its way to almost $800m globally. This week, though, it was announced that the film has been given a PG-13 rating by the MPAA.

This news will anger many fans who believe that Suicide Squad should be a darker, edgier take on the superhero movie. However, the rather flexible environs of that certificate do allow for moral murkiness and plenty of crunching violence. Suicide Squad will not be hurt by a more family-friendly certificate and, without one, it would have been an even bigger risk for DC in their attempts to build a solid movie universe.


Mel Gibson to resurrect career with resurrection

Jim Caviezel in Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ
Jim Caviezel in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ

It’s fair to say that Mel Gibson’s movie career isn’t what it once was. The man who thrilled as an action star in the likes of Mad Max and Lethal Weapon, as well as winning an Oscar for Braveheart, has been disgraced for many years after he outed himself as a ranting racist. He is now looking to make a comeback with a sequel to The Passion of the Christ, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The film would tell the story of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It certainly seems like a no-brainer to make a sequel to the most successful independent movie of all time and this could really help Gibson make his name as a filmmaker all over again.


Cumberbatch will steal Christmas in 2018

Benedict Cumberbatch will voice The Grinch in 2018
Benedict Cumberbatch will voice The Grinch in 2018 (Cumberbatch Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Earlier this year, a new animated take on Dr Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas was announced by Illumination Entertainment – the studio responsible for Despicable Me and spin-off Minions. Benedict Cumberbatch is set to lend his considerable vocal talents to the villainous title character, marking an intriguing start for a project that could be a big festive hit for the fledgling studio.

That film, however, has now been delayed. Entertainment Weekly wrote that the film has been pushed back from November 2017 until November 2018. Illumination will be hoping that the movie can ape the success of Ron Howard’s take on the story, which pulled in more than $300m at the worldwide box office, despite mixed critical reviews.


Warcraft cracks Chinese box office record

Toby Kebbell leads the orc cast in Warcraft
Toby Kebbell leads the orc cast in Warcraft

It’s fair to say that Warcraft, directed by Duncan Jones, has become a bit of a critical whipping boy. It’s a dull, plodding take on an impenetrable video game world and audiences haven’t exactly flocked to American or British cinemas to see it. That’s not the case in China, where the film is breaking box office records at a remarkable rate. Legendary Pictures, which is distributing the movie in China, said that it has become the fastest movie to gross $90m in the country.

With a fair amount of Chinese money in the project, Warcraft has benefited from a very wide release in the country, which is often resistant to foreign movies. It looks as if a solid performance in China could be enough to rescue the film from what initially seemed like almost certain box office failure, much like a solid global take rescued Pacific Rim back in 2013.

For more on Warcraft, check out this week’s rather ranty edition of The Popcorn Muncher Podcast.


Johnson teases Star Wars as filming nears end

Star Wars: Episode VIII is nearing the end of filming
Star Wars: Episode VIII is nearing the end of filming

Filming has almost come to an end on the next installment in the main chronology of the Star Wars franchise. Spin-off Rogue One is about to go back in front of cameras, but Looper director Rian Johnson dropped a new Tumblr photo suggesting that filming on Episode VIII is on “the home stretch”. The image itself is an unremarkable shot of Luke Skywalker’s robe, but it’s certainly enough to whet the appetite of fans.

Elsewhere in the Star Wars universe, John Williams has confirmed in an interview with Variety that he is planning to compose the Episode VIII score. Star Wars always sounds better with Williams at the helm and there’s certainly no substitute for his greatness.


Banks and Kaling to join all-female Ocean’s 11?

Elizabeth Banks at the premiere of What to Expect When You're Expecting in 2012
Elizabeth Banks at the premiere of What to Expect When You’re Expecting in 2012 (Photo: David Shankbone)

Casting news for the all-female take on heist caper Ocean’s 11 is coming thick and fast, with the latest reports suggesting that a raft of A-list talent is set to board the movie, helmed by Hunger Games director Gary Ross. Rumours had already pegged Cate Blanchett for a role alongside Sandra Bullock and it now seems as though Elizabeth Banks and Mindy Kaling will be joining them, with Helena Bonham Carter also in talks, according to ShowBiz 411.

This is certainly a strong cast for a film that could be a really entertaining female-led project. All eyes will almost certainly be on Ghostbusters in the hope that there is audience appetite for remixes of famous movies with the focus shifted towards women.


Will John Boyega add something to Pacific Rim 2? Will Suicide Squad work as a PG-13 film? Are you excited for Star Wars: Episode VIII? Let me know in the comments section and come back next Sunday for another news round-up.

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